Singapore gets 18 mins less "Sex"

29 Mar - "3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy" executive producer Stephen Shiu Jr. said Singapore's intended 28 April release is a heavily self-censored version with more than 18 minutes of the completed film cut, according to The Hollywood Reporter at Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART) earlier last week.

The same source reported that in a move to oblige the demand by Singaporean distributor Golden Village Pictures so as to follow the strict censorship and conservative culture of the island nation, executive producer Shiu and director Christopher Sun Lap Key have omitted 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." In a gimmicky launch gambit at the same event in Hong Kong, the cast and filmmakers took turns planting paper flags on a cardboard map depicting the territories in which the period sex romp has secured distribution.

Rights to the 3D erotica has reportedly been sold to Singapore, India, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Peru and Russia, with China notably not on the list as the producers have ruled out the possibility of wide release in the strict republic.

Already there are reports that quick-witted Chinese tour agents are organising packages for screenings in Taiwan, just for Mainlanders to catch the show in cinemas.

According to Hollywood Reporter, the Hong Kong theatrical version 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.

Said to be loosely based on Li Yu's 17th century classical Chinese erotic literature "The Carnal Prayer Mat", this 3D re-update of the record-breaking 1991 Hong Kong box office cult classic erotica stars Japanese AV actresses Yukiko Suo and Saori Hara opposite Hong Kong-based Japanese male model Hiro Hayama.

Other cast include Vonnie Lui Hoi Yan, Tony Ho Wah Chiu, Leni Lan Yan, Irene Chen Chiu Ping, Jason Yiu and Tenky Tin.

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 in IMAX 3D. Shiu was quoted as saying 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 Korean director Joo Kyung-jung's "Natali".

That film was announced in June 2010, filmed from last May through September, and released last October in some territories. It secured a very limited R21 theatrical release for 24 March in Singapore under distributor Cathay-Keris Films.

Shiu was quoted as saying: "I think that is despicable behavior. The Korean filmmakers 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."

No Malaysian theatrical release is known for both "Natali 3D" and "3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy".

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