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The Real Story Behind Lust, Caution Revealed
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The media has revealed that Zheng Pingru, a Kuomintang intelligence agent during World War II, served as the archetype of Lust, Caution, Ang Lee's erotic spy thriller film that recently won the Venice Film Festival's top Golden Lion award on September 8. Zheng Jingzhi, who alleges she is the youngest sister of Zheng Pingru, said the film diverts too far from the real life of her sister.

Zheng Pingru and the leading actress Tang Wei in Lust, Caution

Zheng Jingzhi, an old woman of 80 plus, currently lives in Los Angeles. She claims that she is Zheng Pingru's youngest sister. Zheng stated that the film diverts too far from the actual life of Zheng Pingru, her second elder sister. According to her account, Zheng Pingru was actually a career martyr during the Anti-Japanese War.

Lust, Caution is a 2007 Focus Features film directed by Ang Lee. The film was adapted from a 1950 short story, of the same title, written by the famed Chinese author Eileen Chang. The book claims to be loosely based on actual events that took place from 1939-1940.

Lee's film is set against the backdrop of Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II.

In the film, an idealistic young acting troupe in Hong Kong, driven by patriotic fervor, drafts a naive plot to assassinate a Chinese official collaborating with the Japanese during World War II. Their star performer takes on the role of seductress of the married enemy collaborator.

But eventually she falls in love with her quarry, mostly because of their exciting sexual life.

Lust, Caution contains explicit sexuality and has been given an NC-17 rating in the United States, banning viewers under 17. The film also does not shrink from a graphic portrayal of violence.

Ding Mocun, the traitor Zheng Pingru wanted to assassinate but fail in 1940 

Some journalists have described Zheng Pingru as a coquettish lady and a hetaera. They alleged that many young men were attracted to her beauty and wanted to elope with her when she was caught and imprisoned by the enemy.

These reports irritated Zheng Jingzhi. She said that she could understand how art exaggerates and distorts real life according to the artist's imagination, but she couldn't accept the fact that film viewers would relate to her sister as a heroine who indulged in lustful acts. She stated that such a portrayal was disrespectful to a person who had sacrificed her life for her country.

She also said that Zheng Pingru was secretly murdered by a spy organization run by the Japanese Puppet Regime in 1940 because of a failed assassination plot. At that time Zheng Pingru was only 23 years old and had only enjoyed one short-term boyfriend before she died.

A scene from Lust, Caution

Zheng Jingzhi mentioned that their mother, Hanako Kimura, was Japanese. During the Anti-Japanese War she remained in Shanghai with her husband, Zheng Yue, rather than return to her mother country.

After the assassination plot failed, the Japanese Puppet Regime agreed that if Zheng Yue would work for them, they would set Zheng Pingru free. Although he clearly loved his daughter, Zheng Yue refused their request. Moreover, Hanako Kimura supported her husband. Eventually, Zheng Pingru was secretly murdered in prison.

Zheng Jingzhi added that their eldest brother, a Chinese pilot, also sacrificed his life for his country.

Zheng Jingzhi said that although she was only twelve or thirteen years old at that time, she still can clearly remember everything.

Ang Lee wins the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival on September 8

( by Chen Lin, September 14, 2007)

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