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Lust, Caution not for the US - Ang Lee
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OSCAR-winning Chinese director Ang Lee said yesterday he has low expectations for his new spy thriller Lust, Caution in the United States because it is a "very Chinese" film that may be alien to American audiences.

"Its pace, its film language - it's all very Chinese. I also used Western film noir. It's a new start for me. It's not very audience-friendly for a market like the US. It's not their subject matter," Lee told a forum for young directors in Hong Kong.

He acknowledged that Lust, Caution could marginalize him in the US market after he gained mainstream recognition with films like the kung fu hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the gay romance Brokeback Mountain, which won him an Oscar for best director last year.

Another obstacle is the film's restrictive rating in the US of NC-17 which bans viewers younger than 17.

Lust, Caution, which won the Golden Lion prize at the recent Venice Film Festival, is based on a short story by the famed Chinese writer Eileen Chang. It's about a group of patriotic students who plot to assassinate the intelligence chief in the Japanese-backed Chinese government during World War II.

Hong Kong actor Tony Leung plays the intelligence official, Mr Yi, while newcomer Tang Wei plays Chinese student Wang Jiazhi, who seduces Yi to pave the way for the assassination.

The movie also features Joan Chen from The Last Emperor and Chinese-American pop star Leehom Wang.

The Hollywood trade publication Variety reported earlier that the movie features lovemaking involving "provocative" sexual positions, implied oral sex and full frontal female nudity.

Lust, Caution - with fewer sex scenes - was recently cleared by censors on China's mainland. The mainland does not have a ratings system, so Lee had to provide a version suitable for all ages.

He said the cuts did not compromise the movie's plot and character development but dampen some of its emotional intensity.

Lee called the sex scenes the "crux of the movie."

"Many of the actors' best performances came in the sex scenes. For me, it's an ultimate performance," the director said.

Lee revealed that Lust, Caution went over its US$12 million budget and that he had to find another US$2 million.

(Shanghai Daily September 24, 2007)

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