Provocative, thrilling and passionate, Lust, Caution is the daring new film from acclaimed Academy AwardŽ-winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Set against the backdrop of a transfo... more »rming country, a young woman finds herself swept up in a radical plot to assassinate a ruthless and secretive intelligence agent. As she immerses herself in her role as a cosmopolitan seductress, she becomes entangled in a dangerous game that will ultimately determine her fate. Erotic, breathtaking and suspenseful, this award-winning film is being called "exquisitely beautiful" (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times) and "lushly sensual" (Leah Rozen, People).« less
"Ang Lee breaks through again with a masterful adaptation of Eileen Chang's short story, Lust/Caution (like what he did with Annie Prolux's similarly brief story, Brokeback Mountain). While the hype seems to be mostly misplaced on the controversial acrobatics displayed by Tony Leung and Tang Wei in bed, Lee's storytelling leaves one breathless.
The love story unfolds against the backdrop of 1930's Japanese-invaded Shanghai where tyranny and suffering were synonymous. Nubile Wang Jia Zhi played by Tang Wei joins the resistance movement and gets herself drawn into the role of a spy to crumble the traitor, Mr Yee. In between the espionage and wild climatic trysts, both of them unknowingly embroil themselves in love and deceit, much deeper than they would have liked themselves to.
Tang Wei, as a newcomer to cinema, is impeccable. Her evolution from a wide-eyed country girl to a seductive temptress is enough to make the hardest of most men, in this case, the distrusting Mr. Yee fall for her. Wei acts pretty much on instincts and her body language does wonders at seducing the somewhat vulnerable Mr. Yee played by multiple-award winner Tony Leung. Wei breaks down in the memorable scene where she's talking to the resistance leader on her unyieldingly sacrificial role that is both a torment and insidious attack to her emotions.
As usual, Tony has the penchant for playing dark brooding men and in this instance, an evil Chinese traitor. He does not act. His presence already commands attention as the cynical no-nonsense minister. The pivotal sex scenes, split into three parts, are not just there for visual enhancement. They actually convey the shift in roles between the two throughout their complex relationship. The raw emotions displayed on their faces were enough to convince anyone hard-hearted to think twice about the essence of love. I must say these are some of the best bed scenes you'll ever witness on film.
Of course, the supporting cast of Joan Chen as Mrs Yee and Wong Lee-Hom as Tang Wei's resistance compatriot, Kuang Yu Min, is every bit just as spectacular. In the end, the story about love is bittersweet. You'll also see how fervent the resistance movement, which puts the enemy above self and others, was through Wang Jia Zhi's eyes. Lust Caution is 157 minutes' of rewarding watch that will linger on in your minds well after the credits roll. (A+) "
My New Favorite Movie Of All Time!
LH | NY | 12/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie twice in the theater - very unusual for someone as critical of movies as I am. The first time I went by myself, and the second time I took my husband, who was not initially interested in the story line (espionage and all). He also liked it a lot (though he did not have as much of a personal connection as I did with the film). I was like in a zone for a few days after I saw the movie. It really shook me to the core in a sense. A very powerful movie in and of itself, it moves me particularly because I am orinigally from China and Eileen Chang was one of my faovrite writers when I was a teenager book worm. Having grown up surrounded by the communisit propaganda, I found it refreshing to watch a movie so artfully done to create a theme about love, sexuality and loyalty. It shows how innocent and ignorant the young revolutionaries could be (something that was obviously omitted from our history lessons). This is a movie about powerful human emotions, like all the other movies directed by Ang Lee. I'm also happy to see Ang Lee sticking to making movies based on good, solid stories, instead of falling into the 'glitz overriding story' trap like so many other talented Chinese directors, Zhang Yimou and Cheng Kaige specifically.
Ang Lee said that he made this film for the Chinese audience, but I also read that he was disappointed by the fact that the Chinese media focused predominantly on the raw, sex scenes. I can understand his frustration. I wonder really how the mainland Chinese will embrace such a tale. Eileen Chang was never a Communist writer. In the book and the movie, the revolutionaries were referred to as 'the people from Chongqing.' As the Nationalist Party was based in Chongqing at the time (and the Communists in Yan'an), the revoluntionaries in the book were not Communinist members but Nationalists. That sort of contradicts everything we have learned in history lessons about the Communisit being the main heroes fighting against the Japanese and the Nationalists (the Kuomingtang) being wimpy traitors. Because of these reasons, I doubt mainland China will allow the movie to be shown in public.
But it doesn't mean the Chinese will be denied access to this beautiful film, thanks to the illegal DVD pirating industry. My sister-in-law in China has already bought the film (for a dollar) and watched it. Funny thing is she had very similar reaction to it as I did. My brother said she wouldn't talk to him for a few hours.
