Lust, Caution (Widescreen Edition)
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Product Description

Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 01/06/2009 Run time: 159 minutes Rating: Nc17

Lust, Caution, Ang Lee's follow up to Brokeback Mountain, for which he won the Academy Award? for Best Director, continues his exploration of people with a passion for each other trapped in a world where their passion could be life-threatening, but in a very different context this time. Set in China during the Japanese occupation of early World War II, the underlying plot concerns the story of young Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei), an actress and member of a small group of student resistors planning to infiltrate the home of Mr. Yee (Tony Leung), a high-ranking collaborationist government official, in order to kill him for his role in the torture and executions of Chinese resistance fighters. Chi ingratiates herself with Yee's wife, the sophisticated and cultured Mrs. Yee (Joan Chen) under the guise of being the wife of a wealthy but unseen tycoon. Flashbacks tell the tale of how Chi came to be involved with the resistors: her acting ability is her most valuable asset, and her assignment is to act the role of Mr. Yee's lover, right down to the sex. The story of their love and the painful intimacy it involves for both of them is told through their sexual relationship, which starts out violently, drifts into S&M, and shifts with their feelings, moving from pain and fear to some sort of desperate connection. This is lust with a capital L; the film's sex scenes have become famous for their frankness and acrobatic portrayals (they took 12 days to film), but amazingly enough, it's never prurient. The nature of their sexual relationship, and not the sex itself, is the point. Chi falls in love with the man she's supposed to kill, but there is no stopping the mission and she knows it. The danger of it all collapsing for them both is ever present, and that's the Caution. The cinematography and direction in Lust, Caution is masterful, and every scene is beautiful. The film does drift into a languid pace, and at times one wonders why Lee would feel the need to draw it out at the expense of delaying the crucial climactic scenes. Still, it's a wonderful piece of storytelling that should only help solidify Ang Lee's place in cinematic history as a master of films that express the difficulty of being essentially human in an inhumane world. --Daniel Vancini

Stills from Lust, Caution (click for larger image)

Customer Reviews:

  • A Glamorous Noir Vision of China
    Chinese auteur Ang Lee is the chameleon of directors. Who else has such a broad, genre-busting resume? A period piece based on a beloved classic of English literature (Sense & Sensibility); a superhero flick (The Hulk); a meditation on dysfunctional 1970s suburbia (The Ice Storm); another period piece about two doomed cowboys in the love that dared not speak its name in 1950s Wyoming (Brokeback Mountain). Lee returns to his country and language of origin with "Lust, Caution". This follow-up to 2005's "Brokeback" explores lust of a more traditional sort between a beautiful young woman and a powerful man in 1942 Shanghai. Complicating what would otherwise be a straightforward clandestine affair is that the man is a high-ranking official in the Chinese collaborationist government and the lovely young woman is a member of the resistance fighter cell targeting him for assassination. Her mission: get close, really close, to her target, close enough so that he will fall in love with her, drop his guard and therefore become vulnerable. The plan works, but it works too well, as the Chinese Mata Hari finds herself falling for the man she is on a mission to kill.

    Not since "The Last Emperor" has China looked so glamorous on film. Equally glamorous and a real find is its leading lady, Tang Wei, in, remarkably, her first feature film. She gives a nuanced and gutsy performance in a grueling and often brutal role, as her character undergoes a transformation from naive schoolgirl to glamorous, capable espionage agent and sexually conflicted woman. The graphic scenes of rough sex (featuring at least 47 positions from the Kama Sutra) were an integral part of the director's vision, but the violent coupling of this pair is profoundly unsettling. Tang's high-ranking lover is played by Tony Leung, but not the Tony Leung of "L'Amant", the reminiscent love scenes notwithstanding. This Mandarin-language film presents a challenge for English-speaking viewers to keep up with the subtitles, but it presents a facet of Chinese history that is rarely explored on film. We have many films featuring the French Resistance, but none, until now, depicting its Chinese counterpart. A demanding but worthwhile film-viewing experience.
    ...more info
  • Loved this film
    Another film I purchased after renting it. I only wish I had seen it on the large would really have the feeling of being there in this time period.

    Brilliant editing, filming, script, performances, story telling as well as sensual.... it is a breathtaking film!

