Blu-ray Review: THE 33D INVADER
While the Hong Kong movie industry is constantly fighting a battle to keep itself as revered as it was in the late eighties and early nineties, last year it saw a sub-category suddenly become extremely successful again when "Sex & Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy" broke records and became a sensation.
It was called a glorious return to the era of the "Category III naughty" films of decades past, and similar projects were started up immediately. Several of these will be hitting (on) us this year but a few months ago we already got "The 33D Invader", which James Marsh was so kind to check out for us and review (link).
"The 33D Invader" is directed by Cash Chen, who sort of had kept the "Category III naughty period drama" flame burning with his "Sex & Chopsticks" films until the arrival of last year's blockbuster. Instead of a period drama however, this time Cash has made a naughty riff on "The Terminator". And in Hong Kong it has been released on DVD and BluRay.
So is it good? Bad? Hot or not? Read on!
In the future, aliens from planet Xucker have bombarded Earth with radiation rendering almost everyone infertile. The planet's last hope is a young woman named Future, who is sent to our present to convince a healthy guy to get her pregnant.
In the present, we see two groups of students preparing for their exams: four guys and four girls. Or rather, preparing is what they occasionally do. Most of the boys' time is spent spying on the girls and thinking up outlandish schemes to get in their beds, while the girls are busy with sexually embarrassing the boys. The odd-ones-out here are Lawrence and Jeana, who are a bit more serious than their roommates and are close to having a real relationship with each other.
But then Future arrives in Lawrence's bedroom, literally as a bolt out of the blue and quite naked, causing jealousy and chaos in the two households. Elsewhere in the city two other people arrive as lightning bolts: Xucker aliens in disguise, whose mission is to rape Future so she will become infertile...
When I said in the intro that this film is an erotic riff on "The Terminator" I was perhaps not telling the truth, at least not the whole truth. Apart from a hokey pre-credit sequence, the whole girl-from-the-future plot only kicks in when the film reaches its halfway point. Up until then you get a typical eighties student sex comedy, "Porky's" style. Or "Screwballs", or "Revenge of the Nerds", you catch my drift.
And similarly, what the film shows is a full-on battle of the sexes, with gorgeous smart girls and ugly stupid boys duking it out for superiority. Of course, this being a film where characterization is completely determined by way of stereotype, the women get unhinged the moment things turn emotional while the boys are all technical wizards. Anyway, all characterization is thrown out of the window the moment it might prevent the showing of more skin. One of the girls is described at the start as a virgin, saving herself for her Mr. Right, yet a few minutes later she beds a nerd just to cause a temporary distraction on behalf of a friend.
But before you think this is softcore at its most basic, like censored hardcore, it isn't. Titillation is the game here with the focus on showing some T&A naughtiness, but it doesn't go for the plumbing like real pornography does.
For example: one of the beauties in the film, Ceci (Chen Chih-Ying, featured in the shower shot at the top of this article), is almost ridiculously hot-looking. But in her most revealing scene she is mounted by a freakishly thin guy who is SO mantis-like in his appearance that I half expected her to bite his head off at the end. Later in the film she has sex with a cactus creature so ehm... let's just say that if the sole purpose off the film was to arouse, there sure are some potent distractions.
The whole production also looks remarkably well-produced, from the cinematography to the compositions, to the use of color... Even the few special effects do not really shame the film and the set design makes every student apartment look like a millionaire's studio. This sure is not an ugly film. And there are plenty of semi-famous Hong Kong character-actors showing up, spoofing themselves in the supporting roles. This might just as well have been the umpteenth film in a well-established franchise of comedy films.
Therefore it is disappointing that the film's aim is so low. The comedy never elevates itself above jokes about dicks, although to be honest they thoroughly cover the subjects of shape, size, sudden uncontrollability and even the destruction of them. Sometimes the film tries to be "meta" but that never gets anywhere. Xucker number one is played by Japanese porn actor Katô Taka, and sure enough, the first nerd he meets exclaims "Wow, you look like Katô Taka, the Japanese porn actor!". Ehm yes, that was a joke.
Worse than the groan-inducing humor is the attitude: although the women are initially shown as feisty they are completely treated as disposable goods in the second half. Oh, and true love is marvelous, that message was rammed in as an afterthought after all the focusing on how rampant adultery with gorgeous women is marvelous as well. It is a not-so-nice reminder that softcore films are often offensive as hell, whether they're made in the US, Germany, Japan or China. And not for the sexual content (because there is nothing wrong with consenting adults having fun) but because of all the other things in there, the misogynist way the behavior of men and women is shown, which spoonfeeds the audience exactly which of the two sexes is obviously supposed to be subservient to the other.
If you are able to filter all that crap out though, you're left with a good-looking film which offers the occasional giggle (hey, even some dick jokes can manage that) and loads of spectacular-looking T&A.
This film is dirty. DIRTY, I say! But good-looking filth has its place too and this sure wasn't the most horrible movie experience this year. Yes, there is precious little to be gotten from this film apart from some plentiful ogling of beautiful naked women, as the comedy part woefully fails.
Having said that, the oglability factor of the beautiful naked women in this film is very high indeed and the whole movie looks much polished.
On to the BluRay:
Kam & Ronson have released "The 33D Invader" as a single BluRay regioncoded for region A only, meaning some select territories in Asia and all of Northern America.
With BluRays released in Hong Kong it is with a bit of apprehension that I put them in my player. What image quality will greet me? And will I be able to read or understand the subtitles?
Well, no worries are needed concerning the picture quality of "The 33D Invader" as it looks good. None of this upscaling nonsense, this is a true BluRay and the High Definition is real. The colors look exaggerated, with people in the beach scenes looking almost a bit orange at times, but that may actually be the way the film looked theatrically as it fits the "overcharged" atmosphere of the film. The image sure is sharp and the contrast is fine. Know that I have problems getting decent (haha) screenshots from my BluRay so any deficiencies you notice have to do with my capturing method rather than the quality of the disc. The image is almost as gorgeous as some of the women in it.
The soundtracks (Cantonese DTS-HD 5.1 and Mandarin DTS-HD 5.1) are fine as well but let's face it: this is never a disc you'll be buying for its sound. The English subtitles are not flawless but neither are they distractingly bad.
Next up are a few extras. There is a collection of teasers (haha) and trailers, but the main meat is a 25-minute compilation of all the nude scenes called "Sex Addiction". Yes, that's right: if you lack the patience to slog through the 50 minutes of bad comedy (and the 1 minute of melodrama) that is in the whole film, this item is for you. Just as some of the latter-day "Friday the 13th"-films had an item which allowed you to just watch the kills, this one similarly just shows all the skin. For the BluRay it's a pity that this compilation is not in HD, but it beats a photo gallery. Although to make sure, there is one of those too.
So all in all there is not anything seriously wrong with this edition. Some meatier extras would have been nice but the A/V quality is excellent.
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