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Sex and Zen
Sex & Zen poster.jpg
Traditional 玉蒲團之偷情寶鑑
Simplified 玉蒲团之偷情宝鑑
Mandarin Ròupútuán zhī tōuqíng bǎojiàn
Cantonese Juk6 Pou4 Tyun4 Zi1 Tau1 Cing4 Bou2 Gaam3
Directed by Michael Mak
Produced by Stephen Shiu
Screenplay by Lee Ying Kit
Story by Li Yu
Starring Lawrence Ng
Kent Cheng
Amy Yip
Carrie Ng
Music by Joseph Chan
Cinematography Peter Ngor
Edited by Poon Hung
Distributed by Golden Harvest
Release dates
  • 30 November 1991 (1991-11-30)
Running time
99 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office HK$18,424,224

Sex and Zen (Chinese: 玉蒲團之偷情寶鑑, "The Carnal Prayer Mat's Stash of Illicit Love") is a 1991 Hong Kong erotic comedy film directed by Michael Mak and starring Lawrence Ng and Amy Yip. The film is loosely based on The Carnal Prayer Mat, a Chinese erotic novel by 17th century author and playwright Li Yu.


The story is about a lustful scholar (played by Lawrence Ng) who dares to challenge the moral teachings of the Sack Monk. The monk attempts to lecture the scholar that spiritual enlightenment transcends the passions of the flesh but the scholar, who enjoys women, doesn't agree. However, the most powerful man in the town marries his daughter, played by Amy Yip, to the scholar. The daughter is a virgin and has been taught that sex is dirty.

The scholar, after a disastrous yet humorous wedding night, soon initiates his bride into the pleasures of sex, aided greatly by the illustrations of a copy of a sex manual. The amorous husband goes about his 'scholastic travels' where he meets the greatest thief known to man. The thief is able to sneak into people's houses undetected, and the scholar wants to learn this skill so that he can sleep with other men's wives. The thief was initially willing to help him, until he catches the scholar one day and discovers that the scholar is not very well-endowed.

The thief tells the scholar that stealing other men's wives requires good lovemaking skills and equipment. The thief promises to help the scholar only if he has a horse's penis. Of course, the thief didn't think it was possible, until the scholar returned one day, indeed, with a horse's penis attached as his own. Apparently, the scholar met a doctor who was able to replace anatomical parts (a scene with a cameo by Hong Kong comedian Kent Cheng).

The doctor managed to transplant a horse's penis to replace the scholar's meager one. Armed with his new 20-inch penis, the scholar goes on a sexual rampage, not caring if he is seducing other men's wives or is nearly caught in the process. Meanwhile, the scholar's wife, after experiencing the joys of sex, becomes sexually frustrated. She tried masturbating with paintbrushes but is left unsatisfied until she has an affair with the gardener, the husband of one of the wives the scholar seduced. She becomes pregnant and runs away with the man, who out of revenge sells her to a brothel, the madam assaults her leading to a miscarriage, originally unwilling she is coerced into becoming a prostitute and comes to enjoy her new life.

The scholar has become frail and sick due to too much sex (involving two sisters-in-law who are bisexual and into S&M). He goes to the brothel for treatment, where he is offered the top courtesan. At first, husband and wife cannot recognize each other; she looked at his penis and thought it couldn't be her husband's because his was small; he couldn't recognize her because his eyesight was failing. While they were having sex, he takes a close look at her figure and nipple and recognizes her. To her dismay, he screams, shouts and calls her a disgrace. To his dismay, she runs off and hangs herself. The man, completely broken, goes back to the monk to ask for forgiveness.

Box office[edit]

In Hong Kong, the film grossed $18,424,224 HKD.[1] This was enormous business considering the film was saddled with the restrictive Category III rating (the Hong Kong equivalent of NC-17 in the USA).


Sex and Zen went on to spin off two sequels, Sex and Zen II and Sex and Zen III. These are not sequels in plot, as each movie illustrates a different story also based on the sex manual.

The movies were also budding platforms for former Category III actresses such as Shu Qi who has since made it as an A-list Hong Kong movie star. However, even the stigma of having been a sex symbol actor cannot be completely erased. Lawrence Ng once mentioned in an interview that he was embarrassed for having made the film and wishes that he instead be known for his serious character roles in modern and period drama TV series.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sex and Zen (1991)". Hong Kong Movie Database. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_and_Zen — Please support Wikipedia.
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2201 news items

Wall Street Journal (blog)
Fri, 19 Aug 2011 06:39:17 -0700

Americans, Get Ready for 'Sex & Zen': “3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy,” the erotic movie billed as the first 3-D one in the world, opens in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver this weekend. “Sex and Zen” broke box-office records when it ...
Hollywood Reporter
Sun, 12 Jun 2011 13:35:35 -0700

Beating Italian soft-core pornographer Tinto Brass's 3D remake of Caligulatothe screen by several months, if not years, this reboot of the Michael Mak erotic cult classic, Sex and Zen as Extreme Ecstasy, comes with a curiosity factor that will take it ...
New York Times
Sun, 21 Aug 2011 15:15:21 -0700

The Cantonese historical fantasy “3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” was banned in mainland China but is now rolling out in cities across the United States and Canada. The Chinese government has committed either an astute piece of film criticism, ...
Thu, 01 Sep 2011 23:40:17 -0700

I must admit from the outset the subject matter of 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy (2011) would not be my usual choice. However, this new exercise in erotica from veteran screen writer and producer Stephen Siu, his son Stephen Siu Jr., and director ...
Film Journal
Mon, 22 Aug 2011 13:03:45 -0700

Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy is an elaborate costume drama with loads of sex and a plot knottier than a fallen ball of yarn. Most definitely, the easily offended better head for the hills, although the film is more soft-core phony than graphic X ...
NBC 10 Philadelphia (blog)
Fri, 02 Mar 2012 11:18:45 -0800

Once erotic cinema broke the third dimension, a less imaginative person migh''ve feared there was nowhere else for the genre to go. Ha! "3D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy" proudly billed itself as the first 3D erotic film, helping the movie achieve a Hong ...
Wall Street Journal (blog)
Tue, 12 Apr 2011 23:29:27 -0700

The highly anticipated “3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” had its world premiere in Hong Kong on Tuesday night, giving moviegoers their first peek at what the movie's producer describes as the world's first 3-D erotic film. Producer Stephen Shiu Jr ...
NPR (blog)
Fri, 12 Aug 2011 07:11:25 -0700

Reviving a 1990s Hong Kong softcore-porn/action-comedy series, 3-D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy adds comin'-at-ya visuals to a campy tale of an erotic quest. Anyone with a dirty mind — and you can hardly imagine the movie without one — will anticipate ...

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