[3D SEX AND ZEN: EXTREME ECSTASY opens in Cleveland on Friday September 23rd exclusively at the Capitol Theatre.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
Don't you just hate it when a film series misses the opportunity to make its 3D entry the third one? 3D SEX AND ZEN: EXTREME ECSTASY is the fourth installment in the popular SEX AND ZEN series of erotic action/comedies from Hong Kong. In true exploitation movie ballyhoo fashion, it is being promoted as “the first 3D erotic movie,” although 1969's smash hit THE STEWARDESSES (seriously, look it up) might beg to differ. But all's fair when it comes to promoting exploitation movies, so I won't quibble.
The plot of the film is pretty ridiculous stuff - Wei Yangsheng (Hayama Go) is a scholar who believes it better to experience pleasure as much and as soon as possible, ignoring his teacher's lessons to the contrary. Yangsheng's philosophy leads him down a path of hedonistic self indulgence. Despite being neither very well endowed nor having much in the way of stamina, Yangsheng winds up enjoying the company of several lovely women, along the way trading his sexual organ for one belonging to a donkey and learning sexual secrets from the transsexual “Elder of Bliss”.
Despite all the carnal goings-on, the movie tries to tell its audience, with a more or less straight face, that sex isn't important and true love conquers all. This is first stated by an elderly couple just as Yangsheng is about to be married to Tie Yuxiang (Leni Lan). The problem is, the movie never even comes close to selling us on the idea that Yangsheng loves anyone but himself, nor does it make a convincing case that Yuxiang would love him.
For about the first two thirds of its running time, 3D SEX AND ZEN: EXTREME ECSTASY is mostly harmless, silly softcore fun. Lots of attractive people get naked and pretend to have sex, and the marginal plot holds things together enough to hold your interest even when there isn't any sex. As for the 3D, it is done well; and yes, you do get to see a giant schlong poke right out of the screen at you. Even early on, though, one starts to detect a mean spirited and genuinely misogynistic undertone to the proceedings. I might have let that slide since the whole thing is so over the top it's impossible to take much of it seriously, but the last act just goes off the rails into some really sadistic territory.
Everyone has something that pushes their buttons, and what bothers me about this film may not bother others. I'm not here to get all moralistic, especially considering some of the questionable films I enjoy. That said, I think it's only fair to mention that the plot involves some rapes that get treated rather casually, genital abuse directed at both males and females (not to mention other species), and some surprising amputations and violent mayhem near the end, all of which serve to seriously undermine the sense of lighthearted ribald fun the movie seems to be going for. On top of that, the movie runs about two hours, which is just too long to drag out nonsense of this kind. I did have some fun with parts of 3D SEX AND ZEN: EXTREME ECSTASY, but by the end it had become tedious and unpleasant. 2 out of 4 stars.