But what the hell, sit back and watch two hours (yes, two hours) of sleazy period drama that makes Caligula look like a peck on the cheek from your Grandma, has all the sophistication of a tug in a sock and puts back the cause of sexual equality about 500 years. Because Zen is unapologetically the work of a madman and less the Emperor’s new clothes more that he’s not wearing them at all and running at you with his chap in his hand.
Plot wise, the film crosses genre boundaries without forethought or care. You have elements of period piece, crass knockabout humour, action, horror and softcore porn all bound together and driven forward by the leading man’s constant need to become a better lover or, as he sees it, simply to obtain a bigger penis (whether that be human, horse or donkey).
There are moments in Zen, especially the final 30 minutes, when the humour – whether intended or not – is lost in a myriad of ever more questionable sexual politics. When a rape has the same mise en scene as any of the other apparently “titillating” sex scenes within the film, you know that you’re stumbling into uncomfortable territory.
Plus there are moments of extreme bloody sexual violence against women – and men - that are prevalent and disturbing to say the least, and make you question why you’re sitting in a darkened room viewing this at all.
As the film finally comes to an end, and believe me it becomes a real struggle to get there, you start to ask yourself a few questions such as: did it entertain me? I can honestly say that for opening hour of confessions-style weirdness it did; was my constant laughter and confused expression what the director was hoping for when started the cameras rolling? Probably not.
Zen is a piece of trash but it is unlike anything you’ll ever see this year or most likely any year. I have booked an appointment with a psychiatrist forthwith and I suggest you do the same.