Customer Reviews: Read 9 more reviews...
Chinese Baroque Commedia del Arte January 8, 2004
2 out of 2 found this review helpful
Loosely based on the 17th Century erotic literary classic, *The Carnal Prayer Mat*, this film is at once an erotic, picaresque tale of adventure, and a Ch'an Buddhist morality play (of sorts).
Set in the late Yuan Dynasty (think: Kublai Khan), the film is a reasonably funny, and often very amusing farce, as well as a biting satire both of the manners and mores of a certain epoch in China. The film conjures up the cultural decadence at the tail-end of an age of great creative and imaginative vigor and growth...
The depths of degradation, despair and delusion are explored; ignorance, lust and aggression (the Three Poisons of classical Buddhist teaching) are present in abundance. Hallucinatory surreal scenes vie with ordinary profane reality; realism is set beside bizarre unorthodox fantasy in a mixture which recalls elements both of the Golden Ass and Don Juan, to use some (admittedly imprecise) Occidental points of reference.
In the end there is (an almost Christian) message of repentance (by the film's three principle rogues), forgiveness and redemption, but there is an equivocal sardonic irony in the message, as well.
A Chinese Picaresque Satire? January 4, 2004
2 out of 2 found this review helpful
One puzzle about this film is the title: i.e. whereas there is a great deal of sex enacted in multiple variations (sometimes quite extreme) in this film, it is hard to discern the least trace of Zen, or its Chinese precursor, Ch'an Buddhism. The only overt expressions of Buddhism are of the most formalistic, prechy moralizing variety; a pietistic, perhaps ritualistic, mannerist caricature of Buddhism, perhapss--or perhaps rather a caricature of Roman Catholicism, or of any other petrified, formalistic religion. One suspects the influence of Spanish picaresque literature,...
Great fun! December 31, 2003
2 out of 4 found this review helpful
If you are the kind of moviegoer who gets upset by the showing of breasts or have no sense of humor (especially the mature kind), you will not enjoy this movie. Otherwise, this movie is utterly entertaining. Lots of nice colors, beautiful women (especially Amy Yip and that Japanese actress), funny storyline, decent acting, all make this a classic that appeals to both mainstream and HK cult movie viewers. If there's a Chinatown near you you might want to get it there and save a few bucks.
What a thoroughly bizarre film. September 6, 2002
36 out of 41 found this review helpful
Going solely by a few reviews here, I bought this film with the assumption that it would be a steamy comedy. While there are some very steamy scenes indeed, the "comedy" is so low-brow as to not even raise a chuckle.
While a couple of the sex scenes are very good, there is one that is basically a violent rape of a battered woman, and another that is very close to rape (although the women of course end up enjoying the experience, naturally.) There is also a forced abortion, and a woman being forced into slavery, some things I wouldn't expect to find in a comedy at all.
There are a couple of Buddhist sentiments tossed in at the beginning and at the end, but by and large, this is just soft core porn - the story line makes little sense, and is just a cheap way to get from one sex scene to the next. I'd expect that in flat-out pornographic films, but in something trying to pass itself off as something else...well, I was disappointed.
Some of the colors, fabrics and textures are very lovely, but it's obviously a low-budget film. The actors and actresses are generally attractive, and if all you want is some soft-core porn to pass an hour or so, this might just be your movie.
Bear in mind that it's subtitled, although with the level of diaglogue that's present, you might just as well leave it off.
Overall, very disappointing.
More fun than you can shake a stick at (but you can try) April 2, 2002
10 out of 14 found this review helpful
To many Hong Kong/China cinethusiasts (your humble reviewer being one), the presence of Amy Yip makes virtually any DVD worth a spin. I'm happy to say that Ms. Yip's ample charms aren't the only things "Sex And Zen" have going for it; it's a funny and sexy romp. Imagine Hong Kong martial arts wirework applied to gymnastics of another kind, all under the guise of a spiritual quest, and you'll have some idea what goodies are in store. Don't come to this film expecting the height of cinematic art, it's just lightweight, erotic fun. Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.