Opening as a reasonably amusing “American Pie”-like account of a randy Hong Kong teenager’s sexual awakening, “Due West: Our Sex Journey 3D” gradually becomes flaccid as its protag enters adulthood and seeks fulfillment in bawdy houses on the mainland. A parade of buxom beauties in birthday suits guarantees robust domestic and regional B.O. for this China Digital Entertainment production, but pedestrian scripting and direction make it unlikely to outperform the company’s 2011 hit, “3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy.” Pic opened Sept. 20 in H.K., Australia and New Zealand. North American release details are pending.
Like “Sex and Zen,” “Due West” can expect to attract auds from mainland China, where, owing to censorship issues, the film is not skedded for release. In a novel marketing approach recalling bygone days of gender-segregated, exploitation-movie tent shows, some Hong Kong cinemas will be offering “women only” screenings.
The source material is a popular series of Internet stories by pseudonymous author Xiang Xi Murakami Haruki that satirized conservative Hong Kong society while drawing attention to the sex industry in nearby mainland city Dongguan.
Narrating the story of his life thus far, twentysomething Frankie (Justin Cheung) first appears as the nerdy teenage son of a disciplinarian mother (Lily Ng) and subservient father (Tony Ho). Driven by raging hormones and supplied with adult viewing material by cool buddy Wang Jing (Sit Lap Yin), Frankie feeds his sexual fantasies via Japanese adult-video star Jessica Kizaki before losing his virginity in a drunken haze that ruins a budding romance with nice girl Zoey (Mo Qi Wen).
The humor here is more cheeky than raunchy, with the notable exception of a very funny gross-out scene in which Frankie’s onanistic activities wreak havoc at a family mahjong game. Laughs are in much shorter supply once Frankie enters his 20s and finds himself stuck in a sexually frustrating relationship with clean-freak Zeta (Celia Kwok). Reunited with Wang Jing (now played by Gregory Wong) and egged on by gas-bag co-worker James (helmer and co-scripter Mark Wu), Frankie winds up in Dongguan bordellos, where he beds a succession of beautiful working girls including Fish (Jeana Ho) and Celia (Daniella Wang).
Screenplay by Wu and Lam Fung at least attempts to wedge some analysis of male-female relationships between bedroom bouts, but Frankie’s commentary on the meaning of his frisky behavior and longing for true love has a bland, heard-it-all-before ring to it. Thesping is adequate, even though the cast consists almost exclusively of models with limited acting experience, but the name of the game here is naked flesh, and the pic keeps its promise with a bountiful supply of bodacious bodies.
Acquiring a sheen lacking when the actors are clothed, Howard Cheung’s stereoscopic photography of intimate activity shows the spectacle in simple, effective wide shots and avoids disorienting closeups that helped kill off the first wave of 3D skin pics in the ’70s. Other technical elements are OK.