Although the period sex movie wasn't on its last legs in 1997 as the subsequent 1998 was a special year that gave us A Chinese Torture Chamber Story II and Chinese Erotic Ghost Story, with Emperor In Lust we're still scraping the nasty stuff from the bottom of the barrel as we now turn to genre poster boys Elvis Tsui and Charlie Cho in not so stunning, very standard definition VIDEO! Putting forth ideas that aren't lacking in terms of being valid, why in the name of all that is holy did the filmmakers (or videomakers) think they needed almost 2 hours of the Emperor's (Elvis Tsui) lust for lust and life accompanied by his chief eunuch (Charlie Cho) ?
That's essentially it. Life at the palace, despite the sex, is rather boring so the Emperor enters the outside, REAL world incognito to get a taste of what society is really like. Social order is a bit on the downslide, people are sick, dying and in need of help so the pair actually goes through with doing some wrongs right at the best of their abilities. That's not to say they're not clumsy, naive or even mean spirited as sexually especially, the pair in a baffling scene essentially assaults a woman in order to have sex with her. Black comedy borderlining the disturbing but also painfully bad and boring.
Here's your problem with Emperor In Lust. Nothing is particularly snappy, not even the first sex scene with Elvis Tsui that doesn't get a pass for being sexy either. It's just slow, dead and desolate. Like most of the film in a literal sense as well because outside the costume department are doing a competent job, there's terribly shot environments with a minimal amount of people involved around our leads and coupled with a very flat video look, Emperor In Lust further grates as it slowly build up to nothing.
Only saving grace, it gets a tiny bit shorter for each second that passes and when Charlie Cho's eunuch tries to spring into action, we at least get a look at the giddy, pervert the actor perfected all too well (in particular in a scene of Cho inspecting and tickling hookers). Here's your tiny piece of energy in a movie that would've been way more tolerable with 40 minutes cut. Scraping the bottom of the barrel didn't mean a pretentious stance of extending ill-advised and uneventful smut should've been present.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson