Cast: Tawny Roberts, Rocco Siffredi, Janine, Manuel Ferrara, Tera Bond, Alberto Rey, Black Diamond, Mya Diamond, Sylvia, Leslie Taylor, Victoria Swinger, Lauro Giotlo, Frank Gun, Antonio Ross, Dasha; Julian (bonus scene only)
Non-sex roles: Paul Thomas, Anita Rinaldi, Ben Hoffman, Cindy, many uncredited
Length: 126.5 minutes
Date of Production: 9/8/2004
Extra's: The only extra on the first disc was a director's audio commentary on the film with only Paul discussing what he was shooting and trying to achieve, seeming to apologize in several spots while managing to defend his ground about certain aspects of his movies in general. If you have any interest in the man at all, this was one of his more introspective self examinations; though I wish he had some of the others involved with the movie helping out as he let a lot of dead space roll by without talking. Otherwise, the first disc of the two-disc set included the movie and some spam only but the second disc really shined as an example of what Vivid can do when it wants to do so. The extras on the second disc started off with a 36.5 minute long Behind the Scenes feature by Hot Rod Hank and Shylar Cobi (per the credits but Ben Hoffman in at least a few cases). It ended with an interview of Janine but had a lot of Rocco in it and the earlier interview of Paul Thomas with Janine present included a few comments about the Janine/Rocco spat, going so far as to admit to changing the script because of it. The next section was for deleted sex scenes; starting off with a fabulous blowjob by Janine on Rocco in the car, moving on to a 4.5 minute long deleted portion of a scene where Julian received a hummer by Janine with Rocco on backup during the theatre scene described below; that was followed by another 5 minute blowjob only scene in a limousine by Veronica on Dominic; a somewhat out of focus solo scene by Janine in the bathtub as she diddled herself with some glass toys, and the 9 minute all girl orgy starring Tawny Roberts and Dasha by the indoor pool (keep in mind that if the production company can't figure out who the ladies are, it's not fair to expect the reviewer without full credits to do so either). The best extra for me was the 71 minutes of extra sex that was deleted from the various scenes of the movie. Some of the bits looked really hot (material from the better scenes was clearly the best on the buffet here with the Janine/Rocco scene from the first part of the show weaker in terms of showing how much they didn't get along). Of great concern to porn fans everywhere was the 3.5 minutes of deleted dialogue, with several scenes fleshed out because of it but no revelations disclosed at any point. This was followed by 7.5 minutes of bloopers and outtakes that were more amusing than I expected going in to watching them. The usual five unrelated bonus scenes this time were: 1) Tawny Roberts and Evan Stone in a scene from Civilian Sex; 2) Janine and Evan Stone from their work in Janine's Been Blackmaled; 3) Janine and Randi Rage from Pink Janine; 4) Inari Vachs and Janine from The Secretary; and 5) Dasha and Dillion Day's scene from Shy. There were also some trailers, and two photogalleries along with a true double sided DVD cover as well.
Audio/Video Quality: Emperor was presented in the same 1.33:1 ratio full frame color as shot by director Paul Thomas for Vivid Entertainment on 35mm film. The lighting was typically better than average this time, relying on Ralph Parfait's keen eye to capture the sex as he has long been able to do. There were some moments with too much grain but overall, a solid job was done on the technical aspects of the scenes, enhancing the look of the ladies in almost every case. Yes, there were some bits with overly saturated colors but the editing could've cleaned that up (should've cleaned it up) though those moments weren't that frequent. I noticed that there was a fair amount of out of focus work that wasn't caught here too, especially on the deleted scenes but in the feature itself, and some print scratches that looked added in to convey that the production was on film instead of the more common video. The audio was presented in a barebones 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo English with the vocals competently captured and a few musical pieces that actually sounded like some thought was put into them. In general, the audio was pretty good compared to some of Vivid's other higher end projects.
