The Full Wiki

Lust, Caution (film): Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lust, Caution 色,戒

Theatrical release poster
Traditional 色,戒
Simplified 色,戒
Pinyin Sè, Jiè
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by Ang Lee
William Kong
James Schamus
Written by Eileen Chang (story)
Hui-Ling Wang
James Schamus (screenplay)
Starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
Tang Wei
Joan Chen
Leehom Wang
Tou Chung-Hua
Chu Chih-Ying
Chin Kar Lok
Anupam Kher
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
Editing by Tim Squyres
Distributed by Focus Features
Haishang Films
Universal (DVD)/Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group (Malaysia)
Release date(s) August 30, 2007 (2007-08-30) (Venice)
02007-09-24 September 24, 2007 (Taiwan)
02007-09-26 September 26, 2007
(Hong Kong)
02007-09-28 September 28, 2007
(United States)
02007-11-01 November 1, 2007 (China)
Running time 157 minutes
Country China
Hong Kong
United States
Language Chinese
Budget $15 million
Gross revenue $65,065,577

Lust, Caution (Chinese: pinyin: , Jiè) is a 2007 Chinese espionage thriller film directed by Taiwanese American director Ang Lee, based on the short story of the same name published in 1979 by Chinese author Eileen Chang. The story is mostly set in Hong Kong in 1938 and in Shanghai in 1942, when it was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army and ruled by the puppet government led by Wang Jingwei. It depicts a group of Chinese university students from the Lingnan University who plot to assassinate a high-ranking special agent and recruiter of the puppet government using an attractive young woman to lure him into a trap.

With this film Lee won for the second time the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.[1] The film adaptation and the story are loosely based on events that took place during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. The film's explicit sex scenes resulted in the film being rated NC-17 in the United States.



In the Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the 1940s, a well-dressed, attractive young Chinese woman named "Mrs. Mak" (Tang Wei) is sitting in a café in a posh neighbourhood. When she makes a call to a man, her seemingly innocuous dialogues are coded signals that prompts a cell of young resistance agents to load their weapons and spring into action.

Hong Kong 1938

The film then flashes back in time to the events in 1938 that led up to the transformation of the shy, inexperienced university student Wong Chia Chi into the glamorously-dressed and seemingly well-to-do Mrs. Mak, her cover role in the Chinese resistance against Japanese invasion. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chia Chi had been left behind in China by her father, who is going to re-marry in the United Kingdom. Chia Chi flees from Shanghai to Hong Kong and attends her first year at Lingnan University. A male student named Kuang Yu Min (Leehom Wang) invites her to join his patriotic drama club. Chia Chi becomes a lead actress in the club, inspiring both her audience and her new-found friend Kuang.

Fired up from the drama troupe's patriotic plays, Kuang urges the group to make a more concrete contribution to the war against Japan. He devises a plan to assassinate Mr. Yee (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), who is a special agent and recruiter of the puppet government set up by the Japanese Government in China. The beautiful Chia Chi is chosen to take on the undercover role of Mrs Mak, the elegant wife of the owner of a Hong Kong based trading company, she insinuates herself in the social circle of Mrs. Yee (Joan Chen). She catches the eye of Mr. Yee and tries to lure him into a location where he can be assassinated. Yee is attracted to Chia Chi and once steps very close to the trap but withdraws at the last minute. It comes to light that Chia Chi is still a virgin, and she reluctantly consents to sleeping with Liang Jun-Sheng, another student involved in the plot to kill Mr. Yee, in order to play into her role as a married woman if she were to sleep with Mr. Yee. It is obvious that Kuang is upset by this, but nevertheless agrees to the two "practicing" every following night. But not long after that, Mr. and Mrs. Yee moves back to Shanghai all of a sudden, leaving the students with no further chance to complete their assassination plan. With Yee gone, the university students believe there is no need to maintain the facade and therefore pack up and clean up the rented apartment. An armed subordinate of Yee turns up in their apartment unannounced and finds their sudden packing very suspicious. Spotting their university tanktops, the subordinate realises that "Mr. & Mrs. Mak" are not who they claim they are. The university students kill the subordinate and are forced to go into hiding afterward.

