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Archive for October 11th, 2008

Lust, Caution *****

by Allan Fish

(Hong Kong/China/US 2007 157m) DVD1/2

Aka. Se, jie

Appointment at Chandi Chowk Jewellers

p  William Kong, Ang Lee  d  Ang Lee  w  James Schamus, Hui-Ling Wang  story  Eileen Chang  ph  Rodrigo Prieto  ed  Tim Squyres  m  Alexandre Desplat  art  Lai Pan  cos  Lai Pan

Tony Leung (Mr Yee), Wei Tang (Wong Chia Chi), Joan Chen (Mrs Yee), Wang Lee-Hom (Kuang Yu-Min), Tou Chung-Hua (Old Wu), Chu Chih-Ying (Lai Shu-Jin), Kao Ying-Hsien (Huang Lei), Ko Yue-Lin (Liang Jun Sheng), Su Yan (Ma Tai Tai), Yuen Johnson (Mr Mak),

On its release in the west, and especially in the US, Ang Lee’s film received what can only be described as faint praise.  It was seen as too sedate, too cold in its narrative to the point of analytical, and, of course, there was the sex, that biggest of no-nos to middle-class WASP Americans. Needless to say, these same self-righteous bodies were waiting to tear to shreds any offering from that cursed director, who made the unholy film about gay love, Brokeback Mountain.  Not only shameful but a crying shame, for Lust, Caution is a rare film indeed, and one of the best and most underrated films of its decade.

            In Shanghai in 1942, a young woman, Wong, thinks back on the events that brought her to this moment, beginning in 1938, during the initial war between Japan and China just prior to World War II.  Abandoned by her father who has escaped to England, she becomes involved in the political factions of her student body while becoming the leading lady of a drama troupe.  Not long after, she is coerced by a local underground leader to play the leading role in a plot to assassinate one of the chief collaborators with the Japanese, Mr Yee.  Wong at first reluctantly takes up the challenge, but when it requires her intimacy with Mr Yee, things take a turn to the dark side. (more…)

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