October 15, 2007

Ang Lee’s “Lust Caution” 《色‧戒》


My opinion on this movie is really simple. It’s “entertaining” for people with Chinese background due to the considerable efforts by Ang Lee in making it. The storyline may be an issue but can be ignored by some audiences.

The real story of 鄭蘋如 based upon interviews of her sister 鄭天如, and the original novel by 張愛玲 were posted in below.

As a person that never read Chang’s novels, I interpreted the whole story was exactly in the topic 色‧戒 which means, in simple English, “Sex! Don’t do it”. I don't see there is real deep love in the story.

For the movie, it added extra feature “Love” in it. Good or bad is up to the views of the audiences. Both storylines of the novel (戒) and the movie (Love) were built on sex so the sex scenes are needed.


Below are comments from audiences.

32 comments:

Fran said...

Story is great, director is OK, sex scene is "C", they need to find better body for these kind of scene, when the figure is not good then it's not a enjoyment or entertainment anymore, plus, this is not a sex education movie, Anh lee need to have more deep thinking, what's the meaning of showing all his fantasy, I guess it's middle age fantasy? can't help to ask, what is his next movie looks like.

Bill said...

I like your ratings, except I will upgrade the sex scene to "A". One
thing I don't like Ang Lee is that he gets bolder with his age. This
movie may show that when it comes to sex, Chinese can outrun
Anglo-Saxons.

charles said...

Your sour grape feeling about not being the actor of the movie is quite explicit but is understood. You have my sympathy.

wy woo said...

Below is only my opinion:
The movie is "entertaining" for most Chinese people.
For world class, my rating is B.
The storyline is B-
The sex scenes is B+

george said...

But please remember that the "Jei" is more important than "Se" in our life for all of the older than middle age people.

Ni Fu said...

Haha, if no temtation of Se, why should we think Jie
is more important to our life? So, i think we should
forget about Se and let Jie to guild us through life.

Evange said...

Well, all the sex scenes are edited out as Singaporeans get to watch the version meant for China....

Ling said...

I think it will be more appropriate to name the edited version as Caution: No Lust! in English and [戒 色] [Jie-Se] in Chinese. ^^

wy woo said...

You guys cannot see the scenes in Singapore. Hmmm...May be it's good for Singaporeans.
Ha, Ling, I don't understand. If there is no 色, how do you 戒 ?

Alice said...

Maybe you guys get the wrong thing, it's not the caution of sex, this Chinese word is chosen for the meaning of the "surface" of everything.

lala wijaya said...

Evange, all the sex scenes are edited? Wow, the movie must be much shorter then. May be they should cut the ticket price too in order to be fair. :)

ling said...

wy, 戒 can also mean quit and 色 can mean sex too. So in a nutshell, [戒 色] means quit sex.
Alice, I'm just being playful, suggesting some crappy names for the edited version. I mean no offence to Eileen Chang and Lee Ang.
Seriously, I think the movie title suggests that the female protagonist is using lust to lure the male lead into a death trap. However, she falls in love with the guy and cautions him about the plot.

Alice said...

Lust: Caution Lust; Caution Lust, Caution
If the audiences watch the title carefully would notice the space between two words.
Finally I've got a chance to watch it, and the only leading role is Wang Jie Ji (acted by Tang Wei). I was shocked by her acting skill, it's only her first movie, it's not just because her daring in the sex scene with naked body. Lee Ang spent a lot of time to train her up, she only had one mistake in Cantonese pronunciation, I bet even at this moment Lee Ang has not noticed because he does not speak Cantonese.

That's why it's difficult to be an actress; the director can always train up a brand new star from a drama/movie academy. Before this movie, she was a really unnoticed actress who was featured in a few not-quite-popular TV dramas. The excessive SM sex scenes are tailored made for the Western market, I believe. It's also an outlet of this middle-aged director with the rebellion nature within and a submissive appearance as a traditional family man. The sex scenes did express Mr. Yee's trust towards Wang (the spy). Moreover, it's the low cost explosion to build up the "dramatic elements" and intensity; otherwise the war scenes are necessary.