Shanghai, Republic of China, 1942

In Shanghai, three years later, Chia Chi again encounters Kuang, who is now an undercover agent of the Government of the Republic of China seeking to overturn the Japanese occupation force and their puppet government in China. He enlists her into a renewed assassination plan to kill Yee. By this time, Mr. Yee has become the head of secret police department under the puppet government and is responsible for capturing and executing resistance agents who are working for the Government of the Republic of China. Eventually, Chia Chi becomes the mistress of Mr. Yee. During their first encounter Yee is sadistic and violent, but over the weeks that follow their sexual relationship becomes very passionate and deeply emotional, but also very conflicted for both of them, especially for Chia Chi, who is setting her lover up for assassination.

When Chia Chi reports to her superior officer in the Chinese Republic government, she exhorts him to carry out the assassination soon, so that she will not have to continue her sexual liaisons with the brutal Yee, but the officer argues that the assassination needs to be delayed for strategic reasons. Chia Chi describes the inhuman emotional conflict she is in, on one hand sexually and emotionally bound to Mr. Yee and on the other hand part of a plot to kill him.

When Mr. Yee sends Chia Chi to a jewellery store with a sealed envelope, she is surprised to discover that he has purchased a large and extremely rare six carat pink diamond for her, to be mounted in a ring. This provides the Chinese resistance with a chance to get at Mr. Yee when he is not accompanied by his bodyguards.

The next time Chia Chi and Mr. Yee meet, she asks him to go to the jewellery store with her to collect the diamond ring. As they enter the shop, she notices several resistance agents waiting to spring the trap. But when she sees the magnificent ring, and experiences Mr. Yee's love for her, she is overcome by emotion and breaks down and urges him to flee. Mr. Yee runs out of the shop and is rushed away by his driver, and escapes the assassination attempt. By the end of the day most of the resistance group including Kuang and Chia Chi herself are captured. It is revealed that Mr. Yee's deputy has been aware of the resistance cell, but did not inform Mr. Yee, both because of Mr. Yee's relationship with Chia Chi and because the deputy had hoped to use this opportunity to catch the resistance cell leader. Mr. Yee, emotionally in turmoil, signs their death warrants and the resistance group members, including Chia Chi, are led out to a quarry and executed. In the last scene, Mr. Yee sits on Chia Chi's empty bed in the family guest room, and informs his wife that their house guest is gone, and that she should not ask any questions.


  • Tang Wei as Wong Chia-chi/Mrs. Mak (王佳芝/麥太太)
  • Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Mr. Yee (易先生)
  • Leehom Wang as Kuang Yumin (鄺裕民)
  • Joan Chen as Mrs. Yee (易太太)
  • Tou Chung-Hua (庹宗華) as Old Wu
  • Chin Kar Lok as Assistant Officer Tsao
  • Chu Chih-Ying (朱芷瑩) as Lai Xiujin (賴秀金)
  • Kao Ying-hsien (高英軒) as Huang Lei (黃磊)
  • Ko Yue-Lin (柯宇綸) as Liang Junsheng (梁潤生)
  • Johnson Yuen (阮德鏘) as Auyang Lingwen/Mr. Mak (歐陽靈文/麥先生)
  • Fan Kuang-Yao (樊光耀) as Secretary Chang
  • Anupam Kher as Khalid Said ud-Din
  • Shyam Pathak as Jewellery shopkeeper
  • Akiko Takeshita as Japanese Tavern Boss Lady
  • Hayato Fujiki as Japanese Colonel Sato

Releases and awards

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, the second such award for Ang Lee. It was released in U.S. theaters on September 28, 2007, where it has been rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America due to graphic sexual content. Lee has stated that he will make no changes to attempt to get an R rating.[2] After the movie's premiere, director Ang Lee was displeased that Chinese news media (including those from Taiwan) had greatly emphasized the sex scenes in the movie.[3] The version to be released in the People's Republic of China has been cut by about seven minutes (by the director himself) to make it suitable for younger audiences, since China has no rating system.[4][5] The version released in Malaysia is approved by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia without alterations and is rated 18SX—those under 18 are barred from the cinema. His earlier film Brokeback Mountain is banned in Malaysia.

It swept the 2007 Golden Horse Awards by winning seven Awards, including Best Actor, Best Feature Film and Best Director.

