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Circle of Deceit

Studio: Hustler Video » Review by Disco Dirge » Review Date: 5/13/04

XCritic's Advice: Recommended

Genre: Straight Feature, Foreign
Cast: Daniella, Lucy Love, Bob Terminator, Vanessa, Yacousa, Lauro Giotto, Richardo Bell, Esmeralda, JPX, Jennifer Dark, Angelica, James Brossman, Sabrina, Maria, Thomas Stone
Director: Patrick Handsome
Length: 120 mins

What is it about porn from other countries that renders the ribaldry that much more exotic? Is it the distinctly different DNA, the genuine gene pool that provides the ethnic elegance of males and females (or any combination of both) from faraway lands? Is it the interpersonal aspects, libidos tuned by far more sensual and serious social attitudes than our own Puritanical problems? Do we sense the semblance of a Slavic accent and feel our huckleberries bunching with lust? Do fashion faux paxs and hygienic dynamics make us think of newfound fetish fodder, or are we equally repulsed/attracted to that which we would never dare wear or stink of? Female armpit hair, harsh male five o'clock shadow, gaudy palaces and fertile farmlands provide the formula for so much foreign porn that when something comes along and tries to combine Eastern bloc traditions with Western world wantonness, the potential is there for something special. Circle of Deceit, made by famed French director Patrick Handsome is an example of such a surreal experience in expensive looking Continental carnality. This newcomer's philosophy to emphasize style and beauty over wet dripping drilling makes his adult movies more like a tasteful trip into the backrooms and bordellos of striking European capitals. But just because the film looks like an overly ornate version of those Spanish telenovelas doesn't mean the sex is simulated or softcore. Indeed, behind its Vogue photo shoot style is some of the rawest, raunchiest fucking ever to be festooned with subtitles.

The DVD:
Taken from the write up on the back of the DVD case, Circle of Deceit is described in the following, rather hyperbolized fashion: "Sex and money have the power to drive normal people to do crazy things. (This movie) exposes how far some fuckers will go. It all begins with an innocent ring a tiny part of an inheritance. Then everything snowballs into an orgy of backstabbing, lying, cheating and stealing".

OK so apparently the disc old Dirge got as part of his review screeners contained something a little more sedate than the crime time thriller described above. Apparently, instead of the cutthroat cabal of love and deception, he got a rather lame story about a piece of jewelry that gets passed around as an excuse for sex scenes. As a matter of fact, to see just what a collapsible clothesline of a plot this really is, lets see how the schtupping fits into the narrative. Esmerelda inherits a ring from her grandmother. She stops by the lawyer's office to pick it up. She leaves (Scene 1) and heads home. In bed, later that evening, she reads the letter Grandma left her that accompanied the ring (Scene 2). After reading the letter, she retires for the night with her husband (Scene 3). The next day, her husband goes to a local "underworld" figure to find out the value of the bauble. The boss entertains the guest with a couple of willing wenches (Scene 4). Having left the ring behind, the gangster talks to a local pimp about its value. The white slaver is unsure and will have to check it out. Thankfully, he brought along a couple of working gals to help them both pass the time (Scene 5). The End.

Trust the Dirge when he says that the following description is far more flamboyant and felonious than the way it actually plays on the screen. A good example of why this is, would be the final conversation between the pimp and the hood. It lasts about 15.345 seconds ("How much you think it's worth?" "Don't know." "Check it out for me." "OK") and then it's on to the hardcore horsing around. So basically, the story is bunk. This is no thriller. It's about as suspenseful as a hearing test and as devious as a newborn kitten. So all that's really left is the sex, and thankfully, Circle of Deceit delivers with a couple of very erotic scenes. If you can get through the mere minutes of story here, you will be rewarded with lots of wham bam and even a little "thank you Ma'am". The individual episodes (all named for the ladies who perform in them) are as follows:

Scene 1: Daniella, Lucy Love, Bob Terminator
Our heroine, Esmerelda, walks into Bob Terminator's office (he is a rather unusual looking legal eagle here) and learns she is the beneficiary of an inheritance. In an American porno, this would be a surefire kick-off for a round of anal cowgirl. But instead, while business is being transacted, Bob's paralegals (making full use of the para prefix) whisper and giggle behind her back. Are they plotting a lesbian lien on her recently received post-mortem property? Nope, they just wanna fuck their boss. So when Esme leaves, the ladies leap on his lawyerly lap and demand a three-way. Bob negotiates a proper settlement of the sexual situation and the assistants begin their own bare "bar" exam. The ladies take turns lunching on Mr. T's titanic log and the Aryan advocate loves every minute of it. When the oral has reached its statute of limitation, it's time for Lucy to take some straight sex. Bob pounds the poor lass while Daniella looks on, doing a Divinyls on herself. The couple copulating switches to an anal parameter and thus continues the cock knocking. As a final bonus, Bob gives both his Gal Fridays nice facials, gobs of goo justifying their hiring. Aside from the subtitles (which make for a very odd initial foray into this adult flick) Bob's Hitler youth leanings are the only thing differentiating this scene from Western smut. The action is hard and heavy and the directing keeps us up close, but not in an overly extreme manner. Our ladies, however, need a lesson in love sounds. They repeat the same boring bleat over and over. Score: 7/10

Scene 2: Vanessa, Yacousa, Lauro Giotto, Richardo Bell

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While in bed with her rather distant companion, Esmerelda reads a letter from her grandmother about how she got the ring. WOOZERS! Apparently, Granny was in a bunker somewhere during WWII with three beefy Bavarians and she spent her hiding place days fucking the fascism out of her captors. So while her countrymen were dying to keep the world free, this ribald relative (in the frisky persona of the dark haired Vanessa) was keeping her mouth full of cock and her ass full of dick. During the orgiastic arrangements between the foursome, the following porn permutations occur. Vanessa blows all three guys. She blows two guys while she rides another reverse cowgirl style (or as they called it in the old country backwards lederhosen posin'). She takes it schnauzer style while, yep, blowing two guys. She blows two guys and gets fingered. She has her own salad tossed as two guys receive a blowjob. She still blows two guys as another pile drives her asshole until he fills her with creamy goodness (that's right, he blows his load right in her dumper). Finally all the blowing pays off as the remaining men lose their baby makers, unleashing their victory vim all over Vanessa's waiting face. So sizzling you could fry bacon on the big screen, this four-way fellatio and fucking festival highlights everything director Handsome gets right in his films. The girl is good looking. The guys are built and bringing their A game. And there is an atmosphere of sophistication to go along with the sleaze. The best scene in the film. Score: 9/10

Scene 3: Esmeralda, JPX
Apparently sensing an opportunity to strike snatch, Esme's errant manfriend flirts and flits with his little lady until she puts down the ring and picks up his prick. But first, JPX must service his woman, and he does so with a tongue-bathing bout of oral (with optional finger fooling included). Esme responds well to this mouth on mons attention, but J's just jonesing to bring on the fuck. He takes her from behind, scissors style, and begins what has to be the fastest thrusting ever recording in modern pornography. JPX jacks his dick into Esmerelda so quickly that you're afraid he'll start a fire in her cunt. In the remaining positions, from cowgirl to anal clowning around (in both the doggie and the prairie pushing facets) JPX is running a randy race that no one asked him to participate in. So red faced you half expect his eyeballs to explode and working his wiener like a pry bar at the scene of an accident, he corrupts and contaminates this sex scene with his undo physical stressing. And after all that frantic friction, his money shot (in Ms. E's mouth after a pedestrian BJ) is mediocre at best. JPX is indeed a jinx for the rest of Circle of Deceit. Whenever he is on camera, there is certain to be more rapid ramrodding than audience members require or enjoy. Score: 4.5/10