I think the story itself is not a great one but he paid attention to the little details and his movie technique is good but the depth and insight about the history of this period has not achieved to "great". I like "The Piano".

Sometimes Lust can transfigure to Love and Love can transfigure to Lust.

Wang's father abandoned her and got married again in England, her loneliness; emptiness prepared her the courageous action to seduce Mr. Yee, a spy head in the Faked Nanjing Government.

After watching the movie, I fell into deep thinking. Why would the students plan to kill Mr. Yee? After his death, there will be another group of Mr. Yees.

The original author Eileen Zhang went to Hong Kong University for a while so she incorporated this little detail into this short novel. Her background with the other official of the faked Government did provide her some hints of such a man who had a contradictive character like Mr. Yee. Eileen Zhang was a friend of Li Xiang Lan, Yoshiko Yamaguchi.

Tang Wei will surely be another important actress in China. Why her? She looks decisive with an introvert character.

wy woo said...

Alice, so you have seen it. There are many opinions on this movie. I think it's good to have that kind of publicity.

"Sex scenes" is not for western market. The sex scene is legal for adults in US and they don't need to see this. Ha... .I think it’s more for eastern society which has less chance to see these scenes

Alice said...

Except the sex scenes, it's still a good movie. The Western film festival awarded the Best Film for Lee Ang. Perhaps it does not like it but you are not the standard. I just came back from Chicago, I guess the west coast does not represent the whole US, right?

wy woo said...

I think the west coast Chinese gave him more support. For the non-Chinese, I doubt they will be interested in the storyline or the sex scenes. But his name may make a sell. So far I haven't seen it attracts non-Chinese. I won’t know what will happen.
The best film in Venice is usually not noticed by common people in US....

clair(多多) said...

wy woo, I’m sorry to tell you, Chinese in mainland can not enter blogspot,operablog,wiki,etc... I think you know why. And it seems we can't see the complete version of Lust,Caution in cinema.

Ling said...

I think I can understand why it is not appealing to the non-Chinese in the US. Many Hollywood movies share a similar storyline. And also, sex scenes are commonly featured in their movies.

Alice said...

The sex scenes are very disgusting and shocking for Chinese, more than any Hollywood movies I have ever seen. I believe he has over done this.

wy woo said...

Clair, Thank you for your info. I was surprised China does not allow blogspot and wiki which I use. Another surprise for me today: I was told by fans on China site that Youtube was banned by the government recently. That’s why they could not see my video.
This is bad news!

shenzheni said...

I don't agree with you guys...

Do you understand what the story is about ??? It does not intend to focus on the history and the war ... This story happend in that period by chance. It can happen at anywhere anytime...It's majorly about "human affection". But once you add the historical background into it , it becomes more interesting and touching. But basically, it does not focus on history.

Who says no westerner will be interested in it ? Yes, when I watch it here in the US. , only 6 American watched it together with a whole room of Chinese. But the US is not a place where the people will pay attention to real art movie. In Europe, especially in France and England, it's totally different. Who says no westerner will be interested in it ? Tan Wei is quite popular when she was in London promoting Lust,Caution.

lala wijaya said...

shenzheni, so glad to hear from you again. I missed you. In fact I was thinking what you would say about this movie a few minutes ago when I was reading Clair’s comment above to wy woo. I said to myself Clair may not be able to watch the full version because she is in Mainland, but shenzheni may be able to watch the full version in USA .....

lala wijaya said...

I have watched this movie yesterday. So you judged the movie as purely human affection? It is so true, but I also judged it with additional different thought. When I left the theater I kind of thinking what would happen if the name “Lee Ang” is taken away from the director’s column and replaced by some unknown director’s name. All other things remain the same. Just Lee Ang's name is hidden or replaced. Would the movie still sell at its current class? When a director has had international high reputation, he seems to be okayed to explore any aspects he wants in creating a movie. People respect him and try to follow his movie plots although the sex scenes are too vulgar that make many people raised their eyebrows watching them (at least the Indonesia movie watchers did). Although sex scenes are necessary in this movie, I doubt Eileen Zhang really focused so much in the sex things(?), but never read Eileen Zhang’s novel myself, I am not too sure about it. While for acting skills, although Liang Zhao Wei has moved forward beyond his normal superb acting, I can firmly say I like his other movies much better than this one. Tang Wei, this is the first time I saw her acting. It will be interesting to see her next movies without Lee Ang coaching her. Time will tell. Well, this is my opinion. ^^,

Alice said...

