A: During the Japanese invasion of Shanghai in WWII, a college coed (Tang Wei) joins a drama club in Hong Kong, and soon finds herself working as an amateur spy for the Chinese Resistance. Her job is to sleep with a high powered politician (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and lure him to fall in love with her.
Q: Who’s in the movie?
A: Tang Wei, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Joan Chen, Lee-Hom Wang
Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?
A: Proceed with Caution. This movie is 2 1/2 hours long and would have benefited greatly from being at least 45 minutes shorter. A cut of that size would have kept the story moving at a nice clip, which would have in turn heightened the tension and the intrigue. If you want to see this story done right, rent last year's Paul Verhoeven film, Black Book.
Q: Will this movie make me laugh?
A: I can't think of how.
Q: Will this movie make me cry?
A: I don't see why.
Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?
A: It won the awards for Best Director and Best Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival. As far as the Academy Awards go, I'm sure they'll try to angle Ang Lee for another Best Director nod. But who they should really be gunning for is the lead actress, Tang Wei, who is spectacular.
Q: How is the Acting?
A: Tang Wei seems to have the entire range of human emotions at her fingertips and she knows exactly when to call on each of them.
Q: How is the Directing?
A: Ang Lee's style is distinct and recognizable. There is some wonderful work in the opening scenes, as he cuts between the fast paced Marj hon game and the four lady players gossipping as their chips hit the table. It moves well and sets a good pace. Unfortunately, in an effort to be dramatic, he slows it up in the later portions of the movie, when he would have been better served to cut to the chase.
Q: How is the story/script?
A: I have never said this before but... there was too much dialogue! Because the movie is in Chinese, I actually was not able to keep up with the words as they passed across the screen, and when I did keep up, I wasn't left with any time to look at the actors' faces to see who was doing the talking. Aside from that, I thought the nature of the main characters' feelings toward the man she is forced to sleep with were unclear. Does she love him? Does she hate him? Do I care? Oh, and I didn't feel satisfied by the ending.
Q: Is there anything else worth mentioning about the movie?
A: It's rated NC-17 due to sexual content, of which there is a fair amount. Something you might want to know in advance is that the sexual portrayal is for the most part violent and aggressive, rather than sensual.
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