    Highly recommended!...more info
  • Loyalty overcome by longing -- in this sumptuously filmed tale of occupied China
    Wong Chia Chi is a young and inexperienced woman from Shanghai, studying at a Hong Kong university to escape from the Japanese occupation of her home city. She is soon caught up with a group of idealistic young revolutionaries, in a plot to assassinate Mr. Yee, a high ranking official in the collaborationist government. Posing as Mrs. Mak, the wife of a wealthy businessman, she insinuates herself into the family of Mr. Yee, eventually winning his trust and becoming his mistress. Trouble is, the line between her passions and her pretense begin to slowly crumble, leading to questions where her ultimate loyalties lie.

    This is a gorgeously filmed and subtly acted story of love, lust and betrayal. It does plod along a bit after a while, but for the most part kept me engaged and interested in the ongoing intrigue. While there are several secondary characters, the focus is on the developing relationship, that begins as savage lust and becomes an intimate and tender bond. Mr. Yee -- played by Tony Leung -- is both ruthless and refined, troubled and self-possessed. Tang Wei plays Wang Chia Chi/Mrs. Mak -- and moves brilliantly between the wide-eyed curiosity and anguish of a bright young woman who has been abandoned by her father, and a demure but articulate and seductive Mrs. Mak.

    It is a shame that most of the attention this film received on its release centered around the volatile and savage scenes of passion -- for which this film received an NC-17 rating -- since it is a carefully produced and effective period piece and the sex is filmed to portray character rather than to titillate. This review is based on the R-rated version which I saw on dvd, and in that version it struck me that the sex was filmed in a way that underplayed its eroticism. Or, a better way to put that is that the scenes convey two people who are unable to achieve intimacy -- and the only genuinely erotic scene of love play between them was their final intimate scene in which they are fully clothed and she sings to him. Only at that point did he let his guard down and when she touches his hand it is as if they are genuinely touching for the first time. ...more info
  • Great film!
    Saw it in the theater and had to own it. the story is a marvel and the female lead is so intensely beautiful. Great film....more info
  • Great characters, but needs more historical context
    I recognize that many aspects of this movie are nothing short of greatness. Ang Lee has once over outdone himself in a new genre - that said, "Lust, Caution" is deeply lacking as a Chinese movie published to the Western world. While the characters' actions are moving, there is not enough historical context to explain their motivation. For example, the audience is not introduced to any of the horrendous crimes on the part of the Chinese collaborator guy that justify the plots against him. There was even less mention of what was happening to China at the time, which diminishes the blood-pumping patriotism that is at the heart of the struggle against the lust/love. Equally unexplained was why the resistance made the decisions they made, which just makes the movement look ineffective if not stupid.

    As a short story on paper, the plot may have been crafted to leave plenty of room for a reader's imagination to ponder on the morales. As a feature-length film on the big screen, the same plot is just too unsatisfying, especially to an audience who are not necessarily familiar with its background.

    Good stuff. It just had the potential to be SO much better......more info
  • 3 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    Lust Caution is far better when focusing on espionage than when focusing on sex and relationships, even if the sex is the reason the movie was so notorious; too long for its own good, it's a decent film but potential viewers would be better suited to watch the similarly themed but more enjoyable (if less stylish) Black Book....more info
  • great acting and cinematography
    This is a cerebral espionage thriller, plumbing psychological depths that are rarely attempted, much less achieved, in ordinary films in this genre. The award-winning director Ang Lee, one of the top half dozen film directors from Greater China (specifically Taiwan in his case), is at the top of his game in this film, arguably his greatest to date. The stark, unsentimental conclusion and d¨¦nouement may be off-putting for some film-goers who hanker after a feel-good finale, and the amount of violence and nudity makes the uncut version of the film suitable only for viewers of age 18 and up. However, the film resonates very well with the unromantic vision of human passion and battle of the sexes of the 20th-century novelist Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing), upon whose short story the filmscript is based. The female lead Tang Wei and male lead Tony Leung both give excellent performances with a level of subtlety that calls for repeated viewings of the film. ...more info
  • Others have detailed the plot, etc., so only a few words --
    about director Ang Lee.

    I've not seen all his films, but it is clear from those I have seen -- "Eat Drink Man Woman," "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon," and now "Lust Caution" -- and interviews (especially with Zhang Ziyi about her experiences making "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" found on that he is one of the absolute best directors in the business.

