VCD cover

Sex and Zen


Director: Michael Mak

Stars: Lawrence Ng, Amy Yip, Isabella Chow, Lo Lieh, Carrie Ng, Rena Murakami, Kent Cheng, Elvis Tsui

A playboy (Lawrence Ng) marries a cold fish (Amy Yip), so he goes to one of his friends for advice. On taking a look at his small "equipment," the buddy says he won't help until he's "hung like a horse" (yes, that is the exact line). So what does Ng do? Well, like any sane person (*cough*) he goes to a backdoor doctor (Kent Cheng), who cuts off his penis and put on a horse's in its' place. Ng is quite happy with the new third arm, but it leads to all sorts of trouble as he makes his way around to all the local ladies.

This movie has been called a "classic" by some, but, frankly, if this movie didn't have subtitles, I think the same people would probably recognize Sex and Zen for what it is -- a softcore porno. Yes, it does have a fairly substantial plot (at least for this type of sex romp) based on a 17th erotic novel called "Carnal Praying Mat," it does have nice production values, it does have some good acting along with some decent comedy, and it does have Amy "Miss Giant Boobs" Yip displaying as much skin as she has in a movie (not the full monty though). But when a movie stops regularly so a sex scene can be shown from foreplay to orgasm, that qualifies as porn in my book, no matter how arty it might be.

To be honest, though, sex scenes are some of the most boring things to watch on film in my opinion. You can shoot them in really only two ways -- the overfiltered soft-focus stuff (which most of this movie is) or the nasty gynelogical closeup variety. And really, how much gyrating and overactive panting can one person be expected to watch? I feel like a bit of a hypocrite -- I normally wouldn't fault a film for being too violent or having too many action scenes -- but Sex and Zen feels like one of those kinds of movies you'd feel embarrassed if your mother walked on you watching it. Despite claims by "Asian Cult Cinema" author that Sex and Zen "is refreshingly graphic without being hardcore," I found a few scenes pretty disgusting and not the least bit sexy, such as one with a giant horse-sized penis being masturbated into a loaf a bread, from which... well, I won't go into more detail -- I don't want my account to be yanked -- but I think you get the idea. If you want a further argument, Sex and Zen is the first movie I've seen which has "recommended by Penthouse" in its end credits.

Yes, this film does have its fans, and if you're into softcore porn, it's pretty good for that type of movie. Unlike a lot of other sexually explicit Asian movies, there's little malice towards women during the sex scenes, which is a nice change of pace. And I will grant that some of the sex scenes have (as one internet poster put it) "inventive choreography." However, to paraphrase Austin Powers, "it's not my bag, baby."


A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here

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