I saw the uncensored NC-17 version. I have not seen the 17 min of cut sex scenes which is apparently circulating around the internet. First off, I adore Ang Lee’s work. He is awesome at setting up a shot, and I think he may be my favourite Asian director ever. as he is able to reunite the East meets West. I like Wong Kar Wai too, but Lee has the ability to still capture me with his shots and storytelling. The sex scenes did not disturb me as much as I thought they would. Watching the movie, you wonder why Wong (played by the beautiful Tang Wei) is so committed to this undercover. Another observant blogger noted the character’s desire for fiction and to feel. It is indeed true that she only seems to really let go emotionally when acting on stage or escaping to the movies. Maybe it was because I recently saw All About my Mother, but it really did make me think of All About Eve, and those actresses who play actresses. It is such a difficult role to play, and just as with Eve, you get some of the real her, but not all of it. The performances were excellent in the film. Tony Leung is talented. Even though for most of the scenes in the film, he reminds me of Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List. I still feel pathos for the screwed up traitor because it’s Tony Leung. Wong Kar Wai once said that TL was like Jimmy Stewart due to his honest and nice babyface. That comparison has always stuck with me because TL is like Stewart; I’ve even seen him in his comedic TV days. It’s unnerving to watch him play such an intense and disturbing character.
There are also so many themes in this film. The art design is impeccable making it feel very authentic, and there seem to be many themes of the historical and political tensions running at the time both Communist and Nationalist. I liked Lee’s use of mirrors and reflections, and the moments when Wong is in a shot as if on a stage. An interesting film, and I hope AL goes back to doing more Asian films.