Female nudity has been fairly common in Japanese cinema since at least the 1960s when the director Seijun Suzuki included nude scenes in his yakuza exploitation films such as Branded to Kill (1967). The actress Reiko Ike headlined in a number of exploitation flicks in the early 1970s: Girl Boss Guerilla (1972), Criminal Woman (1973) and Sex and Fury (1973). Nagisa Oshima directed the overtly sexual In the Realm of the Senses in 1976 starring Eiko Matsuda and Tatsuya Fuji. The unexpurgated version of the film has never been shown in Japan, and the film negatives had to be secretly shipped out of the country to France for developing. Eri Ishida appeared naked in Enrai (1981) and Daburu Beddo (1983), before going on to mainstream success. In 1986, Hitomi Kuroki appeared nude in Keshin. In the early 1990s, Loletta Lee appeared nude in a whole series of Hong Kong category III movies, e.g. Girls Unbutton, Crazy Love, and Sex and Zen 2 with Shu Qi. New Love in Tokyo (1994) was notable for having one of the first scenes of uncensored pubic hair. 2000 saw Harumi Inoue strip down for her role in Freeze Me.
Full-frontal adult male nudity (in which genitals are fully revealed) has traditionally been taboo in mainstream cinema from East Asia (and for actors of East Asian origin living outside East Asia), in sharp contrast to the situation in mainland Europe, but similar to the US. However, two rare early examples of a challenge to this taboo occurred: first, in the early years of cinema in mainland China, in the black-and-white silent film The Big Road (1934), directed by radical 1930's Chinese film director Sun Yu, which features the full-frontal nudity of a group of young men skinny-dipping in a river, while being observed by two women, a scene described as "very advanced for the time". Another example of nudity (but with simulated genitals) in East Asian cinema is the Japanese film Hanzo the Razor (1972). It is the first part of a trilogy, depicting Officer Hanzo Itami's foiling of a plot by corrupt officials in Edo period Japan. Simulated male and female genitals are shown in various scenes. There are also scenes showing Hanzo using sexually aggressive tactics in order to extract secrets from women who associated with Hanzo's suspects.
However, a number of films from the early 1990s onwards have begun to lift this taboo. Among them are: the notable frequent full-frontal nudity of Hong Kong Chinese females and the brief but particularly notable full-frontal adult male nudity of a Hong Kong Chinese male actor, Chung Lin, who plays the robot version of Japanese scientist Ryuichi Yamamoto, in the 1991 Hong Kong science fiction/comedy film Robotrix (perhaps the first time in Hong Kong cinema that a Chinese adult male's genitals have been fully revealed on camera in a film on general release); the full-frontal male and female nudity of young Hong Kong Chinese actor Tony Leung Ka-fai and young British actress Jane March in the French/Vietnamese film The Lover (1992); the full-frontal appearance of Hong Kong Chinese actor Michael Lam, who was the lead in the Hong Kong/Singapore film, Bugis Street (1995), as his clothes and underwear are torn off by his lover, fully exposing his genitals; a variety of East Asian actors whose genitals are shown in The Pillow Book (1996); of Hong Kong Chinese lead actor Sunny Chan in a bathroom scene as he enters a shower, fully revealing his genitals for a few moments, in the Hong Kong film Hold You Tight (1997), directed by Hong Kong film director Stanley Kwan; of mainland China lead actor Wang Hongwei in the mainland China film Xiao Wu (English title: The Pickpocket, 1998), directed by a leading Sixth Generation movement Chinese film director, Jia Zhangke, in which a young Chinese man takes off all his clothes in an empty bathhouse and his genitals are shown; of South Korean lead actor Lee Sang-hyun and lead actress Kim Tae-yeon, both of whose genitals are shown in bedroom scenes, in the South Korea film Lies (1999), directed by South Korean film director Jang Sun-woo; of both the male and female leads in the South Korean film Peppermint Candy, directed by South Korean film director Lee Chang-dong (also 1999), in which their frontal nudity is briefly shown in several scenes.
In the 2000s, the mainland China lead actor Liu Ye appears with frontal nudity in the mainland China film Lan Yu (2001), in which his genitals are shown for several seconds as he lies naked on a bed; the frontal nudity of Thai film actor Min Oo, playing the character of Min, is shown, in which his penis is gently pulled out of his clothes by his female lover, and then as it is slowly caressed by her, shown to gradually become erect, in an outdoor scene in a forest, in the Thailand film Blissfully Yours (2002), directed by Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul; the full-frontal close-up of a Singapore Chinese actor's penis in the Singapore film 15 (2003), directed by Singapore film director Royston Tan; a brief view of the genitals of a Chinese male actor in a story where the main characters openly brag about the size of their "packages", in the mainland China film Green Hat (also 2003), directed by Chinese director/film writer Liu Fendou; of mainland Chinese actors Guifeng Wang (playing an extraterrestrial from the planet Mars) and Yu Bo playing his Chinese friend Xiao Bo, shown naked in the mainland China film Star Appeal (2004), with Guifeng Wang's genitals revealed on camera in several scenes, directed by mainland China writer/director Cui Zi'en; of Thai actor Sakda Kaewbuadee, who plays the character Tong, shown running naked in a jungle, in brief glimpses of full male nudity, in the Thailand film Tropical Malady (also 2004), directed by Thai film-maker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
The genitals of mainland Chinese actors Yu Bo and Xiwen Zhang, whose genitals are briefly shown in the mainland China film My Fair Son (also 2005), directed by Cui Zi'en; of Singapore Chinese actor/director Zihan Loo, who removes all his clothes, uncovering his genitals, and while waiting to meet a prostitute, masturbates on camera, eventually revealing his fully erect penis, in the Thailand film Pleasure Factory (2007), directed by Thai film director Ekachai Uekrongtham; the full-frontal nudity of Filipino actor Harry Laurel in bedroom scenes in the Philippines film The Man in the Lighthouse (also 2007), directed by the Filipino film and television director Joselito Altarejos; the full-frontal nudity of Filipino actor Harold Montano in the award-winning Philippines film Tirador, also known as Slingshot (also 2007), directed by Dante Mendoza; a variety of Taiwanese Chinese actors who dare each other to skinnydip in the Taiwan film Winds of September (2008); and of lead Hong Kong Chinese actor Ron Heung and the Hong Kong National Baseball Team, who are shown naked in communal shower scenes in the Hong Kong film City Without Baseball (also 2008), with their genitals fully revealed on camera. The film is directed by the Chinese South African film director Lawrence Ah Mon. In the same year, Filipino actor Marco Morales appeared in full-frontal nudity in two scenes in the Philippines film Walang Kawala, also known as No Way Out, directed by Joel Lamangan, as did the Filipino actors Coco Martin and Kristofer King in the Cannes entry Philippines film Serbis, also known as Service, directed by Dante Mendoza.
