When some bddies from Hong Kong come together to finance to a pornographic video production in Japan, it all seems it so easy. But their get rich quick scheme hits a snag when their male lead quits on the first day, forcing one of them to take his place. Wyman (Chapman To) reluctantly accepts the role – and surprisingly becomes an adult film star in Japan and at home.

2.5
Soft-core sex satire a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

2.5 stars

Now, here’s a film for a niche market.

Directly targeting Hong Kongers who have a fetish for Japanese pornography, comedy Naked Ambition 3D will offend most people that stray into its path. All others can count on some amusement and bemusement with the latter in greater servings. Hong Kong’s master of the comedic double-take, Chapman To, plays Wyman Chan, an unemployed writer who decides to get rich quick with some of his pornography-loving buddies by investing in a Japanese Adult Video production. Flying to Japan, they co-opt Hong Kong-ese, long-time Tokyo resident Shodaiko Hatoyama (Josie Ho) to act as their co-producer.

On day one of the shoot, their leading man quits, protesting his new producers’ suggestions of too many complex (and whimsically titled) sexual positions. Naturally, one of the Hong Kongers must act as the screen stud’s replacement. Wyman’s friends are all too timid to have sex with a porn actress (Yui Tatsumi, the first of many authentic porn actresses appearing in the film), so Wyman reluctantly takes the gig. To protect his identity, Wyman adopts the professional name Mario Ozawa (a play on the name of a famous Japanese erotica star, Maria Ozawa). Unaccustomed to such an inexperienced and unforthcoming leading man, the ‘actress’ takes charge – and this is where Naked Ambition 3D gets really iffy – the terrified Wyman responds to this sexually forceful woman by emitting the exaggerated squealing and protests that is part and parcel of the rape fantasy that is a key element of Japanese pornography. As a consequence, the DVD becomes a number one seller with Japanese women as it (allegedly) epitomises their own erotic fantasies.

Wyman tries to minimise the humiliation (cue the first pixilation gag), but his home life becomes unbearable when his porno debut is pirated in Hong Kong and turns up on every Chinese website from Beijing to Taipei. Abandoned by his girlfriend (Candy Yuen), Wyman returns to Japan to capitalise on his pornography stardom and trains in the art of erotic stimulation with a Japanese master, ‘Goldfinger’ (played by male AV veteran Taka Kato), before appearing in a number of AV films where he is ambushed by horny Japanese women. Somehow, the film manages to shoehorn in a romantic angle with Tsukasa Aoi (another AV star) in amongst all this erotic tomfoolery, but the film maintains its madcap spirit with an extended cameo by Louis Koo, who becomes Wyman’s AV rival. The climax where the pair square off to prove who is the most gentle, loving Chinese lothario in the land of the rising sun, recalls the puzzling climax of erotica exotica movie Weatherwoman (2006).

With Chapman To shamelessly leading the way, the actors push onward through good, bad and appalling jokes. The Japanese porn actresses play their parts with gusto and at times do a better job than To of keeping a straight face during the silly shenanigans. The true standout is Josie Ho, who manages to imbue her character with real heart as she depicts a Hong Kong woman who was sold into sex slavery by the Yakuza and becomes Wyman’s AV producer/agent. Ho is both genuinely funny and somehow keeps her character’s dignity intact. Given the circumstances and the rest of the script, that’s no mean feat.

There are some uproarious moments, like the visual depictions of women gushing and a premature ejaculation moment that makes Cameron Diaz’s There’s Something About Mary (1998) look like a minor mishap, but Naked Ambition 3D has none of the sustained hilarity or the originality of the 2012 Chapman To vehicle, Vulgaria. But since this is parody, plain and simple and that genre by its nature is second hand, originality it probably too much to ask.

Familiarity with touchstones of Japanese pop culture, such as the work of comedian Matsumoto Hitoshi, Japanese monster and superhero movies will be handy for enjoyment. Otherwise check political correctness or just plain old sensitivities at the door, because this soft-core ribaldry gives few concessions to good taste. Enough Japanese language skills to recognise that Chapman To’s nihongo pronunciation is appalling will also help, but Cantonese speakers will have edge when it comes to untranslatable jokes about dog shit and testicle touching that apparently are derived from one character’s name.

One could feel sheepish about the Beatle-wigged To being mass molested on a ‘Women Only’ subway carriage by a gaggle of giggling Japanese women lead by a massively-breasted woman (Anri Okita providing ‘justification’ for one of the film’s very few applications of its 3D technology). Likewise the scene where a woman spins off into orbit after fellating an extended, pixallated phallus, may give some people pause. But it was the early scene where the HK boys said they would be tough with the Japanese porn actress, as revenge for all the Sino-Japanese historical humiliations and as a validation of China’s claim on the Diaoyu (aka Senkaku) Islands that made me feel the most uneasy. I doubt Japanese people would find it funny either. Though I’m sure there exists somewhere a Japanese video that transposes the political loyalties. But in case you doubt it, Naked Ambition 3D also includes a brief moment of anti-Mainland, Hong Kong patriotism, in order to prove that there really is something here to offend everyone. You’ve been warned.

Details

MA15+
1 hour 46 min
In Cinemas 24 April 2014,