A quick glance at the all-too-similar video covers of most "erotic thrillers" might lead you into the assumption that they are all alike. There are actually several subgenres, including the "love triangle gone wrong," the "serial killer whom the heroine may know," and the "man in over his head in the sleazy underworld." But arguably the most popular subgenre is the one in which a professional or otherwise virtuous woman is forced by circumstance or desire to become a prostitute. Or sometimes a stripper. But usually a prostitute.
"You want me to do what
with a chicken and a canatalope?"
On one hand, Ultimate Desires is a typical example of this genre. Tracy Scoggins plays a public defender who is seduced into the highly exciting and rewarding world of high class hooking. The whole movie only really exists to get an allegedly classy woman like Scoggins (Lois & Clark, Babylon 5) into lots of slutty lingerie and sexually demeaning situations, and maybe give us a peek at her maguppies too.
The weird thing about Ultimate Desires is that rather than just getting to the stripping and the bedding, Ultimate Desires treats us to a complicated, often incomprehensible plot that puts the fate of world peace in the balance. No, really. We're not kidding.
Tracy Scoggins plays Samantha Stewart, a predictably uptight public defender who works mostly with prostitutes. One night Samantha is walking down a random street when Victoria (Suzy Joachim), a high class hooker, is thrown out of a limo right at her feet.
When Brion James thinks about the career
of Tim Thomerson, he just has to hurt someone.
Actually, it seems that Samantha and Victoria might have known each other before the events of the movies, but it's difficult to tell. We see their relationship in flashbacks that might be fantasies. If they did know each other, then the location of Vicky's limo diving experience is an enormous, silly coincidence. The next night, Vicky is murdered. Because we're the lucky audience, we know that Victoria was murdered by a conspiracy looking for a certain brooch which passed into Sam's keeping during the limo incident. The brooch is needed because it can some how cause or prevent "the new cold war."
B-movie aficionados take note: the conspiracy's main assassin (named "Wolf," of all things) is played by Brion James, the man who uttered the famous words "Time to die!" in Blade Runner. No, he doesn't get to repeat that performance. Instead, he fakes a German accent. (Last time we saw him, he was faking a British accent in Hong Kong '97.)
The police seem unenthusiastic about the case; they chalk it up to drug-related violence and shrug their shoulders at Samantha's questions. She takes it upon herself to solve Vicky's murder, and fondles a few of her friend's lacy underthings while her flashbacks randomly intrude on our main story. By this point in the film, we had already developed the desire to string up the movie's editor with his own videotape.
"I am Scoggins of the Nazgul! I ride north
from Mordor! I search for the One
brooch, the one to find them,
the one to bind them, and I will
seduce all in my way!
The members of the conspiracy, seen meeting in a goofy, shadowed secret conference room, are not pleased. When Samantha begins nosing around Vicky's old life, they get the idea that Sam might have the brooch and they send Wolf after her too. Wolf and his partner (portrayed by some guy who looks like the brother of Sting's stunt double) mosey over to Sam's apartment and pick up the brooch but fail in their mission to kill Samantha.
One would think that, having settled the matter of the brooch, the film would be pretty much over. Instead, it abruptly shifts gears and Johnathan Sullivan (Marc Singer), is pushed into the movie for its final half-hour. Sullivan appeared for about thirty seconds at the beginning of the flick and then vanished. He returns to the plot when Sam reaches the inevitable (but stupid) conclusion that in order to solve Vicky's murder, she has to (gasp) dress up like a hooker.
Samantha dons a slinky getup and then goes to keep a convenient appointment that Vicky had with Sullivan, the only other person in the movie besides the conspiracy who knows about the brooch and its true purpose.
"Hey Brion: Time to die! Get it? Huh? Do ya?"
When Samantha shows up for the appointment, Sullivan just wants to watch Samantha (fully clothed) being mildly pawed by a bunch of asian guys. What? Is this Sullivan's fantasy? If so, he needs to get out more often. But then again, there seems to be a chance that the meeting never happened, and the whole thing is Samantha's fantasy, in which case she needs to get out more often.
Geez, considering how much time we wasted thinking about that stupid scene, maybe we need to get out more often.
Because somebody has to have sex in this movie Samantha and Sullivan eventually get busy. Unfortunately for Sam, Sullivan is merely using the poor woman to retrieve the brooch and has his own evil plans for it. Unlike the conspiracy, though, Sullivan doesn't want to kill her after he explains his plan that will shift the balance of world politics for the worse.
Sullivan: There's nothing you can do about it. If I thought there was, I'd kill you. Right now.
Samantha: What about us?
Whattayamean, what about us? The man just told you he wants to undermine civilization, and you want to know if he's going to call you in the morning? This is just one example of the film's inanity, and yet it pales to the movie's real problem: terrible editing.
Almost exactly an hour into Ultimate Desires, we felt as if someone had suddenly changed channels on us. Characters we'd never seen before appeared and spoke dialogue totally unrelated to the previous hour's events. We think someone in the editing room started rolling dice to determine which scene to include next, and which movie the scene would come from. It was unbelievably confusing. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a truly terrible movie.
"I swear, man, I'm not the editor!
You've got the wrong guy! Aaaaagh!"
Totally lost by the plot's sudden turn, our minds began to wander and we thought for a little while about Wolf. Why exactly did Wolf have to return to the conspiracy's meeting room every time he wanted to give a progress report? Wouldn't that be terribly inefficient? The conspirators must have spent so much time in that meeting room that they never heard of cell phones.
Watching Ultimate Desires is like going out on a bad date: when it's over, you feel a little bit ashamed, incredibly confused, and completely unsatisfied. And you got all dressed up in that classy powder blue tux for nothing.