- A well produced work of surreal erotica 5/3/2001 12:00:00 AM by spudgeek
I rented this sex comedy a couple of years ago and I was definitely not ready for the fantastic nature of its sex scenes. If you can imagine if the same techniques used for martial arts films applied to an erotic film, you might get a feeling of what this film is like. Sex and Zen is loosely based upon the 400-year old "The Carnal Prayer Mat" and is one of the best known of the Hong Kong Category III erotic films. The plot involves a scholar, played by Lawrence Ng, who believes that enlightenment can be achieved through a hedonistic lifestyle. For some reason, a wealthy man thinks that it is a good idea to arrange a marriage between the scholar and his sheltered, prudish daughter, played by Amy Yip. Yip was famous both for the size of her breasts and her refusal to perform fully nude; a body double is used in particular shots. After the scholar has introduced his new wife to the pleasures of sex, he is soon tempted by other men's wives. Unfortunately, his efforts to woo these women are hampered by both his poor staying power and his undersized genitals. In order to be a more effective seducer, the scholar agrees to undergo a rather extreme surgical procedure to enhance his abilities. Following the operation, the scholar undergoes a sexual odyssey while leaving his wife neglected at home.
This is a sex comedy and the humor can best be described as adolescent, although I must admit that I chuckled a few times. However, the film's raison d'etre is its lovemaking scenes. The sexual encounters in this film start out as "merely" vigorous and then escalate to the physically impossible and then to the gleefully excessive. What "The Blues Brothers" did for car crashes, this film does for sex scenes. There are several distinctions between this kind of filmmaking and Western erotic films. First of all, the women in Sex and Zen are stunningly, naturally attractive and don't have any silicone implants to detract from their beauty. Moreover, the film has significant production value. Whereas murky photography is used in sex scenes in most American films, here vivid colors are used in the art direction, costuming, and cinematography. As a result, the film has a surreal, fantastic sort of atmosphere. Sex and Zen also deviates from vanilla sexuality and includes elements of sadomasochism, lesbianism, and bondage, although all of this is carried out in a playful, nonrealistic manner. Also, like most erotic films, this is geared mostly towards heterosexual males but there is a bit of male nudity and simulated male genitalia for any women or gay males who might be interested.
Finally, a couple of caveats. An "R" rated version of this film can be found at many Blockbuster stores. Although this was enough to impress me on the first viewing, the editing was clumsy and the unrated film has much juicier comedic and erotic bits (such as misplaced genitals, an unorthodox way for two women to use a flute, an interesting bit of toe-sucking, etc.) The unrated VHS and DVD versions give you the full effect of the film. Also, there is a scene in which a man rapes his wife that is performed in the same surreal erotic manner as the rest of the film. Although this initially seems unenlightened, given the overall comic fantasy tone of the film, it's hard to be too offended. Overall, this is a well made piece of erotica recommended for those looking for something different.
- A true classic 3/28/2003 12:00:00 AM by mindless_junk
"Sex and Zen" is trully a gem. It combines beautifully good looking women with gorgeous bodies, humor, plot, and ending with a moral. I think it inspired after copycat movies to follow, but then none that came after it could achieve the climax "Sex and Zen" had achieved.
Without giving too much away, watching "S&Z" is like watching a Hong Kong swordsplay movie but this is on the topic of sex. A trully unique experience that can only come out of Hong Kong movies.
A 8/10 on my book.
- An Erotic Adventure 6/17/2008 12:00:00 AM by crossbow0106
This is a Category Three film from Hong Kong, and it is explicit in its nudity, carnal desires and all around perversion. What sets it apart from similar films is the production values. The cinematography is very good, the movie is vividly colorful. The film has a general good rhythm to it. It is unabashedly erotic, both with the male and female characters. At the time, this film had to be a revelation, but it still holds up today as a sexually charged drama/comedy. The rating I gave can be anything, meaning it all depends on what you're looking for in this genre. Suffice to say, everyone looks great (especially the beautiful Amy Yip) and the film was a deserved success when it was released. If you're adventurous, check it out.
- The title says it all 7/17/2002 12:00:00 AM by InzyWimzy
Keep in mind: this isn't some second rate snuff film. Sex and Zen has a story, has good acting, great costumes and setting. And also, sex.
The scholar in the film tries to fulfill his sexual appetites. Lucky guy, right? However, as the story progresses, I kind of felt sympathy for him. There is humor in this one which keeps the film lively. I winced during the operation scene with a funny cameo by Kent Cheng. The thief who helps the scholar adds some comedy as well.
Amy Yip really stands in this one. She is unbelievably sexy and her character is played nicely. The other beautiful ladies Isabella Chow and Carrie Ng also light up the screen. The sex scenes aren't too explicit, but there are some parts where you'd watch in disbelief. The whole scene in the end, S&M, "musical appreciation"...original concepts you'd probably only find in Hong Kong cinema.
Overall, the film doesn't take itself too seriously. It's erotic, funny, and there's a moral to be learned! Watch it for my hon Amy!!
- Category III Cinema: Sex and Zen. 8/27/2005 12:00:00 AM by Captain_Couth
Sex and Zen (1992) is one of the most popular of the category III genre films. This film has reached a far more mainstream audience world wide. It has appeared in art house theaters and video stores. To give you an idea about this movie I am going to pose a question for you. What does Amy Yip, a man who loves the ladies and a horse have in common. Alone, nothing at all but watch the movie and you'll have a good idea. Bizarre erotic fun from Hong Kong (courtesy of Category III). In Cantonese with English sub-titles.
Stars Amy Yip, Lawrence Ng, Carrie Ng and Kent Cheung. A strange period piece that'll have you wanting more. Don't fret, they made a few more sequels that were even more sexually charged than the first film. For shame the Chinese government put an end to this films. They saved the film making industry (for awhile).