'3D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy' Makes the Cut for Singapore

A little less sex was just what the censor ordered for Singapore.

HONG KONG -- The makers of 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy are presenting Singapore with a heavily self-censored release with more than 18 minutes of the completed film cut, executive producer Stephen Shiu Jr. told The Hollywood Reporter. The film is repped by Shiu’s own One Dollar Distribution at Filmart.

Obliging the demand for the Singapore distributor to follow the strict censorship and conservative culture in there, executive producer Shiu and director Christopher Sun have sliced off scenes of group sex, oral sex, sadomasochism, and those linking religion and sex to assemble a tamer, 110-minute version for the audience aged 21 or above in the territory. 

“We have to trim the major parts of a scene of a female character seducing a monk,” said Shiu, adding “no physical contact is allowed between a woman and a person in a religious order.  We’re told that any portrayal of religion and portrayal of sex must be separate.” The same version will be released in India.  

Three minutes of footage depicting group sex has been left on the cutting floor for the South Korean edition.

The film has also captured the attention of the rest of the world.

The $3 million 3D erotica promises to push the boundaries of public decency and sensory stimulation with “edge of the bed” action in stereoscopic 3D. Rights have been sold to Singapore, India, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Peru, and Russia. The enthusiastic international demand serves as compensation for not having the lucrative Chinese market – the filmmakers had ruled out any possibility of bringing the film into China from the outset. 

The Hong Kong theatrical version of the period sex romp is set and approved for release on April 14 at 118 minutes, but a full 129-minute director’s cut has been made. The producers will decide whether to release it in Hong Kong cinemas depending on public demand and local censors, or on DVD; European distributors can choose between the two versions. Advance tickets to the film in Hong Kong went on sale in mid-March, with more than 5,000 tickets already sold in Hong Kong; Shui said he has received orders of up to 100,000 tickets from Chinese mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong during the film’s release.  

3D Sex and Zen is a reimagining of the 1991 Category III hit Sex and Zen, produced by Shiu’s father Stephen Shiu Sr., which broke records with more than HK$20 million ($2.6 million) at the box office and ushered in an era of Category III erotica in the 1990s. Shiu Sr. produced and wrote the script for the 3D update.

As executive producer, Shui Jr. described the film, in all its versions, as “bolder and more graphic than 9 1⁄2 Weeks, but not to the level of Caligula.” He also believed 3D is the perfect format for erotica: “From the first time I came to know this genre, I’ve hoped I could watch it in 3D.” 

The film was shot with RED digital 4K cameras and postproduction was done by Hong Kong’s Digital Magic, which was previously involved in Hong Kong’s first 3D horror film, Universe’s Child’s Eye 3D. The film is now pending approval from IMAX to release as IMAX 3D. Shiu said the company is concerned about the subject matter and genre, which has never been associated with IMAX before.

Originally touted as the world’s first stereoscopic 3D erotica at its announcement in January 2009, 3D Sex and Zen was beaten to the screen by South Korea’s Natali from director Joo Kyung-jung. That film was announced in June 2010, filmed from last May through September, and released last October. Shiu was unreserved in his fury for being pre-empted: “I think that is despicable behavior. The makers of Natali rushed their production to steal our thunder. But at the end, the audience voted with their feet. That film was a failure everywhere it was released.”