-- sponsored by --
Body of Review: Paul Thomas is unique in porn these days as a man that seeks to bring thought provoking stories to his movies at Vivid Entertainment; even if it means sacrificing the sex as a result. That means that if you're in the market for a purely superficial stroke flick, you'll want to pass on most of his titles as they are made for an audience somewhat different than you would fall into. I know a lot of people consider such projects as pretentious and a waste of time (they can see poorly constructed "art" films from foreign and independent sources all over the place these days) but as adult entertainment, he can sometimes strike a chord or two in even the most jaded of us. His latest blockbuster feature is Emperor, starring Rocco Siffredi as an aging film director that seeks to renew his spirit with new challenges. Paying homage to Fellini in several spots, the movie seems to be a thinly veiled attempt by Paul to spotlight his own life in some ways; those who know him best being able to figure out where the reality ends and the fantasy begins (for those who don't know him too well, the director's commentary will bring you up to speed). The back cover explained it like this: "He came. He saw. He came. A major 35mm film. Shot on location in USA and Europe. A European film director (Rocco Siffredi) is in the middle of a mid-life crisis. He feels that maybe the world of adult films may fulfill his artistic visions. With his wife (Dasha) and ex-wife (Janine), they all rendezvous in Cannes for his latest project, in what may prove to be his last mainstream film. Rocco, at the festival, meets a mysterious woman who leads him down the path of adult cinema and to a new world of expression. No censors, nothing forbidden, no limits. Could this be the artistic kingdom that Rocco has been looking for, or a sexual wonderland? Paul Thomas presents Emperor, a Vivid Major Motion Picture." Okay, aside from the copy getting messed up a bit (easy to do thanks to the extensive use of flashbacks, mental drifting, and other artistic touches), the basic story of a director in search of a new muse to revitalize his life has been done many times before in both porn and in mainstream movies. Paul did an interesting job here with what he had to work with; the ten day shoot proving to be an ordeal thanks to some issues between the principle leads of the movie (Rocco and Janine butting heads) as well as other factors indicative of a porn shoot of such a magnitude. Here's a look at the scenes from the movie, noting that condoms were used and that there was more variety than Vivid tends to have (but cast identities were problematic so some of them might not be properly identified):
Scene One: Tawny Roberts, the cute blonde (former contract performer) that once was a shining starlet at Vivid, was up first in bed with Rocco Siffredi in a rough sex scene. She refused to be a passive lay for him, savoring the moment by aggressively sucking him off and even smacking him around a bit, leading to one of her best performances I can recall seeing. He went down on her too, digging for clams as he readied her for some vaginal screwing; spanking her before the anal sex took place. Keeping in mind that she wasn't the most active of riders (there's a difference between actively riding a cock and not being passive), he choked her and otherwise worked her over as they did one another. The scene ended in a facial that he licked off of her (she was so rough that she gave him a black eye in real life too), providing a decent opener for the sexual part of the movie.
Scene Two: Janine, the MILF hotty on the front DVD cover and sexual lead of the movie, was up next in the old Pussycat Theatre at night with Rocco Siffredi. This is the scene that sparked a lot of controversy a few years back because she found he was cutting the tips off of his condoms, Rocco's estimation of himself was such that he didn't see a problem with it and Janine's return to doing males on camera was specifically tied in with using protection so she wouldn't get pregnant again. Needless to say, the energy felt between the two was largely due to how much they hated one another and I have to credit the editing to saving the day in terms of making it strokable for fans. It was oral and vaginal only with a lot of limitations but as a fan of hers, I found it very heated. As an anecdote, the scene was supposed to include Julian but he had erection problems so he was cut from the movie; providing a short blowjob scene in the extras section (no, he wasn't giving one this time either; Janine was blowing him).
Scene Three: Janine, looking as good as ever, was up next as she gave taxi driver Manuel Ferrara a very special tip for complimenting her performance (and dissing her husband's movie) by an old brick warehouse. Her tan line gave me an erection but it was the way in which they seemed to truly get one another that elevated the heat a lot higher than the previous scene. It was also oral and vaginal only but she was willingly pushing her limits to the max (taking his cock as deep in her throat as possible) as though she were taking part in a revenge fuck of sorts against Rocco. I wasn't keen on how the scene was edited into the following one but it was clear that he wanted her badly and other than Erik Everhard, I don't think I've seen anyone so intense when they are into drilling a gal so you know it was the winner of the movie by a wide margin. It ended in a facial on the cold night but it was their sheer intensity that made it a winner for me.
