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Lust, Caution

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Lust, Caution Chinese: 色,戒; pinyin: Sè, Jiè; Jyutping: Sik1Gaai3 is a 2007 erotic espionage thriller film directed by Ang Lee, based on the novella 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 the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival for the second time, the first being with Brokeback Mountain4 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


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Release
  • 4 Accolades
  • 5 Controversies
    • 51 Censorship
    • 52 Country of production
    • 53 Defamation
  • 6 Critical reception
    • 61 Anachronisms
  • 7 Box office
  • 8 Home media
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links


Hong Kong 1938

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, a shy, inexperienced university student, Wong Chia Chi, travels from Shanghai to Hong Kong and attends her first year at Lingnan University A male student, Kuang Yu Min, invites her to join his patriotic drama club, and soon she becomes a lead actress, inspiring both her audience and her colleagues Inspired by the troupe's patriotic plays, Kuang persuades the group to make a more concrete contribution to the war against Japan He devises a plan to assassinate Mr Yee, a special agent and recruiter of the puppet government of Wang Jingwei set up by the Japanese Government in China The beautiful Chia Chi is chosen to take on the undercover role of "Mrs Mai", the elegant wife of a trading company owner She manages to insert herself in the social circle of Mrs Yee

Chia Chi catches the eye of Mr Yee and tries to lure him to a location where he can be assassinated Chia Chi is still a virgin, and she reluctantly consents to sleeping with another student involved in the plot in order to practice her role as a married woman if she were to sleep with Yee Kuang, who has feelings for Chia Chi, is upset by this, but agrees to the arrangement Attracted to Chia Chi, Yee nearly falls for the trap but withdraws at the last minute Soon after, Mr and Mrs Yee suddenly move back to Shanghai, leaving the students with no further chance to complete their assassination plan While they are preparing to disband, an armed subordinate of Yee turns up unannounced and tells them he is aware of their plans After a violent struggle, the university students kill the subordinate and then go into hiding

Shanghai 1942

Three years later in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, Chia Chi again encounters Kuang, who is now an undercover agent of the KMT secret service the Juntong, which is seeking to overturn the Japanese occupation force and their puppet government He enlists her into a renewed assassination plan to kill Yee By this time, Yee has become the head of the secret police department under the puppet government and is responsible for capturing and executing Chinese resistance agents who are working for the KMT Eventually, Chia Chi becomes Yee's mistress During their first encounter, Yee has very rough sex with her Over the next few weeks, however, their sexual relationship becomes very passionate and deeply emotional, which causes conflicting feelings in Chia Chi who is still involved in the assassination plot

When Chia Chi reports to her KMT superior officer, she exhorts him to carry out the assassination soon, so that she will not have to continue her sexual liaisons with Yee, but she is told that the assassination needs to be delayed for strategic reasons Chia Chi describes the inhuman emotional conflict she is in—sexually and emotionally bound to a man who she is plotting to assassinate When Yee sends Chia Chi to a jewellery store with a sealed envelope, she discovers that he has arranged for 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 Yee when he is not accompanied by his bodyguards

Soon after, Chia Chi invites Yee to accompany her to collect the diamond ring While entering the jewelry shop, she notices several resistance agents waiting outside When she puts on the ring and sees Yee's obvious love for her, she is overcome by emotion and quietly urges him to "Go, now" Understanding her meaning, Yee flees the shop and escapes the assassination attempt By the end of the day, most of the resistance group are captured Yee's deputy was aware of the resistance cell, but did not inform Yee because he hoped to use the opportunity to catch the resistance cell leader Emotionally in turmoil, Yee signs their death warrants and the resistance group members, including Chia Chi, are led out to a quarry and executed As the entire resistance group is forced to sit on their knees while the executioner take out their pistols , a sad Kuang who always loved Chia Chi looks at her with an accusatory look, as to say how could you do this to us Sometime later, Yee sits on Chia Chi's empty bed in the family guest room, while his wife asks him what is going on, since his secretary and 2 men took Chia Chi's belongings and some papers from his office Yee tells her to keep quiet and continue playing downstairs, to avoid letting anyone know that something is amiss


