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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Lust Caution' or 'Se, jei')

Directed by Ang Lee
USA / China / Taiwan / Hong Kong  2007

 

Lust, Caution—do any two words define the central dichotomy of human existence more succinctly? No mere movie, perhaps, could live up to such a richly evocative title, and Variety’s review of Ang Lee’s new espionage melodrama—which won the top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival, just two years after Lee’s Brokeback Mountain nabbed the same award—was only the first of many to complain that the film’s caution-to-lust ratio is less than favorable. Far too much has been made, hype-wise, of its explicit, few-holds-barred, NC-17 sex scenes, which Lee unleashes only after roughly two hours of minutely observed PG parrying; clearly, early viewers anticipated more heedless thrusting and fewer close-ups of mah-jongg tiles. Nor does it help that the film’s sleeping-with-the-enemy plot is nearly identical to that of Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, which is comparatively stupid but much more trashy, lurid fun. Still, if you can adjust your expectations a bit, and look at Lust, Caution as the Asian equivalent of a first-rate Merchant-Ivory picture—literate, resolutely old-fashioned, maybe a tad stodgy—you’ll find that its emotional power sneaks stealthily up on you.

Stealth and sneakiness happen to be the watchwords of Wang Jiazhi (newcomer Tang Wei), who, when we first meet her, in Japanese-occupied Shanghai circa the waning years of WWII, appears to be the indolent, glamorous young wife of a prosperous businessman. In the extended flashback that makes up most of the movie, however, we discover that Wang is actually a fiercely patriotic former drama student who’s volunteered to seduce high-ranking collaborator Mr. Yee (Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung, best known here from Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love and 2046), who’s reputed to be in charge of interrogations that double as murders. Since Mr. Yee is always closely guarded, both physically and emotionally, Wang’s fellow actor-radicals determine that their only shot at an assassination is to lure him into the sort of rash, reckless behavior characteristic of a torrid affair. Mr. Yee isn’t easily conquered, however, and when Wang finally does succeed in bedding him, she discovers—to her initial horror, then to her illicit pleasure—that his sexual appetites mirror his brutal politics.

Excerpt from Mike D'Angelo's review at The Las Vegas Weekly located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 30th, 2007 - Venice Film Festival

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Universal (NC-17) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

BONUS Captures:

Also released the same day is the 9 minute shorter (edited) R-Rated version - (Rated R for strong sexual content and a scene of brutal violence)

       

Distribution Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:38:05  2:38:14 2:38:33.795
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.77 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,120,278,708 bytes

Feature: 47,064,729,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,196,045,758 bytes

Feature: 44,760,281,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.95 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate CJ Ent.:  Blu-ray

Bitrate Kino:  Blu-ray

Audio Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 5.1) LPCM Audio Chinese 6144 kbps
7.1 / 48 kHz / 6144 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 2747 kbps
7.1 / 48 kHz / 2747 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509
kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital EX Audio Chinese 640 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 1770 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1770 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -31dB

Subtitles English (CC), English, Spanish, French, None English, Chinese, Korean, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Featurette: Tiles of Deception, Lurid Affections (16:58)

DVD Release Date: February 19th, 200
8
Double-lock Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: CJ Entertainment

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,120,278,708 bytes

Feature: 47,064,729,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Featurette: Tiles of Deception, Lurid Affections (17:01)

• TV Spots
• Theatrical Trailer
• Photo & Poster Gallery

Blu-ray Release Date: September 26th, 2008
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,196,045,758 bytes

Feature: 44,760,281,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.95 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Eddy Von Mueller
• Tiles of Deception & Lurid Affections: Discover How Ang Lee's Passion Fueled Every Step of This Erotic Thriller -- From Recreating the Period to Directing the Talented Cast (16:59)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:50)

Blu-ray Release Date: March 30th, 2021
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Kino - Region 'A' Blu-ray - February 2021: Kino's new 1080P transfer of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution advances over the 2008 CJ Entertainment Blu-ray. It gains some depth in colors and contrast with a higher bitrate - also on a dual-layered disc. The CJ Ent. was in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio (opened-up) while the Kino is in the more accurate 1.85:1 losing a shade on the top and bottom of the frame. The Kino is both more authentic and marginally superior in terms of the HD video.

NOTE: This has an NC-17 designation on the back of the case and is listed as the '157-minute' version.  

NOTE: We have added 46 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE.

On their Blu-ray, Kino use a DTS-HD Master tracks (16-bit) in 5.1 surround or 2.0 channel stereo options. It is in the original Mandarin, Japanese, English, Shanghainese, Hindi and Cantonese languages. It is no where near the robustness of the CJ Entertainment audio transfers but exports some pleasing depth in the aggression and separations in the surround. The elegant score is by Alexandre Desplat (Heal the Living, Unbroken, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, The Ghost Writer, The King's Speech) supporting the film beautifully via the lossless. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray offer an audio commentary by Eddy Von Mueller. Early on he describes Lust, Caution as a 'delicious infuriating puzzle of a movie - a film made up of layer upon layer of contradictions, a film about naked truths and gaudy deceptions, poignant idealism, brutal cynicism, playing with the conventions of many cinematic genres - East and West - without adhering to any of them - even the title has multiple meanings.' Magnificent. Eddy uses some wonderful language to identify and observe many of the more subtle or rich details of the filmmaker's efforts. He was wonderful to listen to. It was an excellent commentary. Kino also include the 2008 Tiles of Deception & Lurid Affections: Discover How Ang Lee's Passion Fueled Every Step of This Erotic Thriller -- From Recreating the Period to Directing the Talented Cast running 17-minutes with input from Joan Chen, William Kong, Ang Lee, Tony Chiu-Wai Leungm Rodrigo Prieto, James Schamus, Leehom Wang and others. It is a revealing 'Making of..." featurette also found on the CJ Entertainment Blu-ray and Universal DVD. Lastly, is a trailer.  

