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‘Wild Orchid’ (R)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 04, 1990

Down in Rio, at least the Rio you see in "Wild Orchid," all Brazilians are just waiting to party at the drop of a hat. In fact, they don't even need the hat. Wherever visitors Mickey Rourke, Jacqueline Bisset and Carre Otis go, there they are, undulating, gyrating and thrusting pelvises.

Happy, brown-skinned people.

But they're just atmospheric figures in this second "adventure of the senses," from the people who brought you "9 1/2 Weeks." Multilingual lawyer Otis, hired by investment banker Bisset to close an international deal, learns the language of passion, which comes at her in soft-rock video sequences, full of slow motion, mood music, hilariously art-trashy compositions, and of course wind machines.

The sensual education begins when Otis stumbles upon two of those uninhibited Brazilians doing . . . well, it ain't the lambada. It continues when Bisset sets her up with Rourke, a puffy-faced, earring-bearing, lip-blistered, I-Musta-Fallen-Asleep-in-the-Tanning-Salon businessman who slinks around Rio with two muscle-bound bodyguards and a collection of post-Kama Sutra wisdom nuggets to impart.

"If you didn't want to play," says the heir apparent to "Last Tango's" Marlon Brando, "you wouldn't be here."

Later, when a German couple sitting in the limo with Rourke and Otis, suddenly does . . . well, it ain't the beer-barrel polka, he asks her, "What do you see?"

"I see two people having sex," Otis answers.

"Making love," says Rourke. "There's a difference."


It's an important difference to Rourke because, well, he's more sensitive than he used to be, and he just can't bring himself to pluck those peaches any more, including well-ripened, still-beautiful Bisset, who makes the mistake of being like the rest of them, as well as trying to act in a movie like this. Rourke's got this emotional wall around him and it's going to take a true woman like Otis to break it down.

"Just reach out and touch me," she says, unbuttoning her blouse.

There's something about "Orchid" that's appealing, at least for the so-bad-it's-good aficionados. It inspires a guilty combination of howling amusement and rubbernecky fascination, aided by the overpowering, Brazil-meets-lounge music, the sultry images supplied by cinematographer Gale Tattersall and the life's-a-decadent-dinner-party sets of art director Carlos Conti.

There are also bound to be good moments from the audience, like the time last Sunday when an older gentleman, after sitting through another of "Orchid's" steamy, arty montages, leaned across to his wife and boomed, "I'm having trouble following this."

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