  • Tang Wei as Wong Chia-chi/Mrs Mai 王佳芝; Wáng Jiāzhī/麥太太; Mài-tàitai
  • Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Mr Yee 易先生; Yì-xiānsheng
  • Joan Chen as Mrs Yee 易太太; Yì-tàitai
  • Wang Leehom as Kuang Yumin 鄺裕民; 邝裕民; Kuàng Yùmín
  • Tou Chung-Hua 庹宗華; 庹宗华; Tuǒ Zōnghuá as Old Wu
  • Chin Kar-lok as Assistant Officer Tsao
  • Chu Chih-Ying 朱芷瑩; 朱芷莹; Zhū Zhǐyíng as Lai Xiujin 賴秀金; 赖秀金; Lài Xiùjīn
  • Kao Ying-hsuan 高英軒; 高英轩; Gāo Yīngxuān as Huang Lei 黃 磊; 黄 磊; Huáng Lěi
  • Lawrence Ko 柯宇綸; 柯宇纶; Kē Yǔlún as Liang Junsheng 梁潤生; 梁润生; Liáng Rùnshēng
  • Johnson Yuen 阮德鏘; 阮德锵; Ruǎn Déqiāng as Auyang Lingwen/Mr Mak 歐陽靈文; 欧阳灵文; Ōuyáng Língwén/梁潤生; Mài-xiānsheng
  • Fan Kuang-Yao 樊光耀; Fán Guāngyào as Secretary Chang
  • Anupam Kher as Hali Salahuddin
  • Shyam Pathak as Jewellery shopkeeper
  • Akiko Takeshita 竹下 明子 Takeshita Akiko as Japanese Tavern Boss Lady
  • Hayato Fujiki as Japanese Colonel Sato


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 US theaters on September 28, 2007, where it was rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America due to some explicit sex scenes Lee stated that he would make no changes to attempt to get an R rating5 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 movie6 The version released in the People's Republic of China was cut by about seven minutes by the director himself to make it suitable for younger audiences, since China has no rating system7 The version released in Malaysia was approved by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia without alterations and was rated 18SX—those under 18 are barred from the cinema His earlier film Brokeback Mountain is banned in Malaysia It was released on DVD in 2008 with an R-rating since rental outlets and stores do not carry NC-17 titles


Won: 2007 Golden Lion International Venice Film Festival Award

The film swept the 2007 Golden Horse Awards, winning seven including Best Actor, Best Feature Film and Best Director

44th Golden Horse Awards8

  • 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 Hui-Ling Wang 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

44th Guldbagge Awards

  • Won: Best Foreign Film

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

Ang Lee was awarded Freedom of Expression award at the ShoWest convention for his decision to release the film in the United States uncut, rather than editing the film to avoid the MPAA's NC-17 rating9



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 100 hours to shoot10

In a number of countries, notably the People's Republic of China and India, many of the sex scenes had to be cut before the film could be released In Singapore, while the film's producers initially decided to release a cut version there which was given an NC-16 rating, a public outcry stating that the producers of the film were underestimating censorship standards in the country the film was released uncut in Hong Kong and Taiwan prompted them to eventually release the uncut version with the higher R21 rating in Singapore The film is rated R18 and was released uncut in New Zealand11

The following scenes were cut from the mainland China version:

  1. Wong Chia Chi walking past dead refugees in the street
  2. Stabbing scene cut to only one knife stab
  3. Two of the sex scenes featuring the student, and three featuring Mr Yee
  4. A nude shot of Wong Chia Chi at window
  5. Wong Chia Chi in 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 Yee12

The film's end credits ends with a 18 USC § 2257 notice13

Country of productionedit

The film was co-produced 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 US 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 used as 1930s/1940s Hong Kong

Originally, the film's country was identified as "China-USA" by the organizers of the Venice Film Festival However, a few days later, the Venice Film Festival changed the film to "USA-China-Taiwan, China" on its official schedule14 When the film premiered at the event, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council protested the Venice event's use of "Taiwan, China" to identify films from the island and blamed China for the move1516