44th Golden Horse Awards

  • Won: Best Film
  • Won: Best Director (Ang Lee)
  • Won: Best Actor (Tony Leung Chiu Wai)
  • Won: Best New Performer (Tang Wei)
  • Won: Best Adapted Screenplay (Wang Hui-Ling and James Schamus)
  • Won: Best Makeup & Costume Design (Pan Lai)
  • Won: Best Original Film Score (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year (Ang Lee)
  • Nominated: Best Actress (Tang Wei)
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction (Lau Sai-Wan, Pan Lai)
  • Nominated: Best Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto)
  • Nominated: Best Editing (Tim Squyres)

27th Hong Kong Film Awards

  • Won: Best Asian Film (Ang Lee)

65th Golden Globe Awards

  • Nominated: Best Foreign Film

61st British Academy Film Awards

  • Nominated: Best Costume Design (Pan Lai)
  • Nominated: Best Foreign Film (Ang Lee, James Schamus, William Kong)
  • Nominated: Rising Star Award (Tang Wei)

2nd Asian Film Awards

  • Won: Best Actor (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai)
  • Nominated: Best Film
  • Nominated: Best Actress (Tang Wei)
  • Nominated: Best Composer (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Nominated: Best Director (Ang Lee)
  • Nominated: Best Screenwriter (Wang Hui-Ling and James Schamus)

The film was nominated for the Best Film in a Foreign Language Bafta in 2008.



In its uncut form, Lust, Caution features three episodes of graphic sex, with full-frontal nudity. The ten minutes of sex scenes were considered by Lee to be critical to the story and reportedly took a grueling 100 hours to shoot.[6]

In a number of countries, notably the People's Republic of China and (initially) Singapore, many of the sex scenes had to be cut before the film could be released. In Singapore, while the producers initially released a cut version which was given an NC-16 rating, a public outcry on the perceived "immaturity" of Singaporean audiences compared to their Hong Kong and Taiwan counterparts (the film was released uncut in Hong Kong and Taiwan) prompted the producers to eventually release the uncut version, this time with a higher R-21 rating.

The following scenes were cut from the mainland China version:

  1. Wong Chia Chi walking past dead refugees in street
  2. Stabbing scene cut to only one knife stab
  3. Of the five sex scenes (two with student, three with Mr. Yee), the second one with student and the third with Mr. Yee
  4. Nude shot of Wong Chia Chi at window
  5. Wong Chia Chi on bed after first sex scene with Mr. Yee
  6. Dialogue modified in diamond ring scene so that Wong Chia Chi did not betray the resistance by warning Mr. Yee.[7]


The film was coproduced by the American companies Focus Features and River Road Productions, and Chinese companies Shanghai Film Group Corporation and Haishang Films and the Taiwanese Hai Sheng Film Production Company. The director is Ang Lee, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and the actors/actresses are from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as well as the United States. It was shot in Shanghai, the neighboring province of Zhejiang, Hong Kong (at Hong Kong University), and some locations in Penang and Ipoh in Malaysia disguised as 1930s/1940s Hong Kong.

Originally, the movie's country was identified as "China-USA" by the organizers of the Venice Film Festival, but after a complaint from Ang Lee's office, it was changed to "Taiwan".[8] However, a few days later, the Venice Film Festival changed the film to "USA-China-Taiwan, China" on its official schedule.[9] When the movie premiered at the event, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council protested the Venice event's use of "Taiwan, China" to identify movies from the island and blamed China for the move.[10][11]

After the premiere of the movie, Taiwan submitted the film as its best foreign film Oscar entry. However, Oscars asked Taiwan to withdraw the film because some key crew members were not locals. Oscars spokeswoman Teni Melidonian said in an e-mail organizers refused to accept the movie because "an insufficient number of Taiwanese participated in the production of the film," violating a rule that requires foreign countries to certify their locals "exercised artistic control" over their submission.


On September 13, 2007, an elderly lady Zheng Tianru staged a press conference in Los Angeles, claiming that the movie was about real-life events that happened in World War II, and wrongfully portrayed her older sister, Zheng Pingru, as a promiscuous secret agent who seduced and eventually fell in love with the assassination target Ding Mocun (she alleges that the characters were renamed to Wang Jiazhi and Mr. Yee in the movie).[12] Taiwan's investigation bureau confirmed that Zheng Pingru failed to kill Ding Mocun because her gun jammed, rather than developing a romantic relationship with the assassin's target.[citation needed] Director Ang Lee maintains that Eileen Chang wrote the original short story about herself, not about a real historical event.[13]

