3-D Sex and Zen

Year: 2011
Director: Christopher Sun Lap Kay
Writer: Stephen Shiu/Mark Wu

I was aware of a series of comic/erotic Asian movies in a franchise called Sex and Zen, so I didn't realise this was a new movie. But as soon as I saw the first 3D gimmick of some weapon or other thrusting orgasmically at the camera I knew it had been shot with 3D in mind and could only be a new venture. I gather it's a loose remake of the 1991 original.

The thrusting 3D weapons (ahem) are the pointy end (ahem) of the complete lack of subtlety I've seen in any Chinese director in the last ten years in everything from the blood and guts to the over the top performance.

No Western film would throw such comedy and horror together with such gay abandon. After an extended gag about transplanting a horse penis to a man the tone shifts several times and we end up with scenes like a naked woman hanging by chains from the ceiling being raped by a warlord. That's after she's been bathing herself and a local beefcake jumps into the bath to rapes her (which she ends up loving, showing either the dubious moral stance of the writer and director or their insider knowledge it's all satire for something). In fact rape – or the threat of it – is as prevalent as the sex and nudity in the last quarter or so.

And to show sadness, the characters don't just cry, they crawl along the floor clawing desperately at the air while they scream themselves hoarse. I'm not sure if Chinese cinema as a whole is a joke to parody the inauthentic emotion of most movies in general or if being expressive to a point we'd find comical in the West is a peculiarity of their language and culture.

After meeting and marrying a winsome young woman in what appears to be an 18th century fuedal China the hero can't satisfy her sexually, never lasting more than a few seconds. They subsequently get divorced and he gains entry into the cave stronghold of a cruel and devious warlord, a place of legend where your every sexual fantasy is satisfied.

For a reason I still can't understand they still desperately love each other, even though the hero shags his way through a stream of increasingly comic scenes and the woman allows herself to be wooed by another man.

There's also an ancient wizard with a creepy old man's voice in the body of a buxom young woman, two master surgeons (one blind, the other with no hands) who can transplant any penis and a host of other characters that range from the funny to the terrible.

And when it's all over, little of it has been actually sensual or sexy. There's plenty of mouth watering female flesh on show and one or two authentically erotic scenes but most of it's a high camp caricature of lovemaking.

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