Ang (Brokeback Mountain) Lee takes an audacious path with this ultra-Chinese story of WWII-era intrigue. It's basically an old-fashioned drama of forbidden love sprouting between a married Shanghai businessman collaborating with the Japanese occupation (the dependable Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and the young woman assigned by the Chinese resistance to seduce the collaborator and set him up for assassination (newcomer Tang Wei). Thus we go from drawing-room gossip and endless mahjong games (nice character work by actor Joan Chen) to graphic sex scenes with no body doubles, and one especially bloody murder. Dapper leading man Leung and delicate beauty Tang are particularly good as the phlegmatic lovers -- caution, lust under pressure â and director Lee's scene-setting is a marvel of pent-up erotic energy, with rich production values. He and writer Wang Hui Ling (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) adapted Eileen Chang's short story with style. Wang Leehom costars ably as a resistance man.
Director: Ang Lee
Writer: Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus and Eileen Chang
Producer: William Kong and Ang Lee
Cast: Tony Leung, Tang Wei, Joan Chen, Wang Leehom, Tou Chung Hua, Chu Jr Ying, Kao Ying Hsuan, Ko Yu Lien, Johnson Yuen and Chin Ka Lok