O (Isabelle Illiers) has been taken to Hong Kong by her master Sir Stephen (Klaus Kinski), having made a contract with him to be his slave and do whatever he wishes her to, even though this has made her noticeably miserable. Yet she perversely loves her suffering, and when she is escorted to a grotty brothel in one of the city's most cramped districts O wonders what her mentor has in mind, and whether it involves him seducing her which is what she really wants. But what he actually does is set her to work as one of the prostitutes; first, however, she must spend a long while in her cell-like room to think over her place in the world...
Fruits of Passion was a somewhat optimistic title for what was the unofficial sequel to seventies softcore hit The Story of O, based on the book by the author of that sadomasochistic favourite (if you can call it that), optimistic because there were few sexually-themed movies more doleful than this. A French/Japanese production in the same vein as In the Realm of the Senses, it was shot in the Far East by noted Japanese poet and filmmaker Shûji Terayama who didn't have long to live when he made this, thanks to a medical condition which was wasting him away. That might explain why the tone here was joyless and dejected, was the director losing his lust for life? Or lust for lust, for that matter?
However, if you were unfamliiar with that particular artist, whose fame never really spread too far out of his home region, then the main draw would be that old reprobate Klaus Kinski, here having his wish granted to have sex with attractive women and get paid for doing so, rather than the other way around. With his cadaverous visage he wasn't going to be the most fun to watch shagging his way through a movie, but he was notable for being a proper name actor who genuinely did participate in sex acts onscreen, well before the vogue in art cinema for blurring the lines between the highbrow and outright pornography was to come into play sometime around the approaching turn of the century.
So if you had heard the rumours that Kinski would chase anything in a skirt, and that included his own relatives for maximum discomfort whenever you decided to watch one of his movies after that bombshell, then you could watch him indulge himself in his favourite pasttime for real in Fruits of Passion. To see what was at one time a fairly big name, if only due to his long filmography and unmistakable looks, getting into these raunchy situations and obviously enjoying it was still surprising - though why he kept his shoes and socks on for one encounter was a question whose answer was left a mystery for the ages - and in truth it wasn't exactly erotic when he wasn't one of the movie stars people would most like to see carrying out such activities.
If indeed there were any at all. If the image of Kinski locked in passion with an unnamed Japanese actress and the rather better known French star Arielle Dombasle wasn't enough, Terayama offered up a few more vivid visuals which were unlikely to fire anyone up. O's continued depression is a plot point, but so is the Chinese rebellion against the ruling British of whom the unsympathetic Sir Stephen is one, which allows events to build to the denouement. In the meantime there are such attention-grabbers as a piano in the river (nobody plays it, but someone does die on it, funseekers) and O riding a big wooden duck while some older Chinese bloke has his wicked way with her. Dombasle played Nathalie, Sir Stephen's best friend who he has sex with while O is chained up in the same room to drive her crazy, although whether you'd notice the blank Illiers reacting is debatable. That this was patently an abusive relationship we were watching did not lend itself to entertainment, with possibly only diehard Fifty Shades of Grey fans able to find amusement in it. Music by J.A. Seazer.