Given the massive success of “Sex is Zero” back in 2002, a sequel was always inevitable, and now, finally, “Sex is Zero 2” arrives to challenge the sensibilities of viewers everywhere. Unsurprisingly, returning director Yoon Je Kyun was keen to raise the bar from the original, which in this case basically translates to even more sex, nudity and bad taste gags. The formula proved every bit as successful the second time around, with the film managing to notch up an impressive 1.5 million admissions in the first two weeks of release, proving that not all Korean comedies need be cute and fluffy to succeed.
The plot, such as it is, follows Eun Sik (Lim Chang Jung, also in the original, and recently in “Scout”), who has been dating sexy swimmer girlfriend Kyung Ah (Song Ji Hyo, in a very different role to that she played in “Wishing Stairs”) for three years without managing to get her into bed. Needless to say, this situation drives the poor man to a number of odd extremes as he tries to relieve his frustrations in a variety of increasingly desperate ways. After a handsome face from her past shows up and attempts to sweep her off her feet, he turns to his friends for advice, though most of them are either wrapped up in their own troubled relationships or are simply too crazy to do anything but complicate matters further.
Basically, “Sex is Zero 2” is a faithful retread of its predecessor, following the same plot and even aping some of its gag scenes – not that this is a bad thing by any means, especially since the years since its release have not produced anything with the same successful brand of raunchy humour. For the most part the plot is entirely negligible, mainly revolving around the question as to when Eun Sik and Kyung Ah will finally have sex, interspersed with subplots about the other characters’ bizarre and colourful relationships. Certainly, the swimming theme has quite blatantly only been included as an excuse to show the female cast members in skimpy costumes. Similarly, the K1 tournament seems like little more than an afterthought, and only comes into play during the climatic scenes – though it does at least make for some amusing physical comedy, with plenty of blows below the belt thrown in for good measure.
What matters here are the gags, and the film is certainly big on laughs, at least for those not afraid to let their minds stray to the gutter and whose stomachs and sensibilities are not easily shocked. The sexual content is certainly very graphic, with a great deal of sex and nudity, and with an extensive catalogue of risqué jokes revolving around blow-up dolls, transvestites, bodily fluids, and lollipops being inserted where the sun most definitely does not shine. Despite this, the film is by no means misogynistic, or even particularly sexist, as the male cast members tend to end up naked every bit as often as their female colleagues, and are subject to the same barrage of abuse. As such, although it does wallow in gross out humour for the most part, the film is never mean spirited or cruel. Director Yoon shows a great sense of comic timing, and though of the lowest common denominator possible, at least some of the laughs are reasonably clever. If nothing else, the film definitely deserves some kind of award for the sheer number and variety of wacky sexual escapades, covering pretty much every situation imaginable.
As with the original, the laughs pretty much disappear during the last twenty minutes, as the plot turns serious, actually heading into some pretty dark, tragic territory as it attempts to make the switch to heavy drama. Surprisingly, this works very well, mainly due to the fact that although the characters have inevitably been played mainly for laughs during the running time, Yoon ensures that both Eun Sik and Kyung Ah never become jokes themselves, retaining a modicum of believability and depth, and with their relationship somehow managing to come across as being sweet and genuine. As a result, the film ends on a strangely moving note, arguably more so than with other, straight or serious efforts. It certainly helps that the cast are a generally likeable bunch and turn in game performances, putting on admirably brave faces despite the cavalcade of humiliations and disrobings they endure.
Of course, it’s fair to say that the only real depths in “Sex is Zero 2” are those that it plumbs, something that it does with enthusiasm and saucy inventiveness. On a par with, if not particularly discernable from the original, it guarantees a good time for broadminded viewers looking for unrestrained laughs and is one of the funnier Korean comedies of recent years.
Yoon Tae-yoon (director) / Yoon Je-kyoon (screenplay)
CAST: Im Chang-jeong … Eun-sik
Song Ji-hyo … Kyeong-ah
Choi Seong-gook … Seong-gook
Shin-ee … Kyeong-joo
Yoo Chae-yeong … Yoo-mi
Lee Hwa-seon … Yeong-chae
Lee Sang-yoon … Gi-joo
Hong Ji-yeong … Bo-ra