Lust Caution (Se, jie) is a movie where espionage and sizzling hot romance takes place in 1940’s China. The setting for this movie occurs in Japanese occupied Shanghai. Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei), was on her way to a University in Shanghai, where she inadvertently caught up with a leader of a Chinese resistance organization against the Japanese occupation of China. The handsome student, Kuang Yu Min (Lee hom Wang) was in the drama club at the University and persuades Chia to join in. Kuang was always outspoken when it came to the topic of Japan, he often spoke openly against Japan and wanted to do something more than act in drama plays that only depict the Chinese/Japanese war. He wanted to contribute a greater effort towards the Japanese occupation of China, and organized a small group of rebels to do just that very thing.
I was a bit upset with the dynamics of this movie–but not enough to not enjoy the overall series of events between the two characters, Kuang misguiding Chia Chi; for she was secretly in love with him and he knew it! I think this was where my problem with : men having the ability to exploit a woman’s love–vulnerabilities–in their favor. Ah, I know I am going off a bit with my personal feelings in regards to this tale, sigh, forgive me for digressing. Kuang’s first love–the resistance, would prove fatal in this relationship.
He (Kuang) used Chia’s love, to embark on a sinister plot to assassinate the man, who was a war recruiter and agent of Japan. The hoax was to pretend to be wealthy international commodity traders. Chia, now Mrs. Mak, established herself in the closely knit circle of Mrs. Yee (Joan Chen), the wife of Mr. Ye (Tony Leung) the man the resistance group is attempting to assassinate. Mr. Ye was instantly attracted to Chia and began a very steamy and sexually violent relationship. I highly recommend the unrated and unedited version of this film.
In order to grasp the gravity of the relationship between Mr. Yee and Chia, it is almost bitter sweet to watch the more mature portion of their relationship as it enhances the sequences of events that play out among the both of them. Soon, you will realize the series of events unfold into a cataclysmic ending. Ang Lee’s brilliance in the direction in this film is masterful! Not only is it visually pleasing to watch, the clothes and staying true to the visuals of that era are expertly achieved.