Lust, Caution, director Ang Lee's latest flick, stirred a lot of controversy in town when it arrived with most of its erotic scenes cut. The film garnered an NC-17rating when reviewed by the Motion Picture Association of America for its graphic sexual content. The director's popularity has pushed some fans to fly to Hong Kong to view the uncut film, and on the way explore some turns through its shooting locations in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The story is adopted from a short story in Eileen Chang's Sejie
. In World War II-era Shanghai, Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei) is a Chinese college student who becomes involved in a drama club after meeting Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom), a charismatic classmate. While Wong is happy performing on the stage, Kuang asks her to take on a very dangerous role in real life. She is to transform herself into Mrs Mak and befriend the wife (Joan Chen) of a major Japanese collaborator, Mr Yee (Tony Leung), only to ensnare him so Kuang and his cohorts can kill him.
However, the plot fails, but after several years, Kuang re-enters Wong's life, whereupon he asks her to resume the deadly mission.
Shanghai is more business-driven and less culturally-focused than Beijing. The film provides a new view of the city aside from its night-clubs, food and shopping. Most scenes in Lust, Caution were shot in Xinchang, a border town outside Shanghai proper and a man-made Shanghai Nanjing Xilu in Shanghai Film Shooting Base.
Spot 1: Shanghai
Scene: Wong Chia Chi moves back to Shanghai and meets one of her classmates when she goes to the theater to see a movie.
The Shanghai Majestic Theatre, built in 1941, lies on Jiangning Road, West Nanjing Ave. The Chinese name of the theater means "beautiful jade without flaw," and it used to be labeled as "No 1 in Asia" by people both inside and outside China. The theater is a well-known historical building, graceful and unique, which blends modern and ancient styles. It has a good reputation for hosting large-scale operas, ballets, music or dance performances and plays. Before and after liberation, famous Peking Opera artists like Mei Lan Fang performed in it. In recent years, it has hosted many acts from all over China and beyond.
Where: 66 Jiangning Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 – 6217 4409, 6217 281
Spot 2: Xinchang
Many scenes were shot in Xinchang, including when Kuang Yu Min is bothered by prostitutes at a hostel in Malaysia, when Wong Chia Chi waits for Mr Yee at a cafe and when a group of Wong Chia Chi's drama club members take the tram on a rainy day. Ang Lee rented the entirety of Xinchang for a month to shoot the scenes.
Xinchang was a short name for Xin Yan Chang (the new salt place). Most of its residents made their living in the salt trade. Trade was successful, and many of the residents were quite well-off. To learn more about Xinchang's history, the best place to visit is the local museum. The town’s elderly people are more than happy to tell tourists the tales of the town.
Memorial Arch and arch bridge
The town is known for its memorial arches and arch bridges. Although most of them have been renovated, the bridges’ history can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The bridges create a beautiful, poetic scene with the town's quiet waters. They were constructed over many generations from Yuan (1271-1368) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Where: Building 17, Huading Dasha, 2368, Zhongshan Xilu
Tel: 021-6426 555
Spot 3: Shanghai Film Shooting Base
Scene: Shanghai Nanjing Xilu was a famous street known across China in the 1930s. It presented the best of the country’s fashion developments. The film base was built with an investment from the Shanghai Film Group Corporation and is an ideal place for shooting, sightseeing and culture communication. The park features many sets like "Nanjing Road in the 30's," "Shanghai traditional houses," "Downtown Shanghai in old times," "European style architecture," "Suzhou Creek," "Church," "Peace Plaza" and "Old Shanghai bridge."
The studio also has a trolley, an exhibition of SFS Costumes and Props Selection, a race course and an old Shanghai street show. Shanghai Film Shooting Base is a destination for more people than just production crews and tourists, and draws in teenagers looking for a glimpse into the past.
(China Daily via Beijing Today November 20, 2007)