Lust, Caution (2007)

Lust, Caution (2007)

A wartime spy falls for a collaborator in this erotic espionage drama



China, Hong Kong
Cantonese, English, Hindi
Action, Drama, Romance, Thriller
Akiko Takeshita, Anupam Kher, Cheng Yu-Lai
158 min


Now, why haven’t we seen Tang Wei and Tony Leung in a film together again?

What it's about

Shanghai, 1942. Three years after university, Wang Jiazhi gets swept up in a passionate yet dangerous relationship with the powerful political informant Mr. Yee, the target she’s assigned to assassinate.

The take

During wartime, war supersedes everything, including love. Wartime would have people ending relationships, forgoing potential dates, and seducing enemies to lead them to downfall, all in order to win, but sometimes, this rarely goes as planned. Lust, Caution is one such story, with the novella’s emotional repression making it a great match for director Ang Lee, main actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai as Japanese informant, and main actress Tang Wei, who made her breakthrough here. It’s not an easy watch. There are moments that falter and the film is a tad too long. But the smoldering stares shared by the two leads, with the lush production design and the beautiful direction, makes Lust, Caution a difficult contemplation of love and sexuality as Wang’s, and the nation’s, double-edged sword.

What stands out

Tang Wei is a standout in this film, even against the likes of Tony Leung. It’s actually a shame that after the film’s release, she was temporarily banned by the Chinese government from making another film due to the explicit scenes. But she was so memorable in this film, it’s no wonder she was able to make it back again after a few years, eventually starring fifteen years later in Park Chan-wook’s neo-noir Decision to Leave (2022).


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