leeann.jpgIt seems that Chinese cinematography must go through these rites of passage before it reaches maturity. Though Chinese directors have successfully penetrated the Hollywood market with movies of traditional sword fighting and actors in flowing robes, they have to grapple with Western ideals and values to retain the serious interest of the Hollywood audience. While Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may arouse the interest of an international audience piqued by the mystique of China’s rising influence, the admiration is a passing fad. Thus, Ang Lee’s following movie, Brokeback Mountain, addresses the controversial issue of gays in the traditional setting of western or cowboy country. Gay rights is a major and thorny issue in the west though it is still largely kept under covers in the east. The hauntingly romantic and fresh perspective of the movie by a Chinese director earned the movie numerous accolades at the Oscars.

Ang Lee’s latest movie, Lust, Caution, addresses the issues of sex, lust and love. These are commonly portrayed in Hollywood fare but still relatively shocking and controversial in Chinese cinematography. While the conservative Chinese man or woman may be a myth in contemporary China, audiences are still generally not used to the idea of nude scenes in the cinema. Talented Hong Kong actor, Tony Leung, bared all in three daring scenes. The naked bedroom scenes with co-star, Tang Wei, were so raw and realistic that the Chinese grapevine spread the rumour that the sex might be real. Perhaps Chinese cinematography has to shed its clothes to grow out of the rut. Instead of run-of-the-mill kung fu movies, slapstick comedies, police stories, and dripping sweet love tales, it is now ready to address issues involving a range of real human desires and struggles. But movie directors, in the likes of Ang Lee, are few and far in between. Meanwhile, the Chinese movie industry will churn out many cheap pornographic scenes, purportedly licensed by the success of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution.