Much will be said about this film about its erotic scenes, but overlooking their quality (and their need to understand the relationship between the main characters), Ang Lee gifts us with ‘Desire, Danger’, a film with the aroma of classic cinemagiving us another great work with a short story as a base, this time by the Chinese author Eileen Chang, as was the case with ‘Brokeback Mountain’.
Ang Lee wants to tell us about the awakening to maturity of a group of university students during World War II, amateur actors, in a time as complicated as China occupied by the Japanese armies. And about that start, talk about the relationship with collaborators in times of war. The plot takes place over a period of four years, in which we see how the relationship between Wong Chia Chi (newcomer Tang Wei) and the traitor Mr. Yee (Tony Leung) develops, which from cheating becomes desire and at the same time in danger for both protagonists.
The narrative revolves around the seduction process that takes place between the two protagonists, or specifically Mr. Yee’s desire to possess the woman who fascinates him so much. And it is at the same moment that Tony Leung appears on the screen (this actor’s talent is so great, that only with his eyes is he able to compose his character, the cold and insensitive traitor, but who cannot resist falling in love) , when it gives another twist to the story they are telling us and goes up a step, to enter their game, to live with them desire and danger.
But also, Ang Lee knows how to pave the way and show us a story that draws on old movies, the dramas of impossible and unwanted relationships, the hardships that the characters must go through (from the loss of virginity to deceive the traitor, until ending up believing the imposture and the role of lover), which ends up being a perfectly set period portrait. Because it is nothing more than recreating a struggle between the obligation to fulfill your duty to your country, and the irrepressible desire that makes you fall on your knees before it.
If, as I already indicated, the film talks more about erotic scenes, explicit and violent in their own way, in a struggle to master desire and avoid danger, Ang Lee shoots them as both characters would feel, without gestures. at the beginning, with necessity at the end, completely, to see how gradually that heartless Mr. Yee cannot turn his back on what he dictates. Not like her, Wong Chia Chi or Mrs. Mak, can she face the power that this being, whom she sees as a traitor, ends up dominating her body and his mind. And it is at the end of the last erotic sequence, in the details of two bodies delivered, when we understand that the two lovers have already surrendered to the desire of the other person, and they do not see the danger that this implies for them, that they have fallen in love but they don’t know how to see it.
But there is also explicit violence, in what for me is the best scene in the film, which marks the climax of it (and curiously there is no Tony Leung, who sets the pace for the second part of the film), where the students Necessarily they have to learn to kill, without knowing how to do it, with what this entails in agony for the corpse. If I ever thought what this would be like, Ang Lee teaches me, and it’s important, because in Wong Chia Chi’s eyes it means losing innocence, and equating himself with the traitor he repudiates and desires, no matter how much he tries to flee from the mission he has entrusted That danger, that desire darkens you and that without remedy is your grave.
Ang Lee has marked out a path behind the industry’s back, and has taken risks again, without falling into the dangerous line of taking the erotic above the story. He did not fall for that desire in which many others end up. And movie lovers well appreciate it. As much as he has justly won the Golden Lion of Venice, we are before a work of high levels. Before a film that will endure the passing of the years. What some call the aroma of the classics.