Scene 4: Jennifer Dark, Angelica, JPX, James Brossman
The freakishly fast fucker J goes over to visit his friend James to get his opinion on the ring's gigolo value. But instead of an appraisal, a couples configuration is called with JPX taking on Jennifer Dark while James plies his peter on Angelica. Both couples begin with oral. Then each man munches on their individual lady's love canals. JPX is the first to break the mood when he revs up his chaotic cock combustion engine and starts speed screwing the scruples out of Jennifer in a standing scissors approach. James and Angelica prefer a more sedate session of doggie spooning. Master X responds with a jackhammer reverse cowgirl. James sees that range roving and ups the ante with anal spooning. Not to be outdone, J heads for the booty and boffs Jenny's stinky pink, stopping on occasion to expose her gaping asshole to the world. The Brossman decides to do the dirty deed in the bow-wow butt position. The quickest cocksman in a former Soviet territory gets into the anal spoon disposition. James teaches his tart the ways of the west by forcing her to experience a long ride in the saddle from the anus angle. When he grows weary of his wench, James wanders to where JPX is doing double time duty and adds his tool to the binary penetration of Jennifer. After the bout of butt and bush sex, each lady licks their men's members. Jizzum fills each mouth. The End. This is a very, very hot scene except for JPX's extreme antics. This guy's got only one mode racecar driver. If he slowed it down, the passion would prevail over the hyper-mechanical pile driving. And these ladies also only offer one-note pronunciations of how much they are enjoying themselves. Variety is the spice of life, girls. Try it sometimes when it comes to erotic vocalizing. Score: 6/10

Scene 5: Sabrina, Maria, James Brossman, Thomas Stone
It's the next day and a pimp associate of James has come for a visit. He has brought along a couple of slutty skanks to liven up the sale price sitdown. After a momentary discussion about jewelry value, the frisky festivities begin. The lewd ladies start out by stripping and dancing in as provocative a fashion as they can. This leads to some lesbianism; mostly just kissing and fondling. When they can't take it anymore, the gals glom onto the guys and thus the exchange of bodily fluids begins. Both men manhandle and maw the tits of the talent. Then both are the beneficiaries of blowjobs. Thomas goes for some straight sex with Sabrina while James gets his dog hog on. Growing tired of the twat, Jimmy jams his jock into Maria's bunghole, puppy-like. Thomas takes it to the rectal receptacle straight up. James makes his ass antics take a wild, wild western turn, while Stoner succeeds in regular cowgirl colon blowing. Bross bakes the butt in a scissors dynamic while Tommy takes his gal to the saloon for a reverse sequence of in-the-saddle sarsaparilla. When all the anus antics are done, the peters plunge right into open mouths, completing the A to M magic. When the pole polishing is over, it's a facial for each femme fatale. Since JPX is nowhere to be found and the scene is made up of mostly anal, this is an intense, but passionate porno play. All the hardcore is handled in a heated, yet unhurried fashion and the girls are really game for the group gunning. A nice way to finish the film. Score: 8/10

In an interview included as part of the bonuses, Patrick Handsome discusses why he can get so many model types (at least, by Iron Curtain standards) to take it up the ass on camera. His response is rather interesting. "They don't believe porn will hurt their career" he says. Obviously what he is referring to is the lack of cross-cultural impact (and massive techn0logical advances) that makes Western porn stars into product with penetratable pussy. Let's face it; Miss Jenna J. trades on her notoriety. If it faded away, so would most of her youth demographic appeal. But over in the rest of the world, adult entertainment is just that; items of enjoyment for consenting, mature people. It's not fodder for music videos. It's not the subject of a line of toys. It's a marital aide, a romance enhancer and a strangely egotistical chance to compare and contrast. So the frank and fierce nature of the hardcore action here is a direct result of such a carefree attitude. Sure, the ladies here could learn a thing or two from their American counterparts about playing up the passion (one single sound repeated over and over again with the same tone and timber is not sensual, but a violation of the Geneva Convention). And someone definitely needs to swipe JPX's espressos before his pre-scene binge drinking. This dude's hyperactive jackrabbit on mescaline style is enough to give triathletes a heart attack. Yet Handsome holds this all together in a very corporeal and dependable manner. It's his stylistic sense, in combination with the copulation onscreen that makes Circle of Deceit satisfying.