I gained a new appreciation for Ang Lee's Lust, Caution thanks to Eddy Von Mueller's commentary. This is a rich, atmospheric, visually impressive period film. It speaks to feminine virtue fusing triumphant costumes, brilliant dialogue and Rodrigo Prieto's luscious cinematography (21 Grams, 25th Hour, Amores Perros) and the impressive Art Direction - creating a wonderful, enchanting, viewing experience holding revenge and many dirty secrets throughout. It is no better viewed than the new Kino HD presentation, which gets out highest recommendation!    

***

ADDITION: CJ Entertainment - Region FREE Blu-ray - June 09': While the DVD looked good - the Blu-ray exports a tremendously sexy image with colors, detail and especially depth making huge strides forward from SD. The consistent grain is much more readily apparent and does wonders for the presentation. Colors are tight and well defined (see lipstick and blood in captures below) with pastels supporting Lee's desired atmospheric era. Contrast is also strong with healthy black levels and overall the image quality, dual-layered transferred on the feature filling over 47 Gig of the allotted 50, produces viable and extremely impressive visuals. The friend who recommended this Korean Blu-ray (there is a Japanese but I'm unsure whether it has English subtitles) was spot-on as to the wonderful 1080P look. No complaints at all on the image-front.

We get three healthy audio options, each in original Mandarin: a linear PCM track at over 6100 kbps, 7.1, DTS-HD Master and a less dynamic Dolby Digital 6.1. The, tested, lossless PCM track was as strong as the image sounding very crisp in the high end with some subtler bass response. I certainly couldn't find anything to complain about - the track had excellent depth and range supporting some well-mixed surround functionality. There are optional English, Chinese or Korean subtitle options. This Blu-ray is region FREE as identified by my Momitsu player.

Aside from 2 very short TV spots, and a, kind of, unique posters/photo gallery - we also get the trailer and same 17-minute featurette Tiles of Deception, Lurid Affections as found on the DVD. It combines a 'making of...' including production and narrative details with input from Ang Lee, Rodrigo Prieto, Tang Wei and others. Lee gives some input on the production of art and being courageous, preparing actors etc. - it is fairly enjoyable.

This is a solid Blu-ray. I enjoyed my hi-def viewing even more than I was anticipating - it was great to revisit this film looking and sounding quite superior to the SD-DVD. This has a strong, thumbs-up, recommendation.

***

ON THE DVD (written Feb 2008): Simultaneously Universal are releasing both this NC-17 and a shorter (edited) R-Rated versions of Ang Lee's film. Yes, the NC-17 has some strong sexual content (graphic sex - occasionally forced) and a scene of brutal violence but I wouldn't say it was any more offensive than anything else I have seen from recent modern film. Two of the screen captures below can give you an idea of the potentially disturbing content sequences. Adults shouldn't be overly concerned, in my opinion.

This is a wonderful looking transfer with all the right attributes - color, contrast and sharpness which all get top marks (kudos to Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography and the detailed team of art directors). The only way I could see this looking better is in one of the new formats (HD or Blu-ray) but, being Universal, an HD is not yet scheduled. I suspect it would look spectacular. My only nitpicking flaw would be the subtitle font which seems a shade small (see sample below) and can move a bit quick at times. The Mandarin audio is perfect and rarely supportive of the 5.1 track with very few scenes of noted separation. There is also an optional French DUB in 5.1. Expectantly this SD DVD is progressive, dual-layered, and anamorphic in the film's original aspect ratio. It is coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard.

The only supplement is a 17 minute featurette entitled Tiles of Deception, Lurid Affections. It combines a 'making of...' including production and narrative details with input from Ang Lee, Rodrigo Prieto, Tang Wei and others. Lee gives some input on the production of art and being courageous, preparing actors etc. - it is fairly enjoyable.

I loved the film - wow - Lee's love affair with the locations and era are so evident in his cinema and the performances are magnificent. It is a very emotional and personal film and that evolves to be Lust, Caution's greatest strength. I strongly recommend.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Universal (NC-17) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal (NC-17) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal (NC-17) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal (NC-17) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

Box Cover

Coming to the US on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in March 2021:

BONUS CAPTURES:

Also released the same day is the 9 minute shorter (edited) R-Rated version - (Rated R for strong sexual content and a scene of brutal violence)

       

Distribution Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC CJ Entertainment - Region FREE - Blu-ray Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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