Scene Four: Tera Bond, a brunette with some serious curves, was up next in bed with Alberto Rey (playing her husband), and Rocco Siffredi, playing the object of her fantasy. There was some interruption of the scene as part of the movie (he wanted to do things his way and she wanted him to play along with her specific desires) but it all got worked out and she jerked them off and blew them before Alberto screwed her pussy while she continued to blow Rocco. They blew their nuts on her face and that ended the scene as she got mad, ending a weak scene.
Scene Five: Next up was a gypsy orgy that combined Black Diamond, Mya Diamond, Sylvia, Leslie Taylor, and Rocco Siffredi with a group of real life gypsies in the lead character's subconscious mind. Not all of the ladies were identified as they danced and stripped but the sex wasn't terrible as they did one another in the presence of the gypsies (who largely carried on as if nothing special were taking place during a party at night). The emphasis was on oral sex with some vaginal and anal tossed in for good measure, but it reminded me of a Shane's World "sort of" scene more than a traditional porn scene though I was thankful that 500 pound Cindy wasn't included in the sex (as well as 60 year old Paul).
Scene Six: Veronica Carso, a beautiful blonde with incredible blue eyes, was up next with Rocco Siffredi in a bed at night. He licked and rimmed her before she sat on his cock for a vaginal ride; showing a lot of energy even as her repetitive vocals dragged on a bit (sounding like other parts of the movie that used vocal loops). He popped on her chest after a short bout of boning, marking another okay scene with limited replay value.
Scene Seven: The next scene was on the set of a porno/music video involving a Russian orgy (made up of the zombie cast members in large part) starring Cristina Bella, Victoria Swinger, Lauro Giotlo/Giotto, Frank Gun, Antonio Ross, and a couple of guys as Rocco directed them in a warehouse full of broken down old jalopies (symbolic of the character's career at this point in the flick). Cristina was clearly the focal point of the scene as she sucked and fucked with a lot of energy but both gals seemed to be having a good day in that sense with a limited blowbang leading to the vaginal and anal sex. There was a little bit of DP going on too but it almost seemed as though it were clips of a larger scene that was terribly edited down before the pop shots closed it out.
Scene Eight: Dasha, another former Vivid contract performer, was up next as she started a lesbian scene in bed with hotty Janine; using tongues and toys to get each other off, before it was cut short by Rocco Siffredi. Janine drew the short end of the straw and left while Dasha and Rocco gleefully went about eating and screwing one another with abandon. She showed a lot of passion as they screwed and it was second only to Janine's scene with Manuel in terms of being the best of the movie. Admittedly, the sexual athletics would have been better if Janine had stayed an active partner, but the story called for something different. Dasha did anal (a bit more passively though) and ended it by jerking him off on her chest, proving that the director could handle sex scenes better than many think he can.
Summary: Emperor was very entertaining as a feature film with regard to the acting by the leads and the admittedly confusing story and I expect it will win numerous awards for these aspects of the movie. The sex scenes all were made secondary to the story (per Paul, that's what he does) so as a stroke flick it was a mixed bag of tricks. This said, if you're in the market to have your mind motivated more than your libido, Emperor is in that rare class of movie that will serve it's intended audience far better than the raincoater crowd that just wants porn to jerk off to so know what you're getting into when picking up a copy. The extras were excellent and as a DVD package were on par with Island Fever 4 (in their respective categories of movie, of course); making it this year's equivalent to The New Devil In Miss Jones. I would have preferred the sex be the primary focal point of the movie but I suppose that the director wants something more out of life than being hailed as a guy that can shoot a stroke flick of epic proportions these days and I can't fault him for that. In all then, I rated this one as Highly Recommended for all it had to offer; proving that Vivid really did raise the bar from last year with this thought provoking feature.