South Korean lead actor Song Kang-ho appears frontally naked, with his genitals revealed, in the South Korean vampire horror film Thirst (2009), directed by South Korean film director Park Chan-wook; Hong Kong Chinese actors Sean Li and Osman Hung appear frontally naked, with their genitals revealed, in a variety of scenes in the Hong Kong film Permanent Residence, directed by the mainland China-born film director and producer known as Scud (also 2009), as does Thai lead actor Phakpoom Surapongsanuruk, in a scene of full frontal genital nudity and attempted masturbation in the Thailand film Mundane History, directed by Thailand female film director Anocha Suwichakornpong (also 2009). Three movies, made from 2009 to 2013, feature the full-frontal nudity of Asian American actor Ken Jeong, whose genitals appear in the US films The Hangover (2009), The Hangover Part II (2011) and The Hangover Part III (2013).
The genitals of lead Hong Kong Chinese actors Byron Pang and Hong Kong half-Chinese/half-British actor Thomas Price are shown several times in the Hong Kong film Amphetamine (2010), as are the genitals of numerous Hong Kong Chinese actors in the Hong Kong film Love Actually... Sucks! (2011), including a scene of masturbation revealing a Chinese young man's fully erect penis and uncovered glans. The mainland China film Bad Romance (also 2011), by first-time mainland Chinese film director François Chang, features a brief view of the penis of mainland Chinese actor Hayden Leung in a home shower scene, while the Hong Kong - mainland China film Speechless (2012) by Hong Kong Chinese film director Simon Chung, features a view of the genitals of lead French actor Pierre-Mathieu Vital during a swimming scene, and the South Korea film B-E-D (also 2012), written and directed by South Korean film director Park Chul-soo, features frequent full-frontal nudity. The Hong Kong film Voyage (also 2013), starring the Hong Kong Chinese actors Byron Pang and Adrian 'Ron' Heung, also features full-frontal male nudity in several scenes. The Japanese-Peruvian Internet music star Sebastian Castro (the stage-name of Benjamin Brian Castro) also appears in the film, and in one scene undresses in front of his girlfriend, with his penis and testicles fully exposed on camera.
These appearances contrast with those nearer the beginning of the decade: the much briefer nude (side) appearance of young mainland Chinese actor Cui Lin (in which his genitals are shown) at the beginning of the shower scene in the mainland China film Beijing Bicycle (2001), directed by mainland China film director Wang Xiaoshuai; the very brief frontal view of young mainland Chinese actor Wang Baoqiang, whose genitals are visible for a short moment while he quickly washes in a large metal bucket in the mainland China film Blind Shaft (2003), directed by mainland China film director Li Yang; of Japanese puppeteer and actor Sota Sakuma, whose body and genitals are fully revealed but shown briefly, in a nude beach scene in the US/Czech film EuroTrip (2004); and even the brief frontal view of mainland China lead actor Guo Xiaodong's genitals as he lies in bed with his wife, in the mainland China film Summer Palace, later in the decade (2006).
The appearances of mainland Chinese teenage lead actor Xu Dialing in the mainland China film Red Cherry (1995), of Taiwanese actor Lee Kang-sheng in the Taiwan film The Wayward Cloud (2005), of Taiwanese actors Joseph Chang and Bryant Chang in the Taiwan film Eternal Summer (2006), of South Korean lead actors Lee Yeong-hoon and Kim Nan-gil in the South Korea film No Regret (also in 2006), of mainland Chinese actors Fan Bingbing and Tong Dawei in the mainland China film Lost in Beijing (2007), of Hong Kong Chinese actor Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in the US/mainland China/Taiwan film Lust, Caution (also 2007), of mainland Chinese actors Qin Hao and Chen Sicheng in the mainland China film Spring Fever (2009), and of young Vietnamese actors Lương Mạnh Hải, Hồ Vĩnh Khoa and Linh Sơn in the Vietnam film Lost in Paradise (2011), are all described as featuring full-frontal nudity, although no genitals are shown.
This article was written by Roy Tan.
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