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: se4 jie4 (2007)

Lust, Caution (2007)

Review written by: Vivian Lee, 2007-12-18

The trailer for Ang Lee’s latest was enticing enough to start with. A mixture of thriller/romance/action. However, I was every so slightly wary after seeing the plot outline - it sounded like a very predictable made-for-Hollywood film. Not the kind I’m usually into.

The film spurned talk and gained the Korean audience’s curiosity by its rumored provocative sex scenes and news sources announced that the pre-screening was held twice, both to two full audiences.

My curiosity was also peaked. Brokeback Mountain had been good. I wondered if Ang Lee’s latest would be worth checking out after all.

Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution”, had premiered at the 64th Venice International Film Festival and won this year's Golden Lion award for best picture, opened in Seoul cinemas on Thursday 8th November and attracted no less than 40,000 Korean viewers.

The film, set in Shanghai during World War II and starring mainland actress Tang Wei and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai, is about a patriotic female drama student who seduces and plots to murder a powerful Japanese collaborator.

The film, which had 30 minutes cut out for the mainland Chinese audience and received a NC-17 rating in the US, managed to pass through the Korea Media Rating Board untouched.

The film is based on a short story by Chinese writer Eileen Chang and unfolds to tell the story of Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei) who is a university student drawn into a drama troupe which plots to assassinate a Japanese collaborator Yee (Tony Leung). Chia Chi is sent to seduce Mr Yee, and soon finds herself in an explosive physical relationship she gets drawn deeper and deeper into. The steamy relationship, where power is equal to sex and sex to power, soon takes the two characters to a jewellery shop where Chia Chi finally gets to achieve her mission and take action. As to whether she actually goes ahead with it or not, I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen it yet.

Watching it had definitely been a good idea. From start to finish, the film set the pulse racing and the old heart beating. Yes, the plot was a little clichéd. But, Leung and Tang’s depiction of the character’s emotions gave the film a certain rich and raw energy throughout. The audience was blown away from start to finish. And yes. The sex scenes were very daring. But in the context of the characters’ emotions they seemed right.

Overall, a stunning piece. Visually stunning and enticing, the emotions are so strong the audience find themselves being both visually and emotionally stunned.

Taiwanese-born, New York-based Ang Lee first caught the world’s eye with his internationally renowned ‘The Wedding Banquet”, a film about a marriage of convenience between a gay man and a Chinese immigrant.

He has since gone on to make further acclaimed works such as Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and the more recent Brokeback Mountain (2005).







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