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The Film
Sex & Zen II

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
89 mins

Genre(s)
Erotic
Category III

Director(s)
Cash Chin

Stars
Shu Qi
Loletta Lee
Elvis Tsui
Ben Ng

DVD Distributor
Mei Ah

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
All

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Cantonese DD 5.1, DD 2.0
Mandarin DD 5.1, DD 2.0


Subtitles
Chinese, English

Screen Format
Anamorphic Widescreen

Special Info
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Sex & Zen II


Film & DVD Review

The Film
Kin is worried that his daughter will be screwed by other men as a result of his own misconduct. He forces Yau to wear "Virginity Armour" to protect her from being screwed. During school ays, Yau is discovered to be a girl by Fa Dou and he intends to rape her but is hurt by her armour. Kin rapes his daughter-in-law Siu Tsui. Since then, murdering cases happen one after another in Kin's house.

Sex & Zen II is possibly one of the most famous installments in the Sex & Zen series, because of its two main stars, Loletta Lee and Shu Qi. However, in my opinion the film is only riding on its stars name's, not on the quality of the film.

The plot for this installment is rather thin at best. First off I should possibly point out that in this film EVER man is portrayed as being completely sex mad and horny all the time. Ok, now on to the plot. Kin's daughter, Yau, wants to go to school and be educated, rather than being an uneducated girl who will have to do everything men tell her to do. Kin, however, does not want his daughter to be taken advantage of, so he makes her wear "Virginity Armour" in order to protect her chastity while she is studying at school. One day her friend in school Fa Dou discovers that she is really a female, not a male as all her classmates had previously thought, and through a course of events he ends up being seriously injured down below by the Virginity Armour. He is then taken to a doctor that gives him a mechanical penis. While recovering from the operation a woman known as Mirage Lady visits the doctor and has her face changed, as she is being hunted by police officials. Mirage Lady has the abilility to suck someone's life energy out of them, thus increasing her own energy, when having sex with the person.

Once Yau arrives back home she finds her brother is getting married to a girl in a forced marriage, but no sooner have they got married and Kin's wives start turning up dead, apparently after having sex. The evidence suggests that Mirage Lady has entered the household, and is out to suck everyone's energy from them.

The plot for Sex & Zen II is rubbish to say the least, and it just seems to be some sort of loose story designed to lead from one sex scene to the next, or to give another opportunity to show Loletta Lee or Shu Qi without any clothes on. While this isn't a bad thing, I'm pretty sure they could have thought up something to make it a bit better between these scenes! Parts 1 and 3 manage it, combining humour into the mix much more effectively than part 2. Sex & Zen II also appears to take itself more seriously than the other ones, as while there is humour, there is less of it, and the general tone of the film is also much gloomier. This is not a good thing. Where they are just trying to set up sex scene after sex scene, and where the finale is two women having sex together, and the first one to climax loses, you HAVE to look at yourself and laugh, which is something this film does not do.

The acting in the film isn't that great, as you may expect there isn't too much in the way of character development, and a lot of the film is quite predictable. As silly as this may be to say, the sex choreography isn't anywhere near as complex as in the first installment. The first film really had some sexrobatics in places, which made it quite fun to watch, part 2, however, does not. In fact there is very little to recommend part 2 on.

Audio & Subtitles
There are several audio options on this DVD: both Cantonese and Mandarin on DD5.1 and DD2.0. I listened to the Cantonese DD5.1 option, with english subtitles. First off, while it did say it was DD5.1, it defintely seemed more like 1.1 to me. The subwoofer was used where necessary, no complaints there, but virtually all the other sounds from the film originated from the front centre speaker. There may have been a few ambient effects which used the other speakers, like wind blowing or lightining crashing, but if they did use the other speakers, I didn't really notice. So maybe 5.1 is a bit of false advertising! Anyway, the sounds themselves were clear and crisp, no real complaints there. There were a few instances where a beep sort of noise was heard while one of the characters was speaking on screen. I can only guess this was some sort of censorship or something, but as I don't speak Cantonese, I've no idea.

The subtitles were only ok. They were nice and bold with a black outline for the letters so they were readable at all times, but there were many spelling mistakes throughout. In a couple of cases they typed an "O" instead of a "P", and a "C" instead of an "O". These are very bad mistakes to make, as they could have been easily rectified. There were also a couple of lines of unsubtitled dialogue. While these lines I very much doubt were vital to the story, it would still have been better if they had been subtitled. However, the grammar was ok, and was easy to follow.

Quality
For the picture, there was quite a big surprise. When this title was announced on Mei Ah's release schedule, they indicated that it was going to be a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen release! This surprised quite a lot of people, as most didn't think a title like this would get that special treatment. Anamorphic titles are still significantly in the minority in Hong Kong, although more new release titles are now also getting the 16x9 treatment. But yes, this is indeed an anamorphic widescreen title. This does not mean that the picture is going to be superb though, as it is not. There is still a reasonable amount of grain, and flickering on screen. There is not that extra bit of sharpness and clarity which you expect with anamorphic pictures. Really there is not much different about the print here compared to what you would expect if you just zoomed a letterboxed print to fill the widescreen TV. So overall, while the anamorphic widescreen is nice, the quality could still have been so much better.

DVD & Extras
Fortunately in recent times, the name Mei Ah attached to a DVD no longer makes me quiver with fear concerning their releases. From being about the worst distributor in Hong Kong not too long ago I have to say they are possibly now among the best. I think we have their merger with China Star to thank for that. So gone are the crap static menues that we used to get, if we were lucky enough to get a menu at all! On this DVD there is a very nice animated menu which shows in a little screen snippets from the film. Alas, there is little in the way of extras to make best use of these menues. There is a simple film synopsis, and a list of the main cast and crew. That's it. Hardly inspiring.

Overall
Sex & Zen II is, in my opinion, the weakest of the Sex & Zen trilogy. Nothing about this film is on par with the other two. After it being impossible to get on DVD, save the UK release but it was cut by over 3 minutes, I was looking forward to this film, hoping that it would have the same sense of humour as particularly the first installment. Alas it didn't. I'm not a big Shu Qi or Loletta Lee fan either, so there really was nothing else in this film which interested me. Still, if you are a fan of either of those two, this is definitely the best version of the film which is available.

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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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