Critical reception

As of January 17, 2008 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 70% of all critics gave the film positive reviews, while scoring 75% among RottenTomatoes-designated "Top Critics".[14] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 34 reviews.[15]

Jack Mathews of the New York Daily News named it the 5th best film of 2007.[16] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times named it the 6th best film of 2007.[16]


It has been noted by critics (including Bryan Appleyard[17]) that the Hong Kong sequences in the film set in the late 1930s[18] include "London taxis" of two types (FX3, FX4) that were only manufactured onwards from 1948 and 1958 respectively.[19]

Box office

Lust, Caution was produced on a budget of approximately $15 million.[20]

In Hong Kong, where it played in its full, uncut version, Lust, Caution grossed US$6,249,342 (approximately $48 million HKD) despite being saddled with a restrictive "Category III" rating (the Hong Kong equivalent of NC-17). It was the territory's biggest-grossing Chinese language film of the year, and third biggest overall (behind only Spider-Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).[21]

The film was also a huge success in China, despite playing only in a heavily-edited version. It grossed US$17,109,185, making it the country's sixth highest-grossing film of 2007 and third highest-grossing domestic production.[22]

In North America, the NC-17 rating which Lust, Caution received is traditionally perceived as a box office "kiss-of-death". In its opening weekend in one U.S. theatre, it grossed $63,918.[20] Expanding to seventeen venues the next week, its per-screen average was $21,341, before cooling down to $4,639 at 125 screens.[23] Never playing at more than 143 theatres in its entire U.S. run, it eventually grossed $4,604,982.[23] As of August 15, 2008, it was the fifth highest-grossing NC-17 production in North America.[24] Focus Features was very satisfied with the United States release of this film.[1]

Worldwide, Lust, Caution grossed $64,574,876.[20]

Home media

In the United States, two DVD versions of this film were released: the original NC-17 version and the censored R-rated version.[25]

This film has generated more than $24 million from its DVD sales and rentals in the United States,[20][26] an impressive result for a film that only grossed $4.6 million in limited theatrical release in the United States.[20]


  1. ^ The awards of the Venice Film Festival on the Festival's site
  2. ^ Goldstein, Gregg (2007-08-24). "Focus won't sweat NC-17 for 'Lust'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  3. ^ "媒體猛炒性愛 李安痛心" (in Chinese).,4434,content+110511+112007090300232,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  4. ^ "No sex scenes in China's version of Lust, Caution". CBC News. 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  5. ^ ""Lust" to be shown in China after cuts". Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  6. ^ 'Fang' Lee: cruel but true - Film - Entertainment -
  7. ^ Lee admits 'political edit' of film
  8. ^ "威尼斯影展將《色‧戒》當大陸片經李安抗議後改為台灣代表" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  9. ^ "64th Venice Film Festival - In Competition". Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  10. ^ "Taiwan protests Chinese credit for Ang Lee's movie at Venice festival". Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  11. ^ "Venice Film Fest faces faux pas over Taiwan". Retrieved 2008-02-09. 
  12. ^ "色‧戒」影射鄭蘋如?鄭家人不滿" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  13. ^ "湯唯情欲戲被指褻瀆烈士 <色戒>遭原型家人聲討" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  14. ^ "Lust, Caution - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  15. ^ "Lust, Caution (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  16. ^ a b "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  17. ^ Appleyard, Bryan (2008-01-21). "A Protocol Problem and the Lust Caution Taxi". Thought Experiments: The Blog. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  18. ^ See (WMV) Lust, Caution (clip). [Motion picture]. Focus Features. Retrieved 2008-08-16.  (5.2 MB)
  19. ^ "The FX series". LTI Vehicles. 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  20. ^ a b c d e "Lust, Caution". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  21. ^ "Hong Kong Yearly Box Office (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  22. ^ "China Yearly Box Office (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  23. ^ a b "Lust, Caution - Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  24. ^ "Domestic Grosses by MPAA Rating - NC-17". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  25. ^ Foster, Dave (2007-12-30). "Lust, Caution (R1) in February - Artwork Updated". DVD Times. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  26. ^ Hendrix, Grady (2008-04-23). "Dirty DVD sales". Kaiju Shakedown blog. Variety Asia.,com_myblog/show,5955. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 

External links

Preceded by
After This Our Exile
Golden Horse Awards for Best Film
Succeeded by
The Warlords
Preceded by
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Asian Film
Succeeded by

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address