Wong is a student in Hong Kong in 1938. As her drama troupe becomes involved with the effort to resist the Japanese, Wong infiltrates the social circle of Mr Yee, a hated collaborator, intending to facilitate his assassination. The action shifts to occupied Shanghai, 1941, as Wong becomes Yee’s mistress. The conflict inherent in their dangerous, passionate relationship gives the film both its emotional core, and its title: Lust, Caution. The closer Wong gets to Yee, the more vital she becomes to the resistance – and the more difficult her deceit becomes.
Directed by Ang Lee, Lust, Caution is a brilliant, intense, and moving piece of cinema. It melds espionage, romance, noir and war into a seamless, epic whole that has rightly been hailed as his masterpiece. The acting is superb, the cinematography sumptuous, and the story astoundingly powerful. Most of the publicity surrounding the film may have centred on its sex scenes, but that is unfair. While they are undeniably explicit, and sometimes shocking, these scenes reveal far more than just naked flesh. Indeed, they say far more about Yee and Wong than simple dialogue ever could. Lust, Caution is a remarkable achievement. Watch the trailer here.