This can be by far the most sensual movie I have seen. The cast is brilliant, the story is flowing. Even though the movie is in Chinese, I never felt alienated to the cultural density of the movie. There are so many strong emotions such as hate, love, lust, patriotism that are tangled so artistically. Needless to say more, go and see this movie.
Ang Lee suffers from third-act paralysis. This movie is definitely good in the first hour or so, but begins to lag from there.
I wouldn't call it paralysis. The third act is deliberately paced. The movie constricts itself like a funnel as it moves from the plot-dependent first two acts to the final act, which focuses on the emotional turmoil within the two leads. I don't think it's a masterpiece or anything, but it's the final act that raises the story to tragic proportions, and Lee wouldn't have managed that had he not shifted focus like he did in the final act.
Lee could well be the new Lang; able to turn his hand to any genre and always produce superb work. His epic wartime drama is provocative, thrilling and passionate. Set against the backdrop of wartime Shanghai, it features a young woman who's recruited to play a part in a plot to assassinate a ruthless collaborator with the Japanese invaders. She has to seduce the target and so becomes entangled in a dangerous game...
Visually spectacular and an intriguing story. Finally watching it reminded what a great director Ang Lee is. This pushes close to the best I have seen from him.
The story line is impressive. I was bored the first time because all I saw was women playing mahjong, until the story kicked in. I was speechless by the time the film ended. It's still one of the best I've seen.
It was a very beautiful, very moving piece of work. The colors were bright and sharp, the eye-level medium close-ups were done majestically, lovingly taking in all the subtle glances, half-smiles and nuanced gestures the actors so wonderfully executed. It is an elegant film. And one worth watching (in its original language, please). The ending however could have been different. I felt the tiniest bit cheated.
Lee missed an opportunity to go film noire by having the Tei character made a mere sex toy for the occupier, she surviving in ignominy the deaths of her betrayed co-conspirators. Exploited over and over sexually might be a lesson of sorts for ahistorical teen-agers of all ages. Or, we could have had a 'hopeful' finale wherein Tei's loving-too-well character is the sole survivor of the entire debacle.
I for one was disappointed in Ang Lee and the scriptwriter. The teen-age horror flick ploy of "the girl who has sex must die / be punished" is a very tired cliche. Wang Tei and Tony Leung tried their best - no blame to them. The work is really just a Joan Chen/Ang Lee vehicle. BTW, the English cut was totally butchered.
The overall story is a 3 but I nudged it up to 4 on the basis of the film's bold, fearless sexuality. It's completely irrational -- all sexual obsessions are -- and borederline objectionable (or at least questionable) from a feminist point of view. That said, I never got the sense that any of it was for mere titilation. In essence, it's a hypnotic examination of the inextricable push/pull between men and women.
Si el "still" no resulta un aliciente para echarle un ojo a esto, habria que añadir que este estupendo drama cargado de tintes eroticos, ademas de presumir de una puesta en escena en extremo efectiva, es la confirmaciòn de que este es el tipo de cine adecuado para un director (talentoso dentro de lo suyo) como Ang Lee. Màs vale filmar nalguitas que monstruos verdes.
The way the Chinese government treated Tang Wei after the release of this picture is disgraceful. One of the bravest 1st feature performances I've ever seen only to be met with a virtual black listing from her home nation.