After the film's premiere, Taiwan submitted the film as its Best Foreign Film Oscar entry However, the 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 film 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 movie17 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 targetcitation needed Director Ang Lee maintains that Eileen Chang wrote the original short story as fiction18

Critical receptionedit

As of February 19, 2017, on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 72% of critics gave the film positive reviews, the consensus said "Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a tense, sensual and beautifully-shot espionage film"19 On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 34 reviews20

Jack Mathews of the New York Daily News named it the 5th best film of 200721 Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times named it the 6th best film of 200721

The Chinese press gave generally positive reviews In analyzing how successful Lee's film was as an adaptation of Eileen Chang's short story, literary critic Leo Ou-fan Lee 李歐梵 wrote in Muse Magazine that he 'found his loyalties divided between Eileen Chang and Ang Lee But after three viewings of the film, I have finally opted for Lee because deep down I believe in film magic which can sometimes displace textual fidelity'22 In an earlier issue of Muse however, film critic Perry Lam had criticized Lee's direction: 'in his eagerness to make the movie appealing to a mass audience, Lee seems guilty of sentimentalism'23 Sentimental or not, there is certainly a palpable trace of Lee's sympathy for Chang's personal love life, “It was hard for me to live in Eileen Chang’s worldThere are days I hated her for it It’s so sad, so tragic But you realize there’s a shortage of love in her life: romantic love, family love” He added, “This is the story of what killed love for her”24


It has been noted by critics including Bryan Appleyard25 that the Hong Kong sequences in the film set in the late 1930s26 include "London taxis" of two types FX3, FX4 that were only manufactured onwards from 1948 and 1958 respectively27

Box officeedit

Lust, Caution was produced on a budget of approximately $15 million28

In Hong Kong, where it played in its entirety, Lust, Caution grossed US$6,249,342 approximately $48 million HKD despite being saddled with a restrictive "Category III" rating 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 Phoenix29

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 production30

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 US theatre, it grossed $63,91828 Expanding to seventeen venues the next week, its per-screen average was $21,341, before cooling down to $4,639 at 125 screens31 Never playing at more than 143 theatres in its entire US run, it eventually grossed $4,604,98231 As of August 15, 2008, it was the fifth highest-grossing NC-17 production in North America32 Focus Features was very satisfied with the United States release of this film33

Worldwide, Lust, Caution grossed $67,091,91528

Home mediaedit

In the United States, two DVD versions of this film were released: the original NC-17 version and the censored R-rated version34

This film has generated more than $24 million from its DVD sales and rentals in the United States,2835 an impressive result for a film that only grossed $46 million in limited theatrical release in the United States28

See alsoedit

  • Film in the United States portal
  • China portal
  • Hong Kong portal
  • Taiwan portal
  • 2000s portal


  1. ^ a b "LUST, CAUTION 18" British Board of Film Classification 2007-10-11 Retrieved 2012-12-02 
  2. ^ "LUMIERE : Film: Se, jie" European Audiovisual Observatory 
  3. ^ a b Lust, Caution at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ The awards of the Venice Film Festival on the Festival's site
  5. ^ Goldstein, Gregg August 24, 2007 "Focus won't sweat NC-17 for 'Lust'" The Hollywood Reporter Archived from the original on September 30, 2007 Retrieved September 9, 2007 
  6. ^ 媒體猛炒性愛 李安痛心 in Chinese Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  7. ^ "Ang Lee celebrates golden success of "Lust, Caution"" CNN December 21, 2007 Archived from the original on July 10, 2012 
  8. ^ "Lee film sweeps Taiwan 'Oscars'" BBC News 8 December 2007 Retrieved 25 November 2012 
  9. ^ Bowles, Scott "'Lust, Caution': Not just a movie title in NC-17 debate", USA Today, March 13, 2008
  10. ^ "'Fang' Lee: cruel but true" The Age Melbourne, Australia January 11, 2008 
  11. ^ http://wwwnzheraldconz/entertainment/news/articlecfmc_id=1501119&objectid=10488493
  12. ^ Lee admits 'political edit' of film
  13. ^ The notice reads: "18 USC § 2257 records custodian – Joyce Hsieh, custodian of records, Mr Yee Productions LLC, C/O Schreck Rose Dapello Adams & Hurwitz LLP, 1790 Broadway, New York, NY 10019 Date of publication: September 28, 2007

