Temptress Moon

Temptress Moon


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Chen Kaige's films are emotionally strong, visually powerful and politically scalding. Here he uses sex as a razor to open the veins of innocence.

Shanghai in the Twenties is flamboyant, amoral and dangerous. Seventy miles away, the region of Suzhou is quiet and repressed.

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After the death of his parents, Zhongliang is brought to the Pang estate at Suzhou by his sister, who has married the eldest son, Pang Zhengda, an opium addict. Zhongliang wants to go to Peking and be part of the new republican movement. Instead, he becomes Pang Zhengda's servant.

Ten years later, in 1921, after Pang Zhengda has been reduced to a vegetative state by a brain disorder, Zhongliang is in Shanghai, blackmailing rich women and working as a gigolo for a crime syndicate.

Pang Zhengda's sister, Ruyi, has become joint head of the estate with her cousin, a naive boy who is infatuated with her. Zhongliang is sent back to Suzhou to seduce Ruyi, resulting in violence and enflamed passions.

Kaige uses opium as the catalyst and melodrama as a means of expression.

His use of the camera is exquisitely sensual and the performances of Leslie Cheung, as Zhongliang, and Gong Li, as Ruyi, have a disturbing intensity.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2002
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Seduction, opium, betrayal and lust in southern China during the Twenties.
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Director: Chen Kaige

Writer: Shu Kei, Wang Anyi, Chen Kaige

Starring: Leslie Cheung, Gong Li, Kevin Lin, He Seifei, Xie Tian, Zang Shi, David Wu

Year: 1996

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Hong Kong/China


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