Lust, Caution on DVD. Earlier this summer, I watched the 1998 movie Elizabeth with one of my Chinese friends and we frequently paused the scenes so I could explain who the major courtiers were surrounding the queen and the historical differences between Protestant England and Catholic Spain. I could certainly have used my friend’s help with context while viewing this period piece showing China at war with and under occupation by Japan in the early 1940s. I’m sure I missed several hidden messages in the scenes involving mahjong and despite the best efforts of the translators for the sub-titles, I feel like some pieces to the puzzle, especially at the end, were missing.
Still, this is a very visually-appealing film about a young woman drawn into a plot to assassinate a high-placed agent of the government collaborating with the Japanese. She must infiltrate his household in order to lure him away from his vigilant security staff and get close to him personally without giving herself away. The film is described as a sensual, espionage thriller and it meets that depiction quite well. Veteran actor Tony Leung combines with newcomer Wei Tang to portray the couple whose passion for each other slowly builds and despite the use of foretelling and flashbacks by director Ang Lee, the suspense of whether the plot will succeed or fail is maintained until the end.