Lust, Caution (2007)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Cast: Tony Leung, Tang Wei, Joan Chen

Synopsis: Set in Hong Kong and Shanghai during the Japanese occupation, a group of student actors plot to assassinate a high-ranking special agent and recruiter of the puppet government using an attractive young woman to lure him into a sexy trap…but not a pussy trap which I just learnt is actually a thing. Thanks Urban Dictionary.

One of my favourite things about living in London is my commute to and from work. The journey takes me about 50 minutes and, during that time, I get the chance to read. So far this year I have gone through 22 books. One of the books I read was the novella Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang. I was not sure what to expect but I had heard good things and, to my pleasure, I found the novella to be an enjoyable little espionage thriller about an attempted political assassination by a group of university students living in Japanese occupied China and Hong Kong. Ang Lee’s movie adaptation expands on the story and injects some pretty steamy and graphic sex scenes but it ultimately remains true to the underlying work. Lust, Caution the film is tense, intelligent, stylish, and brutal all at the same time, ensuring a multi-layered, and perhaps bi-polar, viewing experience.

I say that the film creates a somewhat bi-polar viewing experience because it toys with your emotions in the same way that killer whales toy with their prey (I apologize for the whale simile but I watched Black Fish last night and all I can think about is killer whales, their schlongs and sandwich bags). Lust, Caution juxtaposes scenes of style and romance with shocking scenes of brutality and takes your emotions on a roller coaster ride. It’s hard to know what you’ll feel in the next scene and the feeling of unease mirrors the emotional struggle that grips the film’s central character who is expertly played by Tang Wei. Much like Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love, Wei is a master at conveying emotion with only the slightest of movement. Whether it’s lighting a cigarette or putting on perfume, Wei captivates and oozes sensuality, mystery, and conflict.

When the movie was released it garnered a lot of attention because of its explicit sex scenes. I must say that I was surprised by how far the sex scenes actually went. I can’t be sure but I’m pretty sure I saw Tony Leung’s nut-sack get a licking. The sex scenes never felt unnecessary though. They added an element of aggression and, if anything, they helped me sympathize more with Tang Wei’s character and understand her central conflict.

This is definitely a movie that will split opinion. For many, the violence and brutality will seem excessive and demeaning. In addition, the movie presents an unusual and dangerous instance of a woman falling in love with someone who could technically be described as a rapist. In terms of sheer balls though (both literal and figurative) this movie really does have them: it has a sense of purpose and it really sticks it to the audience. Even if you don’t like this movie, you have to hand it to Ang Lee for creating a movie that doesn’t pull any punches.


  • The caliber of the acting, particularly from Tang Wei. The scene where she sings in the Japanese restaurant was particularly good.
  • Mmmhmm that be some fancy bling she got on her finger.
  • I fucking love Chinese clothes in this time period. It just screams sophistication.
  • One of the characters mentioned congee which I love! I went out to Chinatown the next day and got some and it was gooood.


  • The film is brutal. The scene with the communal stabbing was particularly harrowing.


A twisted and shocking espionage-romance, Lust, Caution fucks you upside the head with a barrage of tension and tea-bagging. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes complex characters in their movies. This is not a movie that you will umm and ahh about: it will elicit some kind of gut reaction from you and it will be a strong one. I advise you to take the risk, watch the movie, and find out for yourself whether that reaction is positive or negative.



1 Comment

Filed under Drama, Great, Romance

One response to “Lust, Caution (2007)

  1. similar conflict as Hitchcock’s Notorious, wouldn’t you say? Of course in 1946, you couldn’t show all that so it kind of made me think of what Ingrid Bergman was doing when she was trying to intercept Claude Reins… just a thought.

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