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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Strong drama sees weak DVD release

To say Ang Lee is a strange director would be an understatement. Some of his works include “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Hulk” and “Brokeback Mountain.” His ability to craft stories over various genres is a rare talent, and one that shines in his latest, “Lust, Caution.” Unfortunately, this good film is held back by a less than stellar DVD release.

The story takes place in China, during WWII, when Japanese forces were in control of the country. The film focuses on a group of students who try to assassinate Mr. Yee (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), a powerful Chinese politician who has joined the Japanese regime. They lure him into a trap by using one of their own, Wong Chia Chi (Wei Tang), as bait. She assumes a new role and slowly develops a relationship with Mr. Yee, becoming his mistress. However, Chia Chi begins to fall for him, complicating a situation that could jeopardize the lives of her friends, as well as her own.

“Caution” is a character-driven affair. For a near-three hour film, the story is not that intricate. But the focus isn’t on the story; it’s on the volatile relationship of Yee and Chia Chi. We see both of them struggling with their feelings.

Because of this focus, the pacing is sometimes slow, most notably in the beginning. Lee really takes his time developing characters, but if you make it to the end you will be rewarded. These are people that anyone can sympathize with, a testament to Lee’s ability to create memorable characters.

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Lee isn’t a stranger to controversy, and “Caution” is no exception. The film was banned in some countries because of the sex scenes. Stateside, it’s the second film ever to receive an NC-17 rating and still see a wide release.

The relationship between Yee and Chia Chi is completely explored, even during their most intimate moments, with an amazing level of attention and detail.

Yes, there are plenty of sex scenes in “Caution,” and most of these scenes go well beyond anything released in any Hollywood film. They’re graphic and brutal, but more than just a way for Lee to show us this relationship. These scenes are integral to the story. They develop the characters while demonstrating the conflicts that each has to overcome.

While the film may be another excellent work from Lee, the DVD is anything but that.

There is one feature – a making-of that runs 17 minutes. The mini-documentary demonstrates the passion everyone involved had for this project. While there is some interesting information, it’s hardly enough. It would be a pleasant complementary piece to a whole set of features, but on its own, it’s quite pathetic.

There isn’t even an audio commentary track, which has become a standard for DVD. It’s baffling, considering the painstaking detail put into this film.

Another disappointment comes from the DVD’s lackluster visuals. The video transfer is weak, unable to highlight the array of unique colors found in the sets and costumes. For a film that should be so pleasing to look at, it’s surprising to see such a low-quality transfer.

“Lust, Caution” is the perfect example of a good film with a poor DVD release. It’s worth a rental, but only dedicated fans of Lee’s work should purchase this featureless disc, otherwise they should wait for a double-disc collector’s edition.

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