    His range is phenomenal: none of those three films has anything in common with the other two in terms of subject, content, or genre:

    "Eat Drink" is a "small" and intimate, and poignant, family comedy, in which he consciously substituted food (for those who've not seen it, the lead male character is a master chef) for the rampant sex in today's films.

    By comparison, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" is wholly unexpected: a wu xia "martial arts" film -- which also revolutionized that genre by including a story with substance, not merely as dispensible bits to fill in the pauses between a number of "martial arts" fights.

    Then comes "Lust Caution" -- another wholly unexpected subject.

    Well, there is one thing that is common to those films: Ang Lee's stories always have both substance, depth, and subtlety. And he draws extraordinary performances from his casts (again, see the interviews with Zhang Ziyi about "Crouching Tiger" -- the hard work she put in in effort to fulfill the director's apparent hopes. Whether he did as she describes deliberately to "force" her to do her best I don't know; but it had a brilliant result).

    And in this: How on earth, as example, did he get such a performance -- especially but certainly not only in the sex scenes -- from the amazing lead actress Wei Tang in her first-ever film!? And, of course, there is her obvious talent: how could an actress, in her first-ever film, so fully be the character as to perform the sex scenes, with other people watching, with such authenticity!?

    Ang Lee is the Chinese director to watch -- even more so than Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar Wai, and a slew of others.
    ...more info
  • Caution, a whole lotta mah jong
    Ponderously, the movie lasts for a 2 plus subtitled hours (unless you understand Chinese), but it felt more like 6 hours. The story takes place over a period of 4 years and it almost seemed like I was watching it in real time. The story is not very convincing and kind of dumb actually, but to Ang Lee's credit it is fairly well told. The acting is pretty good and the visuals are excellent. I especially liked the street scenes of WWII time Shanghai (or whereever that was supposed to be). But my advice to most of you is rent a travelogue or documentary about China and an Asian porno and you'll get what you came for without the tediously uncredible story....more info
  • The best Ang Lee's film ever
    An excellent erotic thriller (in Alfred Hitchcock's psychological way) which takes place in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation (around the 1940s); that is, by far, a lot much better Ang Lee's film than his famous "Brokeback Mountain".
    This movie should have not only been nominated for the 2007 foreign film Academy Award, but it should have undoubtedly won it.
    It's one of the best pictures (together with Paul Thomas Anderson's "There will be blood"; and Sidney Lumet's "Before the devil knows you're dead") that I've been able to see during the last months.
    ...more info
  • Bad story, poor acting, this movie just sucks!
    With much anticipation I watched this movie on DVD and after about 10 minutes became really bored. Anyone who claims they didn't get bored by the first 10 minutes of four ladies playing Mahjong is simply lying, unless he/she is a Mahjong fanatic. The plot never picks up, and I was simply amazed by how bad the actors are. Tony Leung never got into his character, in or out of bed, and he's just incredible as a ruthless traitor, and the young lady, while attractive, simply does not know how to act....more info
  • lust caution
    i fell in love with her, one thing i was disappointed about, i wanted to see what was cut from the film....more info
  • Sexual Espionage Gone Awry
    Set mostly in World War II Shanghai, director Ang Lee's follow-up to "Brokeback Mountain" is an overlong, ambivalent journey into Chinese sexual espionage. Lee aims for an epic grandeur that clashes with the traditional spy thriller - minus the sharp pacing inherent in the genre. Strong performances, impressive period detail and Rodrigo Prieto's mesmerizing photography cannot fully redeem the plodding narrative. By the time "Lust, Caution" reaches its downbeat conclusion, the dramatic impact has been dissipated. Not one of Lee's best films, but certainly worth a look....more info
  • lust caution
  • Beautiful film. Reminiscent of "The Night Porter"
    Very well done. It has been over an hour and I'm still thinking it with the typical sadness that comes after a serious film. The film most reminds me of Cavani's "The Night Porter." Both deal with the savagery of life in occupied lands, both deal with sadomasochistic lust being the direct consequence of leading a violent life, and both end with the characters unable to connect personally to *anyone* as a result of the moral perversions of war seeping in to daily life until in life there are no more people left to trust and only to use for raw pleasure.

    I'd be curious to know if Mr. Lee reviewed "The Night Porter" as part of his pre-planning for the production for this film....more info