Frustrated in his attempts to assassinate Yee, who is an important official in Japanese-ruled Shanghai, Old Wu, who has lost his wife and two sons as well as two women who had attempted to seduce Yee, now recruits Kuang, Mai Tai Tai, and their troupe of drama students from Hong Kong University in yet another attempt to do away with Yee. Mai Tai Tai is chosen to befriend Yee, which she does by posing as the wife of Mak, befriending Yee's wife and her female friends, and then eventually befriending Yee himself. Even though both get together, they do end up going separate ways, only to meet again four years later. This time Mai is all set to entrap Yee at Chandni Chowk Jewellers which is owned by an East Indian man named Khalid Saiduddin. The question does remain: Will she and her troupe succeed? Written by
Eileen Chang first began writing the story in the 1950s. After being heavily revised by the author, it was eventually published in 1979. See more »
The story ends with Mr. Yee and Wong picking up the ring just after the mahjong game from the opening scene. During this game one of the ladies mentions a ring with a gemstone as large as an egg. While choosing the gem for the ring earlier in the story Wong refers to this remark which clearly takes place later on in the story. See more »
This film is about a woman enticing a top ranking official in the occupying Japanese government, in order to assassinate him.
I am very impressed by this film after just watching 5 minutes of it. The mahjong scene is very well made. Behind all the gossip, it has so much subtle tension. Everyone is secretly calculating another and planning their next move, both in the game and outside the game. Another striking thing that I noticed is that the panning motion of the camera. I am sure it is very tricky to get it right! A continuous shot of taking a piece of mahjong, then the hand of tiles, then throwing the unwanted one away. All done in one shot. It's really good camera work.
There is a lot of complex emotions, both expressed and implied. For example, Wang Jiazhi's pain of having to give up her virginity is skilfully implied. Later, her pain of being intimate with Mr Yee is expressed in a rage. The psychological games in the subsequent parts is well portrayed. Wei Tang is masterful in playing her role. She portrays a wide variety of facial expression and bodily gestures so naturally and skilfully. Her power of seduction is undeniable. The surreal atmosphere that she creates when she is Mai Tai Tai is stunning. I have never heard of her before, and I hope she will get to play in more film in the future.
Despite the film being two and a half hour long, it did not feel like it at all. In fact, I am glad that Ang Lee gives us enough time to appreciate the beauty of the film. The plot is gripping, and there is a lot to be pondered on. Men have to caution against lust, while for women, they may have to caution against something else. I will no reveal it here, watch the film to see for yourself.
This film is a beautiful masterpiece. Just a side note, the sexuality in this film is so extremely the polar opposite compared to Ang Lee's last film "Brokeback Mountain". I find this very interesting.
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