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