This Vietnam-era flash-back is ambitious, accomplished and is packed with steamy sex scenes, including a potential nominee. There is a finely-wrought integration of stock war-era footage —the coordination of on-camera explosions and demolitions effects with the actual explosions recorded in the stock footage— all superbly-done. If there was an AVN Award for Special Effects, this alone would qualify; as it is, it's a shoo-in for a Best Video Editing nomination. Kudos, too, to terrific (and varied!) music by G.G. Steel, who proves he can score hetero as well as gay video, and Canterbury's usual fine direction. This kind of attention to detail is rare enough in porn that it merits this kind of recognition.
So why "only" AAAA? Two reasons — one, the story of grunt Tony Tedeschi, struggling to stay faithful to back-home girl Tiffany Mynx, amidst death and whorehouse degradation, is a downer. It's well-done enough, and believable, but it's enough of a downer — in this reviewer's taste — to offset some of the eroticism. Second, the sex scenes — a backseat Tony-Tiffany flashback; several whorehouse encounters with Oriental babes; and an outdoor succumbing to temptation by Tony with the toothsome Asia Carrera — are essentially episodic, and neither match the tone of the dialogue nor advance the story. Also, the sex scenes outside the cathouse are in static locales, and don't offer enough of a break. In short, very good — near-great, in fact — but not good enough for top status.
The sex highlight is an incredible 17-minute bout with massive Sean Michaels manhandling tiny, sexy Tricia Yen, who obviously has never read the late B. Kliban's Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head.
For sensual contrasts (big/small, black/Asian, solemn/joyful) and sheer sexual staying power, this scene is tough to beat. Steve Drake's bout with round-faced Oriental cutie Vivian, and obnoxious Buck Adams' threeway with Melanie Masglow and an out-of-place Victoria Andrews also hit the boiling point. Tony and Asia's outdoor coupling is a decent-enough matchup of two of porn's most attractive performers, but the sense of Tony giving in, and then reveling in his first sex in months, is partly missing, partly dampened by the dour moodplay.
Top boxcover, well worth watching, but ultimately frustrating in its propinquities.