Yet another drooping franchise reaches for 3D - in this case, the Hong Kong category III series Sex & Zen, whose period softcore delights have been getting the hand-shandy brigade off for the best part of two decades now. This application of cinematic Cialis has worked wonders in its native land, where it surpassed even Avatar's boffo box-office, aided by viewers sneaking over from mainland China to cop an eyeful; it now arrives on UK screens, more out of novelty than anything else, one suspects. Christopher Sun's film was at least conceived in 3D, if that's the right phrase to use here: the movie literally whips its cock out and sticks its tits in your face, and that may or may not be enough to sustain your interest for two hours.
Our young and tragically inexperienced hero is an impetuous art scholar who rushes into marriage with more or less the same lack of abandon as he does everything else. This, inevitably, leads to problems: not exactly the most well-blessed of individuals in the trouser department, his shortcomings are only compounded by a tendency to enjoy himself in the bedroom rather quicker than his beloved gets to. A solution (among other things) arises during his daily commutes to and from the Pavilion of Ultimate Bliss, with its free-standing phallic sculptures, troilism-friendly rocking horses, tattooed concubines named Dong Mei (no, really) and its unusual and varied array of surgical options. Which is to say: it gets agricultural.
Much of it proceeds on a level of purest pantomime, with gurning performers, slapdash plotting (I know, I know: no-one watches these things for the plot, but the demands of a - cough - trimmed international cut only renders it even easier to zone out or fast-forward between the bonking), and a bit where a dog runs off with our hero's penis, as the Dish once did with the Spoon. So genially silly is the first hour that I couldn't quite work out whether the attitude towards women (who exist here chiefly to be bought, sold and raped) was knowingly, parodically tacky; only in the second half, which slides into gore as sexual pleasure gives way to sexual jealousy, did events come to seem more dubious than they perhaps needed to be.
Given that the male characters sport such appellations as Horse Dick and Donkey Cock, it scarcely seems fair that the most memorable female role should be that of a man inhabiting a woman's body - hardly an original sight, given the fevered penetration elsewhere. Still, I can appreciate that the usual critical standards really don't apply in this instance, and will grant that its USP extends (just) beyond 3D. I can report that the film boasts an exceptionally high nipple count, and more pubic hair than would be permitted in Western softcore, and that no-one seems to be suffering unduly for that burden; you may prefer to sample it at home on DVD, where the 3D glasses would presumably shield the viewer from their own shame and filth, even as they might accentuate any squint one might develop from watching.
3D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy is on release in selected cinemas.