By OLIVER SARIA
Illustrations by Katherine Yum
Well, another Valentine’s Day is upon us. Given the state of the economy, we’re guessing you’ll hold off on that Tiffany bracelet and opt to stay at home and pop in a DVD. So we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 sex scenes in Asian cinema to help get you in the mood. We span various genres and cover a range of erotica—from chaste love, to soft-core porn, to Whoa!-What-is-this? Watch an entire movie, or rent a bunch and fast forward to the naked parts. Either way, once you’re done, you’ll probably need a cigarette.
1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/United States, 2000)
The desert flashback in Ang Lee’s soulful martial arts masterpiece is mostly all foreplay: Jen (Zhang Ziyi) chases Lo (Chen Chang) on horseback; they roll around in the sand, kick each other’s asses. It’s a tantalizing prelude to an ecstatic burst of passion inside Lo’s swinging bachelor cave. Stockholm Syndrome never looked so appealing.
2. In The Mood For Love (Hong Kong/France, 2000)
Spoiler alert! The only hole Tony Leung Chiu Wai fingers is the metaphoric kind. But dammit if this isn’t one of the most sensual films ever made. From the gorgeous cheongsams that hug Maggie Cheung’s exquisite body, to the tendrils of smoke that waft around Leung’s sleek pompadour, Wong Kar Wai’s composition alone will make audiences tingle.
3. In The Realm of the Senses (France/Japan, 1976)
Nagisa Oshima’s art-house-smut classic about an all-consuming, violently obsessive love affair was banned when it first premiered. If you presume time and the advent of Internet porn have lessened its shock value, think again. It’s just as jaw-dropping today as it was back then. Full insertion fellatio, money shot, erotic-asphyxiation—it’s a smorgasbord of kink!
4. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (Germany/United States/United Kingdom, 1996)
The title alone makes this a shoe-in. Director Mira Nair lends her flair for sumptuous colors and schmaltzy melodrama to this tale inspired by the ancient love manual. The Dolita Position is definitely in effect when the voluptuous servant, Maya, and the studly royal sculptor, Jai, engage in seated congress.
5. The Lover (France/United Kingdom, 1992)
If the sight of Jane March’s flushed cheeks and nubile body makes you feel like fodder for To Catch a Predator, rest assured that she was 18 when she starred in this scorcher about a 15-year-old girl in French colonial Vietnam and her torrid romance with an older man (Tony Leung Ka Fai, not to be mistaken for the other Tony Leung).
6. Lust, Caution (China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/United States, 2007)
Midway through Ang Lee’s erotic espionage thriller, the sadistic Mr. Yee (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) looks into the eyes of his mistress (Wei Tang)—her naked body contorted around him. By scene’s end, the cruel government official exposes his vulnerability and the novice spy develops genuine feelings for him. Yup, an explosive orgasm will do that.
7. Never Forever (South Korea/United States, 2007)
When Sophie (Vera Farmiga) hires a Korean immigrant (Ha Jung-woo) to secretly impregnate her because her infertile, dour husband cannot, they try their best to keep the sex a joyless business transaction. Yeah, right. Inevitably, they sneak back to his flophouse for some wall-rattling afternoon delight…immediately followed by tearful bouts of shame and guilt.
8. Saving Face (United States, 2004)
It’s every Asian parent’s wish: for his/her child to become a doctor or at least marry one. The dream turns a little queer, however, when Vivian (Lynn Chen) resents the fact that her physician girlfriend, Wil (Michelle Krusiec), refuses to come out to her mother, whose mid-coitus phone call puts the brakes on an otherwise scintillating lesbian love scene.
9. Tampopo (Japan, 1985)
Whereas Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke wasted a woeful amount of groceries in 9 1/2 Weeks, the lovers in Tampopo savor the meal as much as each other. But don’t expect milk and strawberries. Since it’s a Japanese film, the tastes are bit more—shall we say—raw.
10. The Wayward Cloud (China/France/Taiwan, 2005)
Director Tsai Ming-liang’s bold, experimental romp through drought-stricken Taipei features a memorable scene that can only be described as one hot, wet, juicy mess. Real-life porn actress Sumomo Yozakura lies spread-eagle on a bed with half a watermelon cradled in her crotch and…well, you get the idea.
And here’s the worst Asian sex scene!
Too Young to Die
South Korea, 2002
Imagine seeing your halmeoni go down on your harabeoji. Traumatized yet? (If not, something is seriously wrong with you.) Yes, they are a real-life couple. Yes, they are actually doing the deed. And, yes, if we should live so long, we’d be lucky if the plumbing still worked. But, no, we did not need to see that! Thanks a lot, Viagra!