Film Review: 3D Sex and Zen

This is one of the sexiest things about 3D Sex and Zen

3D SEX AND ZEN is the newest addition in a line of erotic films that were abundant in the early 90’s.  Gone are the days where superstars made their name in Hong Kong Category III films that featured softcore pornographic scenes (Golden Horse winning actress Shu Qi started off in Hong Kong softcore porn before moving on to exclusively performing in non-nude roles).  Whereas it was once held as a staple of Hong Kong cinema, it has now become a niche form that is so taboo in the minds of the local populace that no respectable Hong Kong actress who wants to make it mainstream will even consider touching it (almost all of the female performers in the new Cateory III releases are no names or pornographic actresses from other regions).

I watched 3D SEX AND ZEN, a film that claims to be the first 3D (softcore) porn that ended up beating AVATAR’s opening box office in Hong Kong. Whether the high box-office intake means quality is questionable as many in Hong Kong claimed to have watched the film based on curiosity though I’m sure some were genuinely excited to see a classic genre and cinematic staple to be revived.

Being completely unprepared, I expected to see some sexual scenes over a lame story which 3D SEX AND ZEN delivered – and more. Starting with a colorful love story filled with tons of cheesy compliments, sweet gazes, lot’s of smooching and some humor, Wei Yangsheng (played by Japanese actor Hiro Hayama) and Tie Yuxiang (Taiwanese actress Leni Lan) are introduced as a couple who fell in love at first sight. In a typical porn movie, where everything simply goes toward reaching a climax (not cinematically if you know what I mean), the room for character development is non-existent. In order to make 3D SEX AND ZEN seem like something more than a sex-driven vehicle, the film combines the sex with some kind of character narrative. Wei Yangsheng can’t satisfy his wife nor any girl for that matter, including Japanese pornographic actress Saori Hara and Yukiko Suo – anyone see the trend here?  So he searches for a way to better “equip himself” so he can satisfy a woman while receiving some satisfaction himself.

This part of the film is a lot of fun and plays homage to the original SEX AND ZEN from 1991 starring famous TV star Lawrence Ng and Amy Yip. The sex scenes are overly exaggerated and people’s “parts” are used in weird ways, one of them being to carry a giant wooden wheel, spinning it around and throwing it in other peoples faces as a way to demonstrate sexual prowess. You must be thinking, “wait, isn’t porn supposed to be erotic though? How is that sexy?” I guess it’s not considering the one wielding the wheel is a woman and why she has the parts to perform such a task, I don’t know but since the sex in the beginning is based on the cheesy romance of the leading couple, it can be somewhat sexy.  It can be so even in the second act of the film if you can get past the trashy humour.

But once the third act hits, the eroticism gets buried along with the humour into something that freaks people out.  Suddenly everything gets more and more brutal and violent. All of a sudden, weapons and dead bodies appear more than the sex and the movie slowly develops into a torture film. Expecting to see some beautiful bodies doing beautiful things, the film left me uncomfortable with its images of hard violence that results in a bloody mess from dissected bodies and cut off appendages.  These acts increase in amount toward the end of the film.

Also, regarding the 3D, did it add anything to the film?  Unfortunately nothing.  Until now I haven’t seen a single film that took real advantage of this technique. All I’ve seen so far is stuff being thrown at my face and trust me, a CGI-looking naked breast approaching you isn’t that much more exiting than a spear or a toaster, not to mention how most of the 3D in this supposedly erotic film are bullets, knives and rocks flying in front of my face.   3D SEX AND ZEN could have been wonderfully cheesy with its 3D usage but it repeats the same mistakes I’ve seen in other 3D pictures, which is using it unnecessarily as a gimmick to make money.

Overall, the film could have been an erotic buffet, but sadly it’s not.