Sex and Zen
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Los Angeles Times
As a director, Mak must have a remarkable capacity for inspiring a trust in his actors that would permit them to appear in one uninhibited scene after another; to his credit, he never makes fools of them -- and he furthermore gets terrific performances from them in the most potentially embarrassing situations.
Hey, it's no masterpiece. It is what it is: soft-core eroticism. But on that basis, it succeeds, which is why I am giving it three stars. All criticism is subjective, all star ratings are relative, and if you have read this far you want to know if "Sex and Zen" is a superior example of its genre. It is. If there is the slightest doubt, stay around for the closing credits, which begin with gigantic block letters reading: "Recommended by Penthouse." The possibilities for additional recommendations in other kinds of movies are tantalizing.
San Francisco Chronicle
An unabashed soft- core sex marathon, much of it played for laughs, Sex and Zen could catch on as a voyeur's delight -- an Asian spin on the jiggle- and-hump comedies of sex-satirist Russ Meyer (''Beyond the Valley of the Dolls'').
There isn't a whole lot of Zen here, barring the opening and closing scenes with a priest, but there's plenty of lively sex, both conventional and otherwise, in this high-spirited porn romp from Hong Kong.
TV Guide Magazine
The film's spirit is one of unbridled bawdy slapstick, which misfires as often as it hits its targets, and its attitude towards women probably won't warm many hearts in the feminist community. In short, Penthouse readers will find what they're looking for in abundance wrapped in a typically bright, fast and furious Hong Kong package that is sometimes funny and occasionally even genuinely erotic.
The New York Times
For those who accept the absurd simulations as realistic, Sex and Zen will have soft-core pornographic appeal. For others, its appeal should be as a cheeky if predictable sendup of erotic obsession and its unhappy consequences.
Granted, the lavish set pieces are beautiful, and there really is quite a bit of amusingly acrobatic coupling going on, but in the end, it's extremely hard to fight down the giggles you'll find swelling inside you. It's all so relentlessly goofy, it makes you long for the early Eighties antics of Traci Lords, or The Dark Bros.
This medical miracle scene is by far the best in the film. Not because it is sexy or, perish the thought, Zen-like, but because it is pretty hilarious-a bizarre blend of the Marx Brothers, Three Stooges and Keystone Cops, with a little raunch dressing on the side. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is mostly a lot of grunting and groaning.
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