Hong Kong’s top 10 sexy movies
Controversial on its release in 1972 due to its lesbian and exploitation themes, director Chor Yuen’s rape-revenge epic – mixing wuxia swordplay with moments of period erotica – still arrests the senses with the sheer intensity of its tale, which sees a defiant beauty (Lily Ho) exacting vicious retribution on her tormentors years after being abducted into a high-class brothel. The erotic moments might seem a little tame by later standards but they were particularly daring back in the day.
Written and directed by acclaimed director Li Han-hsiang, produced by Sir Run Run Shaw and the film debut for one Jackie Chan, The Golden Lotus surely has one of the strongest lineups of all-time for any sex film. This seductive tale focuses on the licentious sex life of a merchant and references The Plum in the Golden Vase, a classic piece of erotic literature from the Ming Dynasty. This is a truly timeless piece of antique cinema that’s as much about action and storyline as it is naughty bits.
A Hong Kong take on Hollywood’s The Witches of Eastwick spliced together with a classic Chinese fairy tale may sound a bizarre concept, but this film was a breakthrough for leading actress Amy Yip, who would go on to star in a number of local classics like Sex and Zen, To Be Number One and She Shoots Straight. Yip’s assets certainly carry the light-hearted erotic fantasy but the film isn’t all smut. It could be said to have quite a feminist sensibility, acknowledging women’s intelligence and agency as well as their sexuality.
Completely unlike the romantic comedy starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, Hong Kong’s Pretty Woman is dark. Directed by Yeung Chi-gin, the storyline is pretty grim (rape, murder and general violence – is it a surprise Yeung would later direct a movie based on the Hello Kitty murder?), but Veronica Yip’s performance as the female lead captivated many. The movie boosted her popularity, and her rise to fame paved ways for other mainstream actresses to dabble with the soft-porn market, most notably award-winning actress Shu Qi.
Veronica Yip (her again) plays a married woman who hires a gigolo (played by Simon Yam) to get her pregnant, so her impotent husband can receive his family’s money. The plot transgresses into jealously, lust and murder in this fairly soft-core film, but the sex scenes are perfectly executed and the duo beautifully captured. Yam has starred in other gigolo roles – Gigolo and Whore, Friday Gigolo, Hong Kong Gigolo, take your pick – but this is probably his best.
Chingmy Yau stars as the deadly assassin in this delirious cult classic. While being investigated by an infatuated cop (Simon Yam, again), she falls in love with a fellow female killer, who targets rapists and psychos. The film’s combination of kick-ass action and lesbian entanglement attracted a significant following and resulted in Yau being nominated for Best Actress at the 1993 Hong Kong Film Awards.
Directed by Roman Cheung, this film is less about any sort of plot and more a chance to see Loletta Lee’s energetic and erotic performance in various states of undress. The story centres on a girl in search of different sexual partners as she looks to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend. In contrast to the coarse production, it’s Lee’s angelic face, heartwarming smile and frequent shower scenes that explain why people are mad about Crazy Love.
This sex-comedy, directed by Derek Yee and headed by stars Leslie Cheung and Karen Mok, is a satirical portrayal of the struggles of Category III filmmakers, and the plight of the Hong Kong movie industry in general. Taiwanese sex symbol Shu Qi rose to fame on the back of this film, winning Best Supporting Actress and Best New Performer at the 16th Hong Kong Film Awards, while the movie itself received a Best Picture nomination.
This somewhat dubious classic focuses on the relationships that blossom at a local brothel. Yvonne Yung, Hong Kong’s Miss World 1989 entry, plays the whorehouse Madame in this erotic masterpiece. Although there are questionable scenes of torture (involving eels), amid all the sex and awe, there are touching moments, while the smut and generally lighthearted side of Ancient Chinese Whorehouse was characteristic of many Category III films of this ilk.
Claiming to be the world’s first 3D erotic film (actually, that honour belongs to The Stewardesses in 1969), the film is the most recent sequel to 1991’s Sex and Zen, adapted from The Carnal Prayer Mat, a Chinese erotic novel about a Ming Dynasty scholar’s lust and sexual exploits. Although the film was banned in mainland China, it raked in more than $40m at the local box office – the highest total ever for its genre.