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Lust, Caution (DVD) Tony Leung Chiu Wai/Tang Wei
on 16 April 2011
A haunting piano theme by Alexandre Desplat gives an air of deep meditation throughout this film, directed by Ang Lee set in the second World War and illustrates the interplay between western and oriental cultures. Fortunately this is not a 'war film', but follows the fate of fictional characters from a story by Eileen Chang, based on actual events during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, in 1942.
A group of Chinese drama students led by Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom) descide to take their fate and that of their country into their own hands, and after involvement in various rallys come up with a daring plot to infiltrate the home of the occupying head of Japanese intelligence. They have to pose as a well off family with Chaffuer (using the money of one of their Fathers) to gain accepance into the confidence of Mr Yee's (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) social circle, and that of his wife Yee Taj Taj (Joan Chen). They play a symbolic traditional game of Majong, a kind of dominoes over tea. Beautiful student Wang Jiazhi (Tang Wei) has to become Mr Yee's lover as they still can not get close enough to him for an assassination attempt. His police and bodyguards are ever present.
Uncompromising in crushing resistance, and uncompromising sexually, Yee surprises Wag Jiazi with his sadistic urgency. After being wined and dined and increasing sexual encounters, Wang Jiazhi loses sight of the original plan and falls in love. Yee expresses his regard for her with an enormous diamond and saphire ring allowing his feelings to take precedence over caution. In a remarkable scene in the double agent undercover shop, she warns him of the trap and he runs for his life to his car. She in turn decides not to take her suicide pill, but face the firing squad, with her fellow conspirators, an honourable death.
This is a beautiful, erotic, and tense film on a location where Ang Lee recreates his roots in 1942 Shangai in every detail including street cars, and cafes. It has the uncompromising characterisation of 'Broke Back Mountain', with the electrifying drama of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.' Mandarin is spoken throughout with subtitles in Castillian, or English, with bonus material of the cast and production team dicussing the making of the film. Highly recommended.