AKA: Lust Caution
Year of release: 2007
Director: Ang Lee
Producers: Ang Lee, William Kong
Writers: James Schamus, Wang Hui-Ling
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Tim Squyres
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Stars: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Tang Wei, Joan Chen, Wang Lee-Hom, Chin Kar-Lok
Rated III for violence and graphic sexuality
DVD available for purchase at www.sensasian.com
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After winning the Oscar for best director with 2005's Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee returned to the screen with Lust, Caution, which also generated some controversy for its' dealing of sexuality. Even though it was slapped with a Category III/NC-17 rating (normally a kiss of death), Lust, Caution still became a small arthouse hit, was a favorite of many critics, and won the Golden Lion (best picture) at last year's Venice Film Festival.
All that being said, Lust, Caution simply didn't work for me. I know what a lot of you are thinking: "that's not surprising for someone who likes Wong Jing's movies, drinking beer, and playing video games." But, dear reader, I can appreciate a good "arty" movie. Just take a look at the review of Ashes of Time for an example.
Don't get me wrong. Lust, Caution does a lot of things right. The set design is fabulous; you really get a sense that you are looking at Shanghai in the 1940's. The music, cinematography, and editing are nearly flawless. Simply put, Lust, Caution is a gorgeous picture to look at, and with solid performances from the leads, you would think there would be some weight to the proceedings.
Sadly, there's not. At the end of the 154-minute running time, one doesn't really feel like they learned anything new about the characters and their situation. Sure, I appreciated how Lust, Caution expressed both the power and shame of sexual relations in Chinese society, especially for females. But that sort of thing could be gleaned from any number of other books or films.
The term "jade vase" is used to describe actresses who are paid to look pretty and not do much else, and I think that could be applied to Lust, Caution as a whole. Honestly, if it wasn't for the buzz generated around this movie's fairly explicit sex scenes, would Lust, Caution have caught as much critical acclaim as it did?
Note: the Mainland version (as you might expect) was heavily edited.
The cuts include:
The Malaysian version was cut down even further to eliminate almost all of the sex scenes.
- shot with Tang Wei walking past dead refugees
- murder scene trimmed down to showing only the initial knife stab
- two sex scenes have been totally taken out, with two others being truncated
- Tang Wei's dialogue during the scene in the ring shop has been changed so that she doesn't warn Tony Leung
(information courtesy of The Hong Kong Movie Database)