Porn Breaking Box Office Records in Hong Kong

Hong Kong cinema has a vaunted past. Bruce Lee started out in kung-fu movies, as did Jackie Chan. Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs inspired Leonardo Di Caprio’s The Departed. On the academic side, Wong Kar-wai films, especially Chungking Express, are often used to discern Hongkongers’ feelings towards the handover, though all the Hongkongers I know dislike his movies for the dizzying cinematography.

Though Hong Kong has actively cultivated its film aficionado fan base, even establishing the well-regarded Hong Kong Film Festival, and has eagerly promoted itself as Bruce Lee’s home (though the construction of his official museum has stalled), Hong Kong is now also known for a far more crass genre: 3-D porn.

How did Hong Kong cinema move from Kung Fu Hustle to the cutting edge of adult film? Easy. A burgeoning market outside Asia and a demanding market within. The hypersexualization of Asian women is a common trope throughout Western society, and everyone’s heard of “yellow fever,” which isn’t just a disease carried by mosquitoes anymore.

Aside from that, China’s strict censorship of X-rated material means Chinese citizens come to Hong Kong to find novel experiences, especially in regard to luxury items and really outrageous adult material. Films like 3-D Sex and Zen (the first 3-D porno) and Category III (NC-17) 3-D film The 33D Invader are some of the pioneers.

Hongkongers are generally interested in on capitalizing on trends: this is one that’s gotten a lot of media hype and has generated quite a bit of revenue. 3-D Sex and Zen broke box office records. This doesn’t mean the movies have any plot, by any means. Actually, 3-D Sex and Zen is based on a 1991 classic Hong Kong porno, while The 33D Invader is a direct rip-off The Terminator – as quoted from movie promotion documents, “A woman from 2046 arrives in Hong Kong 2011 to try to find the perfect seed.” Seriously.

Though kung-fu movies and indie films are still incredibly popular and will continue to be, maybe the cinematic fortunes of Hong Kong have shifted to reflect a more cynical society. Rather than kung-fu masters teaching their proteges high kicks or romantic glimpses of Chungking Mansions, awkward donkey penises and over-hyped “leng mo” (psuedo-models) may soon dominate HK’s film industry.

Ashley Lee I'm a recent grad (Wellesley '11!) trying to break into the art world. When I'm not reading, writing, or tweeting about the contemporary art world, I like shoes, soccer, and Star Wars. Like Liz Lemon, I list things in threes.

View all posts by Ashley Lee

Leave a Reply