China gets hot under the collar over world's first 3D porn film

 

Beijing

It certainly is not Avatar. Sumptuous costumes, golden keys opening doors to reveal orgies in imperial China and plenty of erotic action in lurid 3D – Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, the world's first major three-dimensional pornographic movie, is generating a lot of excitement in China.

The reworking of the 1991 cult film Sex And Zen is due to open in Hong Kong and Taiwan next week and there are already reports of tour groups planning trips from mainland China, where the film is banned. "It will leave audiences feeling like they are sitting right there at the edge of the bed," Stephen Shiu Jnr, who wrote and produced the £2m Cantonese-language film, told Chinese media.

Based on a classic Chinese erotic text, The Carnal Prayer Mat, the movie centres on a young man who gets a taste of courtly peccadilloes and features what Mr Chiu promises will be "some very graphic sex scenes".

The Chinese government has been engaged in a long-term crackdown on smut and movies with sexual content are generally banned. An exception was made for Ang Lee's erotic thriller Lust, Caution – once two violent sex scenes were cut from the movie. But the scenes were crucial to character development and many in the audience were baffled about what was going on in the film because of the excisions. This prompted a major exodus to Hong Kong to watch the movie, something Mr Shiu hopes to capitalise on.

Taiwanese newspapers report that at least five tour groups from mainland China have already made reservations to see the films during the May Day holiday. "I don't think anyone has ever seen a film like ours," Mr Shiu said.

In a collaboration with his father, Stephen Shiu Senior, Mr Shiu produced the original 1991 erotic film Sex and Zen – which made £1.6m at the box office and is still a soft-core legend in Hong Kong lore. That film has kicked off an entirely new series of Category III, or X-rated, movies.

It remains to be seen if viewers' 3D glasses steam up during Sex and Zen's racier moments, but the porn industry is desperate to make a comeback after being sidelined by free product on the internet, and 3D could be box-office Viagra for the genre.

Thousands of tickets for the movie have already been pre-sold in Hong Kong. The film features one Hong Kong and two Japanese adult-video stars and is directed by Christopher Sun. At the recent Filmart event in Hong Kong, where the Asian industry gathers to show off its wares, the Sex and Zen stand was constantly crowded and made sales all over the region and in Europe. The film-makers are also cutting numerous versions of the movie in the hope that it will be able to pass censors in different Asian markets.

They are trying to get past censors in Singapore by cutting sex scenes involving monks and practices such as sadomasochism and group sex, although the chances are slim of the movie making much headway in the island state, which is famed for its prudishness.

Still, the genre could be in for a boom. The Italian director Tinto Brass is also planning a 3D version of his classic 1979 erotic film Caligula, and there have been one or two low-budget 3D porn movies already released, including one called This Ain't Avatar XX.

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