Touted as one of Sin City's "big" releases for 2005, I was really looking forward to Undertow. It had a kick-ass trailer that Sin City's been showing over on their website; features sexy contract stars Aurora Snow, Hannah Harper and Shay Sweet; plus has a storyline about an evil terrorist looking to destroy the American government...so what could go wrong? Quite a lot, actually. While Undertow is still good enough to rank as a better-than-average adult release, I found it to be quite a disappointment given the build-up we've been given by Sin City.
The movie opens on the set of an adult internet website show that is being run by Steven St. Croix – who will turn out to be the hero in this movie. The website's crew is filming a lesbian scene between Shay Sweet and Tory Love that includes fingering and oral, but no toy play (which is a positive for many fans of girl/girl action). Shay sticks around for the second sex scene of the movie, which is a boy/girl encounter with Billy Glide. Neither Shay's character or either of these scenes have much to do with the plot that follows.
A government agent (he wears an FBI jacket, but claims to be from another dark ops government agency) played nicely (perhaps the best performance in Undertow) by Dale DaBone arrests Steven's character and tells him that he wants him to go undercover for the government. After some negotiating (basically telling Steven he's going to do this or wind up dead), Steven agrees and Dale lets him in on what's going on. An evil terrorist named Victor (played by Evan Stone), who also happens to be part of a drug-dealing surfer group (don't ask!) is planning to blow up a federal building in the area. Steven's job is to go undercover, get into Victor's group and do what he can to find out how and when Victor plans to blow up the building.
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Our first introduction to Evan Stone's character begins with a pairing between him and the sexy Aurora Snow. Aurora has long been one of my favorite adult stars – but this is only one of her average scenes, although she does get some anal in the standing doggy position.
Undertow goes from "silly" to "laughably bad" in a few sequences where Evan and Steven sword fight (using Japanese Samurai swords) on the beach. I don't know if the actors were using real swords or if the scene was just poorly shot by director Francois Clousot, but both Evan and Steven attack each other so slowly that the viewer can't help but chuckle at the unintentionally humorous action.
Although Hannah Harper gets the prime position on the movie's box cover, she has a thankless role here – appearing in only one scene and having virtually nothing to do with the story. Her scene is a one-on-one with Dale DaBone that includes anal in the reverse cowgirl position, and a little ass to mouth action.
By far the best sex in the movie comes during the next to last scene where John West and Anthony Hardwood (who are playing two of Evan's assistants) get into a three-way with the very-cute and very young-looking German girl, Shayna Knight. There's some nice anal penetration here, plus viewers will get to see Shayna get double penetrated and get a pair of creamy facials at the scene's conclusion.
The final sex scene takes place three months after the primary action in the movie has concluded, and is a coupling between Steven (you didn't think he was going to lose, did you?) and Aurora that happens outside on a blanket in the grass. It almost seems as if the scene has been tacked on as an afterthought...as even the look of the scene doesn't match the rest of the movie. It's rather bland action, and Aurora only gets it in the missionary position before Steven jerks off onto her face.
The good news is that Sin City has decided to release Undertow in the anamorphic widescreen format. The bad news is that the picture is so washed-out of color and "soft lit" (studios tend to do this to make the actresses look more appealing) that one wonders why they even bothered. This is a very disappointing transfer, although I suppose the smaller your TV screen, the less it will bother you.
As for the audio, it's even worse – believe it or not. Sin City has only given viewers a 2.0 track, and you really have to crank up the audio to hear what's going on. For myself, I found that I had to turn up my volume to almost double of normal listening levels to hear the soundtrack. Fortunately, what has been recorded has been pretty evenly recorded – meaning you won't have to turn up the volume during the dialogue and then rush to turn it down again because the sex scenes are blaringly loud (this is a problem on more adult titles than you'd probably guess).
One area in which Undertow didn't let me down was in the bonus material. Included are interviews with all the girls in the movie (although sadly the interview segments suffer the same video/audio problems as the feature...and aren't anamorphic, either); as well as a feature-length commentary track with the director and the editor of the title.
Other bonus features include text biographies for the entire cast (including the male performers); three photo galleries (one hardcore, one softcore and one behind the scenes); a 7-minute behind the scenes featurette; and 5 trailers for other Sin City releases.
BRIAN'S BOTTOM LINE
Very few adult companies are taking the time to invest in well-written, well-filmed adult features these days – which is why Undertow is such a disappointment. It seems like they had a good idea for a movie here, but just were unable to execute...and the poor A/V quality doesn't help this release much, either. Still, there's probably enough on this disc to make it worth checking out as a rental – although you'll want to steer clear of dishing out the full purchase price until you've checked it out for yourself.