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Lust, Caution (2007)

Se, jie (original title)
During World War II era, a young woman, Wang Jiazhi, gets swept up in a dangerous game of emotional intrigue with a powerful political figure, Mr. Yee.



(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 24 wins & 51 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Yee (as Tony Chiu Wai Leung)
Old Wu
Lai Shu Jin (as Chih-ying Chu)
Huang Lei
Liang Jun Sheng (as Ko Yu-Luen)
Johnson Yuen ...
Auyang Ling Wen / Mr. Mak
Ma Tai Tai
Hsiao Tai Tai
Ruhui Song ...
Wang's Aunt
Khalid Saiduddin
Leung Tai Tai


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 rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Trap is Set. See more »


Drama | Romance | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |

Release Date:

26 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lust, Caution  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$63,918, 30 September 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,602,512, 20 January 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ang Lee said that directing the explicit sex scenes was more difficult than directing the complicated fighting scenes in _Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)_. See more »


At the beginning, when Mr. Yee is being driven from his office to his home, the position of the parked windshield wiper blades shifts from scene to scene although it is not raining. See more »


Referenced in At the Movies: Summer Special 2008/09 (2008) See more »


Dinner Waltz
Performed by Traffic Quintet (as Traffic String Quintet), Dominique Lemonnier, Philippe Noharet, Raphaël Perraud, Anne Villette, Estelle Vilotte
Composed by Alexandre Desplat
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Ang Lee's masterpiece, Cultural nuances in the way of understanding
16 April 2008 | by See all my reviews

Ang Lee's Lust, Caution got a lot of negative reviews in the US. I was shocked. I always thought Lee, of all people, could convey the nuances of Chinese culture to a Western audience.

I admit I love this movie, as I do all his work, except The Hulk. And I'm not implying you have to give it the thumbs-up because it won the Golden Lion. However, after reading dozens of reviews from mainstream media in North America, I have a strong feeling that most critics failed to understand the movie - not only the subtleties, but even some of the plot. Of course, the two are often interconnected.

Rex Reed of The New York Observer called Mrs Yee "silly" because he assumed she is oblivious to her husband's trysts with other women. This couldn't be further from the truth. From how she reacts to her husband's emotional breakdown in the last scene, it is obvious she is in the know. There are Chinese wives who feign ignorance of their husbands' affairs, and this is probably something an American film critic cannot grasp. Shouldn't she be throwing a tantrum? They might ask.

Rex continues: "Neither of the two stars look like they're having much fun." I wonder what movie he was watching. Of course they were not having fun. This is not a romantic comedy. The lady is scheming to kill him, and he is figuring out whether she is another beautiful assassin sent his way. They are both walking on razor's edge, which is not a fun activity.

Most critics call the movie a spy thriller without realizing the multiple layers of the story. It is mostly psychological, with the two leads constantly testing each other and using a language rich in undertones. Almost every line has so much texture it could take a few more lines to decipher.

Many see a resemblance with films of similar plots, such as Paul Verhoeven's Black Book and Hitchcock's Notorious. But they fail to see the link to previous Lee masterpieces such as Sense and Sensibility and Brokeback Mountain. Think of it. "Lust" is "sensibility" while "caution" is "sense". Both leads - and even some of the supporting characters - have to maintain a life of caution for self-survival. When they succumb to lust or passion, they pay the ultimate price.

The three sex scenes received such widespread misinterpretation that trimming them might not be the terrible idea it should be. People got so carried away with the S&M and acrobatic couplings that they forgot to detect the symbolic meanings. The scenes epitomize their relationship, from domination, to distortion, to harmony. That's something a simple head shot could not convey. And it does not necessarily imply the lady loves to be tortured. That would be the same as saying she is a gold-digger who falls for a precious diamond.

The definite moment when she falls for him is at the Japanese club when he reveals his weakness. (He has a hunch his future as a collaborator is doomed.) She has a soft spot not for his power and money, but for the latent humanity he finally lays bare. The big stone just confirms his feelings for her, in her mind.

American critics are quick to pick up the clues of Hollywood movies that appear in the meticulously portrayed old Shanghai and have found an allusion to Hitchcock's Notorious, but nobody seems to have noticed that Mr Yee's every move is watched by his secretary, who knows his lover's secret identity and will probably bring about his downfall.

Human emotions writ large can transcend boundaries. It is the niceties that cause cultural misunderstandings.

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