    The performers in this motion picture who are depicted engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and the characters that they portray therein, were all over 18 years of age at the time of photography The content is inappropriate for minors and appropriate care should be taken to ensure that it is not viewed by anyone under 18 years of age The records required by 18 USC § 2257 and associated regulations with respect to the motion picture on which this notice appears are kept by the custodian of the records at the office of the manufacturer above"

  14. ^ "64th Venice Film Festival – In Competition" Retrieved September 9, 2007 
  15. ^ "Taiwan protests Chinese credit for Ang Lee's movie at Venice festival" Archived from the original on January 15, 2013 Retrieved September 9, 2007 
  16. ^ "Venice Film Fest faces faux pas over Taiwan" CBC News August 28, 2007 Retrieved February 9, 2008 
  17. ^ 色‧戒」影射鄭蘋如?鄭家人不滿 in Chinese Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  18. ^ "湯唯情欲戲被指褻瀆烈士 <色戒>遭原型家人聲討" in Chinese Archived from the original on June 12, 2008 Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  19. ^ "Lust, Caution – Rotten Tomatoes" Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved March 31, 2011 
  20. ^ "Lust, Caution 2007: Reviews" Metacritic Retrieved October 30, 2007 
  21. ^ a b "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists" Metacritic Archived from the original on January 2, 2008 Retrieved January 8, 2008 
  22. ^ Lee, Leo Ou-fan November 2007 "Lust, Caution: Vision and revision" Muse Magazine 10: 96 
  23. ^ Lam, Perry October 2007 "Great expectations" Muse Magazine 9: 103 
  24. ^ Lim, Dennis August 26, 2007 "Love as an Illusion: Beautiful to See, Impossible to Hold" The New York Times 
  25. ^ Appleyard, Bryan January 21, 2008 "A Protocol Problem and the Lust Caution Taxi" Thought Experiments: The Blog brianappleyardcom Archived from the original on December 9, 2008 Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  26. ^ See Lust, Caution clip WMV Motion picture Focus Features Retrieved August 16, 2008 permanent dead link 52 MB
  27. ^ "The FX series" LTI Vehicles 2006 Archived from the original on June 24, 2008 Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  28. ^ a b c d e "Lust, Caution" Box Office Mojo Retrieved December 5, 2010 
  29. ^ "Hong Kong Yearly Box Office 2007" Box Office Mojo Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  30. ^ "China Yearly Box Office 2007" Box Office Mojo Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  31. ^ a b "Lust, Caution – Weekend Box Office" Box Office Mojo Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  32. ^ "Domestic Grosses by MPAA Rating – NC-17" Box Office Mojo Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  33. ^ Sperling, Nicole March 19, 2008 "Ang Lee and James Schamus Get Frank" Entertainment Weekly 
  34. ^ Foster, Dave December 30, 2007 "Lust, Caution R1 in February – Artwork Updated" DVD Times Retrieved August 16, 2008 
  35. ^ Hendrix, Grady April 23, 2008 "Dirty DVD sales" Kaiju Shakedown blog Variety Asia Archived from the original on June 6, 2008 Retrieved August 16, 2008 

External linksedit

  • Official website
  • Lust, Caution on Internet Movie Database
  • Lust, Caution at AllMovie
  • Lust, Caution at Box Office Mojo
  • Lust, Caution at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Lust, Caution at Metacritic
  • Proceeding with Caution
  • Kamiyama, Masuo February 20, 2008 "Steamy Shanghai period flick's feisty performers show plenty of lust, not much caution" Mainichi Shimbun Archived from the original on February 23, 2008 Retrieved February 20, 2008 
  • Lust, Caution Reviews – spcnettv
  • Ang Lee on making Lust, Caution
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

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