The Video:
As a director with a definitive technique, Handsome renders the visual feel of Circle of Deceit artful and aesthetically pleasing. The transfer here is crisp and sharp, producing a very detailed and distinct 1.33:1 full screen image. All the action close-ups are focused and the interpersonal dynamic between the actors is always framed nicely. Overall, the video is picture perfect.

The Audio:
For those who've wondered what Prince has been up to these last few years, the answer is obvious from the soundtrack to this DVD. The Purple one has apparently been teaching the Teutonic wannabes worldwide about how to flow with the funk as the faux R&B soundtrack that bubbles over the menu screens would indicate. This "Kiss" meets Krautrock mentality pervades the music of this title, creating a kind of an electric cock and cunt Kraftwerk ambiance to the project. As for the performer's voices, the women are far too loud when "reacting" to the action. They seem to have been recorded at maximum volume to accentuate their miserable moaning. And as for the Slavic speak going on in the film, it is so low in the mix you can barely tell what is being said. Still, all drowned dialect dialogue aside, the Dolby Digital Stereo sounds good and showcases the mock Minnesota man's Dirty Mind outtakes well.

The Extras:
Hustler really steps up the added value aspect of porn DVDs with the wealth of interesting extras incorporated into this package. Along with the standard onset snapshot gallery (looking more like layout ideas for Flynt's periodicals than anything else) and some intriguing trailers for other Handsome/Hustler titles, there is a cast list (just names on a screen) and some nice ads for phone sex and Hustler's Hollywood store. But the best material is saved for the Behind the Scenes section and the Director's Profile. In the featurette, we get a glimpse of the setups for the sex scenes in the film. We get an idea of the size of the crew, the length of time between shots and the difficulty in capturing the right angles to accentuate the hardcore. Like the feature itself, we have foreign nationals speaking in their native tongue, so we sometimes miss potentially interesting information. And as stated before, director Handsome comes off as jovial and genuine in his profile, which is really just a six-minute Q&A with a Hustler intern. He is frank about why many members of his cast take on hardcore porn (answer: $$$) and dismisses any adverse reactions to his or anyone else's reputation as a result of what industry they participate in. He tells a humorous anecdote about how Eastern European men act like dick divas while filming, thinking that they, and not the ladies, should be the ones consistently serviced. But Handsome always reminds them that in the world of straight hardcore, it's the ladies that are the most important mass marketing factor.

Final Thoughts:
It's interesting that when Hustler decided to get into the home theater porn game, they approached European producers for their primary product. Certainly, the wealth of fetish specific titles (like the ultra-popular Barely Legal movies) allow for a greater selection, but the foreign tinge also gives business baron Larry Flynt a uniqueness that other sex stables are missing. Sure, its weird to watch people have sex while subtitles play below. And yes, the barely visible plot approach is pedestrian at best. But director Patrick Handsome is so good at selling sheer sexual pleasure and hard ass fucking that you can't help but get caught up in the action. On the Disco Dirge Peter Meter, this movie rates a healthy 7.5 out of 10 and is recommended. Sure, JPX ruins the two scenes he is in with his rush job concept of cocksmanship. But since the players manage to surpass mere Euro-trash status and actually evoke elegance and eroticism, this fuck flick is hard to resist. Couples can also enjoy the multiple positioning, so a Cohabitation Certification is easily granted. As Public Enemy once opined, "don't' believe the hype". And when it comes to the way Hustler sells Circle of Deceit, truer words have not been spoken. Don't be fooled: this is not some stellar foreign thriller. But it is an evocative hardcore title that really delivers where it counts. Or maybe it's just we're all suckers for people with a foreign accent.

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