3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy 3D肉蒲團之極樂寶鑑
Costume erotic fantasy
2011, colour, 3-D, 1.85:1, 112 mins
Directed by Christopher Sun (孫立基)
By Derek Elley
Mon, 16 May 2011, 14:09 PM (HKT)
Okay but over-long costume hijinks that turn rather dark in the second half. Genre and Asian events, plus sexy ancillary.
Ancient China. Wei Yangsheng (Hayama Hiro) is a young scholar who is obsessed with seeking sexual pleasure. Accompanying his wealthy friend Lin (Tenky Tin) to meet Tie Yuxiang (Leni Lan), the unmarried only daughter of Daoist priest Tie Fei, for a potential match, Wei falls for her instead and - to Lin's annoyance - she reciprocates. The two marry but their sex life is hindered by her inexperience and his habit of premature ejaculation. One day, Wei accompanies Lin to the mountain-top Tower of Rarities, an exclusive collection of artistic treasures owned by the Prince of Ning (Tony Ho), where he is invited into the inner sanctum of the Pavilion of Ultimate Bliss, a haven of hedonism and unlimited sexual pleasure. There he meets the prince's favourite woman, coitus expert Ruizhu (Hara Saori), as well as the sadistic Dongmei (Suo Yukiko) and the androgynous Elder of Bliss (Vonnie Lui). To cure Wei's sexual problem, The Elder of Bliss suggests Wei gets a donkey's penis transplant, and afterwards Wei abandons himself to unlimited sexual pleasure. Meanwhile, under pressure from her family, Wei's wife plans to divorce him; but by now The Prince of Ning has him in a deadly trap.
Since JU Gyeong-jung 주경중's mystery-melodrama Natali 나탈리 (2010) beat it to the post last October as the world's first 3-D erotic movie, this Hong Kong production has had to be content with being the first Chinese-language 3-D erotic movie. But it comfortably beats the glossy, more sensuous South Korean production on every other front — from sheer silliness through use of the stereoscopic process to sex, violence and naughty bits — while still remaining, like Natali, technically softcore. That said, this first feature by Christopher SUN 孫立基 is too often blockily directed (the camera seemingly tied by the technology), suddenly swings midway from comic raunchiness to cartoonish sadism, and simply isn't as playful, exotic or just plain erotic as the original '90s trio — especially the first outing, Michael MAK 麥當傑's Sex and Zen 玉蒲團之偷情寶鑑 (1991), starring the pneumatic Amy YIP 葉子楣 at the peak of her fame, and Cash CHIN 錢文錡's Sex & Zen II 玉蒲團２之玉女心經 (1996), with SHU Qi 舒淇 and Loletta LEE 李麗珍.
Manga-like sadism was always a component of the original series but in 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy 3D肉蒲團之極樂寶鑑 (2011) it dominates the second half in such a way as to effectively make the picture seem like two separate films. The other surprise is that, sexually, the film is way less inventive and much more conservative than the '90s series. The 3-D process is exploited more during action than sex scenes, with only one shot (40 minutes in) of an actress' breasts thrust into the audience and most others more interested in whizzing bullets than anything more erotic.
With none of the playfulness of, say, Elvis TSUI 徐錦江 in II and III of the original series, Japanese actor-model HAYAMA Hiro 葉山豪 makes a fairly bland protagonist who undergoes a massive organ transplant to indulge his cybaritic impulses. Of the Japanese AV actresses, HARA Saori 原紗央莉 (aka Nanami Mai 七海まい) easily outranks her compatriot SUO Yukiko 周防ゆきこ and Chinese co-stars in sexiness and intrigue but gets limited screen time. Mainland actress Leni Lan (藍燕) spends most of the second half screaming and being tortured, while Hong Kong's Vonnie LUI 雷凱欣 has the most fun as an androgyne.
As a whole, the Red One-sourced movie is professionally mounted and enjoyable in an undemanding way; but it's also limited in its imagination and production design, and lacking a light comedic touch to leaven the routine. (A thunderous, satanic score, complete with choirs, drives much of the second half's action.) A longer version of about 128 minutes has also been prepared but may only be seen on DVD. Given the repetitiveness of the 112-minute Hong Kong version (reviewed here), especially in the middle section, adding a further quarter of an hour may not be a very good idea.
ContactSales: Pegasus Motion Pictures, Hong Kong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: Hong Kong, 14 Apr 2011.
Presented by One Dollar Productions (HK). Produced by One Dollar Productions (HK), Local Production (HK), Newport (HK), China 3D (HK). Executive producer: Stephen Shiu. Producers: Stephen Shiu, Stephen Shiu Jr.
Script: Stephen Shiu, Stephen Shiu Jr., Mark Wu. Photography: Jimmy Wong. Editing: Azrael Chung, Matthew Hui. Art direction: Tony Yu. Costume design: Cindy Cheung. Sound: Kinson Tsang. Action: Lee Tat-chiu. Visual effects: Darkus Yu. 3-D visual effects: Au Hing-cheong (Digital Magic).
Cast: Hayama Hiro (Wei Yangsheng), Hara Saori (Ruizhu), Leni Lan (Tie Yuxiang, Wei's wife), Vonnie Lui (The Elder of Bliss), Suo Yukiko (Dongmei), Irene Chen (Pandan), Tony Ho (Prince of Ning), Tenky Tin (Lin), Wong Shee-tong (Buddhist abbot), Hasegawa Naami [Kinoshita Tomoko], Cliff Chen, Carina Chen, Vienna Lin, Justin Cheung, Jason Yiu.