I disagree with some critics who called Ang Lee 'indecisive' in directing the movie. I think everything was very deliberately done and Ang Lee was very clear on what he planned to do with the story. He said that it was one of his favorite stories written by Eileen Chang. I suppose if you don't like the story (such as some other reviewers), you wouldn't like the movie. But to me, the story can be interpreted in many ways, and Ang Lee has done a brilliant job conveying what Eileen Chang wanted her story to convey. The sex scenes (not in the book) are integral to the story, as Eileen Chang wrote, "If the path to a man's heart is through his stomache, then the path to a woman's heart is through her v...." The movie is certainly not for the faint of heart.
By the way, the soundtrack is beautiful. I downloaded it from iTunes. Before I receive the DVD in the mail, the soundtrack will do. (But I wouldn't want a Chinese film that's dubbed in English. That's a crime. I'm buying it from somewhere else.)"
Lust, Caution: Acting, Becoming
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ang Lee has the ability to transform simple stories about human relationships into epic films that somehow maintain the quality of intimacy and tenderness despite the grand sweep of his productions. In LUST, CAUTION ('SE, JIE') he has once again created a symphony of a film with a script by James Schamus based on the short story by Eileen Chang, assembled a cast superb actors who convey the story's multileveled messages on the historic backgrounds of World War II Shanghai and Hong Kong using the sensitive camera eye of Rodrigo Prieto and accompanied by Alexandre Desplat's evocative East/West musical score. It is a visual triumph, a fascinating recounting of China's history about which we know little, and one of the most intriguing love stories committed to film.
The film opens in Hong Kong focusing on a group of college students who form a theater group to present plays of 'significance'. Young Wong Chia Chi (the luminous Wei Tang in her first cinematic role) is asked to join the theatrical group and she consents primarily because of her attraction to the leader of the group, Kuang Yu Min (Lee-Hom Wang, a commanding and handsome actor). Events of history alter the purpose of the art groups and they become a Resistance force against the Japanese occupation of China. The leader of the Japanese sympathizers is a Mr. Lee (Tony Leung, one of the most solid actors on the screen today) and the student group plans an infiltration into his home and life by placing Wong Chia Chi into his household. In residence in Mr. Lee's home, she learns to tolerate the constant mah jong games with Mr. Lee's wife (Joan Chen) and her gossipy girlfriends, only to await the moment when Mr. Lee will notice her and hopefully begin an affair that will result in inside information espionage. As the effects of the war tighten problems the Yees move to Shanghai and the troupe follows them: the troupe has become a committed political resistance force with plans to kill Mr. Yee and the cadre of men who support his siding with the Japanese. Wong Chia Chi agrees to follow Mr. Yee's sexual advances and in short time they are caught up in powerfully erotic explosions of lust: it is during these very frank and very erotic lovemaking scenes that Ang Lee manages to reveal the inner aspects of each of these important characters, allowing the audience to see the complete picture of how lust can dissipate caution. The changes that occur between the two characters set in motion a surprising ending, at once disturbing and understandable.
Accompanying the DVD (already in excess of 157 minutes) is a 'making of' feature and a discussion period with not only Ang Lee but also with the stars and production people that is very solid commentary and for once seems pertinent to enhance the enjoyment of the film. Some may find the extended lovemaking scenes too frankly sexual, but so much of the real grit of the story lies in the non-verbal, purely physical language that could only be understood in the way Lee decided to film these gorgeous scenes. This is an important film on many levels and will probably become better appreciated with multiple views. In Mandarin, Japanese, Shanghainese, English and Hindi with subtitles. Grady Harp, February 08"
Great Cinema in spite of the Hype
CarlCarlsen | Seattle | 08/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard about Lust, Caution, like many others, due to its NC-17 rating by the MPAA. As this rating has tended to be an oracle of box office failure in the past, most studios due whatever needed to avoid it in theatrical release. Undaunted, director Ang Lee creates a film whose story and essence require scenes depicting the intimacy and emotion of very graphic sexuality. However, the film is not pornography, not sex and genitals for the sake of sex and genitals, but is rather an attempt to tell a story with the inclusion of sex for emphasis and impact--something all to often done with violence and completely overlooked in film ratings.
The story takes place in 1930s Shanghai, a Chinese city under Japanese occupation. While this setting is necessary to the plot, it also immerses the audience in a time and place completely foreign to all but the oldest generations in China today. Rations, checkpoints, suppression of movement and goods are all elements weighing on the movie's characters, but through connections and resourcefulness, most manage something just shy of a normal existence despite bearing the stress of war.
I cannot recommend this film to those easily upset by nudity or sexuality in film, nor those rare individuals averse to scenes of violence. But, for adults interested in a serious film filled with brutal emotion, the horrors of wartime, and the occasional tragedy of youthful rebellion, do see this."
Subtle and Powerful
L. venus Wan | 10/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watched this movie a couple of days ago, the more I think about it, the more I like it. The graphic scense are controversial but it's the subtleties that spoke to the meaning of the film. In general it's a little long but it's worthy to see all the beautiful details created by the Ang Lee team, the old Shanghai scenes were just gorgeous and unforgettable. I think it could be a little bit more solid, so it's not perfect. Acting and visuals were great, story was very heavy but powerful."