3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy (2011)

Directed by: Christopher Suen
Written by: Stephen Shiu, Siu Ding-Yat & Mark Wu
Produces: Stephen Shiu, Siu Ding-Yat & Ng Kin-Hung
Starring: Hayama Hiro, Vonnie Lui, Tony Ho, Suo Yukiko, Lan Yan, Carina Chan & Tin Kai-Man

One that lived up to the hype commercially and critically, the producers of 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy (including Stephen Shiu, the producer of the 1991 Sex And Zen) knew how to trigger the roll of the marketing machine of this one. Getting press as far as Sweden (where mentions of Hong Kong productions in the press is non-existant usually), sex sells, 3D raises eyebrows and ultimately the production could tout itself as a critical and commercial success. Even without the lucrative China market as the censorship wouldn't allow the movie or a full version of it, special trips for fans were arranged in order for them to get to attend Hong Kong screenings and now a few years later as I take the plunge into the third dimension of Hong Kong period erotica (a genre quite dormant nowadays), does debut director Christopher Suen's movie matter at all, to new and old fans? It's quite a resounding yes, even though it does come off as a debut work (for both the man behind it and the sellable technique) wanting to feature everything for fear of not getting a job again. If Hong Kong productions of this kind and quality came back, we might party like it's the Category III 90s again.

Scholar Wei Yangsheng (Hayamo Hiro - New Police Story) marries early but craves sexual pleasures that means the wife and marriage is only in the way after a certain point. Getting to visit Prince Ning's (Tony Ho - The Longest Summer) Pavilion Of Ultimate Bliss, Ning has it all. Priceless art, hordes of women but Wei's problem is first and foremost a small penis and the inability to last more than a few seconds in bed. The Elder Of Ultimate Bliss (Vonnie Lui), an old man with the appearance of a beautiful woman may hold the key to continual sexual pleasures for the scholar, starting with a transplant landing him a donkey's penis and a paradise like existence. Soon this is disrupted as Prince Ning reveals the trap Wei has walked into...

Both Yu Pui Tsuen II and Sex And Zen were identical in their story beats (although the former featured a more somber tone) and it's probably safe to assume 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy merely replicates certain events recognizable from the novel and movies while instead forming its own story of quite depraved revenge, making it come off as a new version of A Chinese Torture Chamber Story in parts instead. This is good, even if director Suen is super-eager to please. What a 2011 production is able to do working with the genre and the Category III rating is to not forcefully echo Hong Kong cinema schizophrenia of the past though. A foot in both camps if you will.

Equally hilarious, disgusting and rather disturbing, the ideas are overflowing here in terms of what madness to pour onto the audience, 3D style or not. This means we get inclusions, within the very well costumed and colourful frame, like a blood sweating horse, penis fountains, flying chain sex and no elements seem forced (like The 33D Invader was partly guilty of) and the scenes of 3D are normally not disruptive. When used for comedic effect, it's a way more pleasurable inclusion but ultimately it's there for throw away moments where glass shards, blood, swords, bullets etc come at ya. This comes at the expensive of some rather poor computer generated violence and blood so Suen and company have not cracked the code of 3D.

3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy is so filled to the brim with comedy, sex, gorgeous women, Tony Ho relishing the chance to be evil beyond belief and it's fun to see a post millennium Hong Kong movie go for it in every department and mood. Director Suen doesn't make it affecting as a drama and morality tale but taking it in as emotionless spectacle only is more than fine, despite hefty content enough for two movies and almost 2 hours in length (this viewing is based on the director's cut of the movie though). 3D may not be here to stay for 'Sex And Zen' but I hope the genre continues to get a chance to matter in today's movie making climate that feels less Hong Kong and more Mainland China. 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy however is a party that naturally has its feet in the thriving decade of its particular cinema and in today's where it still made an impact.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson