The Forbidden Legend Sex & Chopsticks (2008)
Produced & directed by: Cash Chin
The last of his kind seemingly and not in denial either, Cash Chin (Sex & Zen II, The Eternal Evil Of Asia, Naked Poison) is making sure that smut, trash and smutty trash still has a place in Hong Kong cinema. Making movies during the Category III heyday and continuing on pretty much by himself after the trend had died down, Chin pops up again in 2008 as he tackles the classical Chinese 100 chapter novel Jin Ping Mei (The Plum In the Golden Vase) in the first of two movies attacking the currently fairly clean Hong Kong cinema.
Considered the fifth classical novel (smut always ends up further down the list) after the prestigious quartet of Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey To The West and Dream of the Red Chamber, as is the case with many misunderstood PORNOGRAPHIC works (and this was a first for its time), the book has enjoyed widespread ban but also widespread respect thanks to among other things social issues inherited within such as sexual politics and the role of women in ancient Chinese society (at least that's what Wikipedia tells us) but cheapo Hong Kong sexploitation filmmakers weren't really interested in all of that in combination with flesh. If elements are bold enough however, such as the depiction of sex toys in Jin Ping Mei, that's a reason to create moving "art" and put a tag on your movie that it's based on a classical work. What does Cash Chin opt to do then as arguably he's one of those fun filmmakers?
Well ultimately the core plot interest of Jin Peng Mei (depicting the downfall of the Ximan household) will presumably be covered in the sequel as The Forbidden Legend Sex & Chopsticks is the backstory to the character Ximen Qing (or Simon Qing according to the subtitles. A joke or a classic piece of subtitling?) played by Oscar Lam (A Chinese Torture Chamber II, My Horny Girlfriend). Following his training from an early age under the watchful eyes of his father played by Norman Tsui (Duel To The Death), in fact the father's profession is sexual in nature so he passes on the secrets to winning the hearts and minds of women. That includes training his penis to "Iron Dick"-standard. Jack Black and Kyle Gass from Tenacious D claimed you would only need one cock-pushup but this film depicts it to be a daily thing and the bigger hole you make in the ground, the longer you've gotten in your training. It's that kind of film and when an adult, Ximan goes out in the world to experience women but he's slipping away from his father's good intentions into womanizing, power-hungry mode...
Not in any way attempting to re-create aspects hailed at the literature stage, director Chin rather adheres to the Category III content we once found in the movies he did himself. This thankfully mean the movie doesn't take itself seriously (at least not in this part of the story) and the sex- and smut platter is suitably loaded up with silliness and outrageousness too in a rather limited frame in terms of budget (compared to other My Way-productions however, this looks dynamite).
Not devoid of interest in the interplay between Ximan and his father, at the early more innocent stages there are issues put forth that are very politically correct, such as not giving up your virginity haphazardly and certainly the sexual frustration of young Ximan not allowed to have sex is both real and amusingly crass. As the final stages of his house training rolls along, the erotica makes its statement that it's going to be a combo of steam, silliness and length. Because this film pads running time with sex just as much as others have, even if Chin isn't as blatantly obvious with it. Throughout he showcases the thoughtfulness of Ximan but also the selfishness as he throws women to the wayside more often as the flick rolls along. Especially his actual wife Moon played by Wikana Hikuru, the sole one of the Japanese porn actresses given any acting challenge as she goes from curious monk to sexually driven woman. It's via her role the titular chopsticks makes a brief appearance as she touches Ximan's nether regions with said utensils initially.
It's not great filmmaking and The Forbidden Legend Sex & Chopsticks pretty much is us being flung around the constant sexual encounters featuring Ximan. Which is good and a shame because early on we had a worthy thought process present but as Ximan evolves into something more bad, interest level peters out as this character can't carry interest on his own. Which is why I hope the women of the Ximan-household will truly get a chance to shine in the sequel. But by no means unworthy as a Category III romp with attractive sights, kicked in the nuts humour followed by cartoon effects, tender to high flying Wuxia style sex, this type of filmmaking could proclaim it's back. It's also adhering to a balance and standard very familiar to the Sex & Zen II-crowd but Cash Chin should increase his insane energy to those past levels next time around. There he also has the challenge to live up the novel as now he can't briefly glance at the famous plot structure anymore if he wants substance. I do actually doubt he will transform his vision to something stunning but it's letter of challenge despite.
The DVD (Joy Sales):
Video: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1.
Subtitles: English (varying in correctness but very coherent and suitable for the material at hand), traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
Extras: The trailer. In the dvd case you'll also find a 2009 calendar and a condom. The latter is not a typo.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson