Softcore porn is usually a pretty straight up equation: get girls, get them to get it on, and then tie it all together with a vaguely coherent story. The rules are pretty obvious. That's why you never see people fucking animals, slapstick castrations, dudes "accidentally" getting busy with other dudes, or other serious boner-kills. If you're from the West and that's the sort of shit you're looking for, there are special sections of the internet dedicated to siphoning you off from people who like stuff a little more vanilla. For some reason, the back-alley bootleggers of Hong Kong and China don't see it that way.
Notoriously heavy-handed with their censorship laws, China's response to internet contraband took a page from its ancestry: they built a massive firewall to keep all kinds of kink outside their borders. But for decades, China's black marketeers have been smuggling in porn the old fashion way, in the form of bootleg, Category III Hong Kong sexploitation flicks. Category III doesn't mean anything specific to the Chinese other than "sex and/or violence". It's like they were going to make an R-rating and an X-rating, but got lazy and figured one was good enough to cover all the shit out there that's "unsuitable for children". This means that movies like Ang Lee's histrionic epic Lust, Caution and Johnnie To's critically acclaimed Election get put on the same shelf in Hong Kong as shit like A Chinese Torture Chamber Story and Raped by an Angel 4: The Rapist's Union.
As epic dramas with just a touch too much blood or naked grinding get slung in with the comedy torture-porn, the surreal fuck-fests are given bigger budgets and wider distribution that we'd ever imagine here in the West. They're still technically "illegal", but if you go to any major city in China you're more than likely going to find entire bazaars littered with boutiques selling bootlegs in open sight.
Here are some of our favourites (and everything here is NOT SAFE FOR WORK, in case there were any small brains out there who hadn't figured that already).
This scene probably looks familiar. It's a rip-off of that sped-up fucking scene in Funeral Procession of Roses. The same scene that Kubrick admittedly ripped off in A Clockwork Orange.
Starring Leslie Cheung, Viva Erotica was actually nominated for Best Picture and Best Director (along with a dozen other categories) at the Hong Kong Film Awards back in `97. The film is basically like a mashup of 8 1/2 and Boogie Nights but with more sex and less Mark Wahlberg. It's one of the more tame examples of Cat-III erotica, but the fact they got Leslie Cheung and a young Shu Qi – both highly acclaimed actors in HK – gives you a good idea of the different standards these films are held to in the region. Hell, even Jackie Chan was up for smut in the 70s.
SEX AND ZEN
I'm becoming sadly desensitized to this movie the more times I watch it. Who would've thought you could get bored of watching a guy catch a severed horse dick in his mouth, chicks scribbling calligraphy with their snatch, or the occasional theatrical horse rape? Sex and Zen isn't very Zen at all, to be honest, but at least they don't make a joke of having your tool amputated and then eaten by a dog (oh wait, they do).
THE FORBIDDEN LEGEND: SEX AND CHOPSTICKS
This was the first Cat-III film I stumbled upon in Chinatown last summer, so it definitely deserves mention. When I asked the guy at the store what it was, he shrugged and said he didn't know in a way that told me he definitely did. It turns out it's based on a famous 17th century erotic Chinese novel called The Plum in the Gold Vase, which makes this porno the closest I've come to reading literature in the last five years. The story details the life of a master of the Taoist erotic arts, who essentially goes around China sinking the pink of whoever he wants because that's what he's famous for.
A CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBER STORY
Despite its cheerful title, this movie isn't quite as funny as Sex and Zen or Sex and Chopsticks. It's not that I don't get a kick out of exploding penises, nympho-nannies getting passed over by rapists, or ejaculatory eruptions of blood – the latter of which was shot with a surprising artfulness, now that I think about it. I'm just still trying to work out how ghost-on-man mouth rape got past the brainstorming phase of production. Despite all that, A Chinese Torture Chamber Story is by far the most infamous Cat-III period piece, and if you don't get off on people being stabbed under their fingernails then at least you can take comfort in the fact that you're not the only person who likes to think their dick makes sounds like a laser gun.