I guess James Schaumus, the guy co-authored the screenplay and one of the producers did consider a lot when they edited the screenplay. Eileen Zhang did not write a lot about sex, she implied it.

To be fair, if Lee has to sell the sex tricks, he does not need to wait until this movie. I will still believe Tang's acting skill, why? If she is a not-very-talented star, then none of the directors can make her act. I also believe LYA is waiting for a great director.

wy woo said...

You said there are more Europeans watching the movie. That’s good news for Ang Lee. My friend told me another interesting point. Most westerner went to see the movie were females. I guess guys are not that artistic or romantic.

shenzheni said...

Lala, I partly agree with you. I don't know how to express my feeling to this movie and I don't know how I like it...I'm only sure that I love the actor and actress. That time when we walked out of the movie theater,my friend said:"You cried." I didn't cry out , but they saw tears in my eyes...---that's my attitude to that movie...

Ling said...

If Lust, Caution doesn't interest the non-Chinese Americans because they do not pay attention to real art movies. Then, what will be the reason for them to watch Lee Ang's other art films like Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon?

clair(多多) said...

Actually,I feel very strange that you guys think it only attract eastern because of sex scenes.
But now sex scenes is everywhere,and nearly all of Hollywood movie have sex scenes.It's their bussiness mode,that's why Chinese directors like Zhang Yimou,Chen Kige and Feng Xiaogang were produced silly movie like that . They want to make bussiness movie,but they are not good at it.
But Ang Lee is good at making movies which are both welcomed by eastern and western.
He knows both side and tried to use the western appearance and put the eastern spirit in his movies.or eastern appearance ,western spirit.
I remembered in a interview, he said so too.

Ling said...

Quoted from wiki on Lee Ang:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ang_Lee
Lust, Caution won the Golden Lion from 2007 Biennale Venice Film Festival, making Lee awarded the highest prize for the second time in three years. The critics in the US, however, are not all positive. When Lust, Caution was played in Lee's native Taiwan in its original full-length edition, it was very well received. Staying in Taiwan to promote the film and for a traditional Chinese holiday at that time, Lee got emotional when he found that his work was widely applauded by his fellow people. Lee admitted that he had low expectations for this film from the US audience since "its pace, its film language - it's all very Chinese

wy woo said...

clair(多多),
The sex scene in this movie is much more than those in Hollywood movies which are within the allowed limit. However, the explicit sex scene can be seen in other rated movies (like X-rated, one step higher than Lust Caution’s NC 17). Most big movies don’t want to get into those categories.
I think westerners can easily and legally watch the sex scene if they want but not in the eastern society. May be the curiosity makes it more attractive to easterners? I don’t know.

Alice said...

First, I guess the oriental movie makers don't have to take US standard as the only standard, and Lust Caution does not need to be endorsed by them. Who are the target audience of the sex scenes are not that important. For the Easterners, sex isn't any forbidden subject anymore. None of the Chineses I know went to watch the movie for those sex scenes or for "curiosity". A cheap 4X DVD, I can sure it's much cheaper than a theatre ticket. It's very important. Who can say it for Americans whether they like the spy story in Shanghai or "Superman" "007" more? A spy story in Shanghai is not that simple, it's just like Shinder's List or The Pianist, the movie is about the twisted humanity under the influence of war, Wang(Tang Wei) was yearning for love(even from a wrong person...). Why the American like Steven Spielberg would be interested in Shrinder's List? I guess not everybody is the audience of "Spiderman", "Superman" and "Harry Porter".

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