Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 101 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Shanghai, 1942. Japan's World War II occupation of this Chinese city continues in force. Mrs. Mak, a woman of sophistication and means, walks into a café, places a phone call, and then sits and waits. She remembers how her story began several years earlier, in China in 1938. She is not in fact Mrs. Mak, but shy Wong Chia Chi. With WWII underway, Wong has been left behind by her father, who has escaped to England. As a freshman at university, she meets fellow student Kuang Yu Min. Kuang has started a drama society to shore up patriotism, As the theater troupe's new leading lady, Wong realizes that she has found her calling, able to move and inspire audiences--and Kuang. He convenes a core group of students to carry out a radical and ambitious plan to assassinate a top Japanese collaborator, Mr. Yee. Each student has a part to play; Wong will be Mrs. Mak, who will gain Yee's trust by befriending his wife and then draw the man into an affair. Wong transforms herself utterly inside and out, and the scenario proceeds as scripted--until an unexpectedly fatal twist spurs her to flee. (Focus Features) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 35
  2. Negative: 2 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Lee has perfectly captured the details, textures, sights and sounds of a China caught between East and West, occupied by an ancient enemy and quaking on the eve of an earth-shaking revolution.
  2. 88
    The sex is REALLY hot. Not hardcore pornographic (at least by my definition of the term) but close.
  3. 75
    Film by film, Ang Lee, from Taipei out of the University of Illinois, has become one of the world's leading directors. This film was his second Golden Lion winner in three years at the Venice Film Festival. But it is not among his best films. It lacks the focus and fire that his characters finally find. Less sense, more sensibility.
  4. Set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II, Ang Lee's uneven new film is a bit like a Chinese variant on Paul Verhoeven's "The Black Book." The sex scenes in this otherwise overly prim period piece are extremely graphic.
  5. 60
    Running two hours and forty minutes, never finds the same balance: by the time he gets to the lust, it is too late to throw caution to the winds.
  6. Outside the bedroom, the wartime swirl of intrigue never develops beyond postcard imagery, however. This is one of the major disappointments of the film-going year.
  7. 30
    The sex scenes -- intense, affecting and emotionally raw -- are the best thing about this frustratingly limp movie.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 3 out of 25
  1. JodieF.
    Sep 30, 2007
    Lee has perfectly captured the details, textures, sights and sounds of a China caught between East and West, occupied by an ancient enemy and quaking on the eve of an earth-shaking revolution. Collapse
  2. aaw
    Jan 6, 2008
    "Lust, Caution," is a subtle, exquisite, touching masterpiece. My favorite movie of the year. Beautiful and painful. I nearly missed seeing this film-- don't make that mistake-- see it on the big screen-- definitely worth it. Expand
  3. TimC.
    Mar 10, 2008
    This is a great film if you understand Chinese language and the historic background. It kept me focused throughout the entire movie. Ang Lee knew that there could be cultural barrier for westerners watching this movie, for he said he cared most about how Taiwanese and Chinese people viewed the film. Sense of patriotism exhibited during the Japanese occupation and Chinese feeling about traitors is not easily appreciated. By the way, it is largely based on a true story. Expand
  4. LoraL
    Oct 22, 2007
    The movie was seductive and I became very wrapped up in the plot. I don't understand a couple of the comments about how raping a woman and giving her a diamond will make her fall in love with you. This unjustly summarizes what actually happened. By simplifying the plot in this crude manner, you ignore the psychological aspects. Mr. Yee and Wong's relationship was presumably Wong's only relationship and it's understandable that she would develop feelings for Mr. Yee. She even said that although she hated him, she could feel him slowly creeping into her heart. I really enjoyed the film despite the sub-titles. It's one of the better films I've watched this year. Expand
  5. Hollyc.
    Mar 28, 2008
    Lust,Caution is definitely worth seeing if you haven't already. Incredible immersion into WWII China and a group of young college dramatists who take an active role in resisting the Japanese occupation--but more importantly, the Chinese upper class who collaborate with the Japanese. Both Tony Leung and Tang Wei are absolutely stellar here. The characters these two become just stick with you--along with their complex relationship/story. The sex scenes were amazing--though I don't think they were matched with the same dramatic/suspense --it's almost as if they were too subtle with much of it--that's just my opinion, though I know others thought it was overt enough. I thought the ending, particularly, was perfect. Expand
  6. Feb 19, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. //Spoiler//
    Tony Leung was wonderful but Tang Wei was brilliant, you were able to feel her innocence, a naivee girl abandoned by every man without much say until she meets Mr.Yee. This time she choose to sacrifice herself for him out of love. These were characters with many flaws, broken human beings but love was their escape. Ang Lee carefully weaves you into their psychology and if you are willing can see that they were two very lonely people that found each other in the cold world that they were a part of. In each other they found a piece of themselves. They were able to feel and live again, even if it was for a short while. The ending has to be that way because that is the kind of survival world Mr.Yee lives in. Everyone does what they are suppose to do and take the consequences for their actions.
  7. JonN.
    Oct 15, 2007
    A very disappointing movie! I was offended on behalf of Asian women everywhere! The movie perpetuates dangerous stereotypes about Asian women, namely that if you rape them and then buy them a big diamond, they will be willing to betray their country and condemn themselves and their friends to death. This especially disappointing in light of the fact that in reality the Chinese woman spy in question didn't betray her country-she failed in her mission, only because her gun jammed! The truth would have made a much more compelling story! Do we really have to sit through another misogynistic movie which portrays Asian women as mindless sex-toys? Shame on you Ang Lee! I would expect this kind of drivel from Hollywood-but you are an Asian man! Professor Jon. Expand

See all 25 User Reviews