The reputation of 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy far precedes the movie itself. Hell, its reputation is also way more stimulating than the actual movie. The film broke all sorts of sales records upon its release in Hong Kong — not because it's good or anything like that, but because it's soft-core porn with the promise of boobs virtually bouncing in your lap with the help of state-of-the-art 3-D.
And as far as that goes, Extreme Ecstasy delivers. But there's nothing here you won't see on late-night cable, and so internet porn connoisseurs will undoubtedly be disappointed. Unless, of course, the 3-D — better than Clash of the Titans' but nothing like Avatar's — is enough to keep them hanging on for two hours. Because the story sure won't. But let's face it: Who's going to bother seeing 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy for the story line?
Let's get the narrative (what there is of it) out of the way: Self-important scholar Wei Yangsheng (Hiro Hayama) falls in love with spoiled princess Tie Yuxiang (Leni Lan) at first sight. They marry, but he's a disappointment in the bedroom, blowing his load within seconds. Plus, he has a really small dick. So he retreats to the temple of an evil prince (Tony Ho), who — along with his harem of eager-to-please girls — helps make a man of Wei.
Like most late-night soft-core cable flicks, Extreme Ecstasy is built around ultimate male fantasies. After Wei surgically swaps his tiny penis with a donkey's, he tests it out by having sex with 10 women at the same time. And there's a revenge plot that turns Tie into a chained, helpless victim. There's also catfight entertainment, girl-on-girl lovin', over-the-top action scenes, and blood (and more) leaping off the screen.
Extreme Ecstasy is a remake of sorts of a 1991 movie, and both are based on a 17th-century Chinese fable called The Carnal Prayer Mat (though it's hard to say whether a giant turbo-powered penis slapping bystanders across the face in slow motion effectively honors the original writer's intent). There's a playful enough spirit to some of it (first-time director Christopher Sun Lap Key has a great time with flying daggers and squirting blood), but midway through, the movie turns brutal, with extended rape sequences and bloody severed limbs all over the place.
Still, somehow, through all the sex and violence, Extreme Ecstasy maintains a sense of humor — especially in its hammy acting. But instead of bringing a genuine comic element to the proceedings, the movie just tosses in another cinematic genre to join the half-dozen or so other genres already fighting for space. Even so, take away the 3-D and sex, and all you've got left is a little bit of zen. And not much of a movie.