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"TEMPTRESS MOON"
(1996) (Leslie Cheung, Gong Li) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Moderate Minor Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Mild None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Mild Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A street hustler returns to the foster home where he grew up in an attempt to con a childhood playmate from her family's fortune.
PLOT:
In 1911, Zhongliang (LESLIE CHEUNG) is just a thirteen-year-old orphan boy when he goes to live with his older sister and her opium-addicted husband, Pang Zhengda (YEMANG ZHOU), who happens to be the Pang family heir. Instead of playing with Zhengda's younger sister Ruyi or her cousin, Duanwu, Zhongliang is forced to prepare opium pipes for Zhengda and into incestuous acts with his own sister. Zhongliang flees as soon as he's old enough and heads to Shanghai where he becomes a street hustler for the "boss" (XIE XIAN). Back home, Zhengda is now brain-dead, and his sister Ruyi (GONG LI), takes over the clan, much to the chagrin of old master Qi (GE XIANGTING). With the help of her now grown cousin Duanwu (KEVIN LIN JIANHUA), Ruyi begins changing the old ways of her family, although she continues with her opium addiction. When word gets out that Ruyi's in charge of the wealthy estate, Zhongliang's boss sends him back home hoping to con her out of the family's wealth. Zhongliang, however, soon falls for Ruyi and long forgotten memories return that hamper his ability to complete his mission.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of Chinese cinema (and especially "Farewell My Concubine"), it's extremely doubtful.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some intense images of sexuality and opium use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • LESLIE CHEUNG plays a street hustler whose life is setting up blackmail schemes against wealthy wives. While he starts to develop a conscience when dealing with Ruyi, it doesn't amount to much and thus he's not a good role model.
  • GONG LI plays the woman who takes over the family clan despite her continued opium smoking. She also sleeps with her cousin "to practice" for Zhongliang and thus isn't a good role model either.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    Directed by Chen Kaige, who also helmed "Farewell My Concubine," this is a powerful, yet slow moving film. While banned in its homeland for drug use and sexuality, this movie is relatively tame when compared to the majority of similarly other such R rated films. Beautifully photographed in colorful palettes and wonderfully lit scenes, the movie is a feast to watch. Even without the subtitles, most of the film can be understood by the telling use of the visuals. The acting is equally compelling with Cheung delivering a tremendous performance that carries the movie during its slow movements. And it's those that are the only real drawback to the film. With a pace that almost seems to have taken barbiturates itself, the film often moves at a slow lurch, and if not for the visually stunning scenes and good performances, would surely be a great disappointment. While it's nice to see a film that relies more on subtlety than in your face explosions and camera movement, this production could have used a faster moving plot. Those who liked "Farewell" will find this to be equally good, but it's doubtful it will find itself popular among the masses. Some people will be put off by the subtitles, and we have to agree as it's often difficult to watch the film and read the dialogue at the same time. Since movies are such a visual medium, especially in this instance, the subtitles often detract from the overall impact the film is trying to offer. Thus with a quicker pace and dubbed, instead of subtitled, dialogue we would have given this film a higher rating. As it is, we give it a 5 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    A subtitled Chinese film isn't going to be very attractive to younger audiences, so it's almost a sure bet that no children will want to see this film. Still, if a more mature teen is interested, here are the highlights. There is some smoking of opium, and while you'd think there was a great deal for the film to be banned in China, you must realize that it's a different culture, and not as used to seeing blatant drug abuse as in seen in American films. The same goes for sexuality, where this film comes off as rather bland compared to what's seen in most R rated films that contain sex scenes. Here, they come across as more sensual than sexual, which often makes them more erotic than straight nudity. Beyond a man being shot to death, just one use of the "f" word in the subtitles, some blackmailing criminal scenes, and some incestuous activity that's more implied than seen, the rest of the categories are rather tame in objectionable content.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • While some opium use is seen, it doesn't match as much as what's inferred, although Zhengda and Ruyi are both heavy users.
  • It's quoted that "opium is the source of all inspiration" and at the very beginning we see Ruyi as a child. As opium smoke surrounds her, a pleasant smile covers her face.
  • Zhongliang's duty at his sister's home is to prepare opium for his brother-in-law, Zhengda, who says that opium is a "wonderful thing" and "like a poison" but that it's made him strong.
  • Zhongliang and a woman have some sort of drink while playing cards.
  • Zhongliang drinks several shots of liquor while with his boss.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Zhongliang has just a little blood on his head after Zhengda has pushed him to the floor.
  • Duanwu is a little bloody after a caning beating at the hands of Pang masters.
  • Though not seen, a woman throws herself from a balcony (suicide). Her dead body, however, is seen on the street, but isn't gory.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • While under the influence of opium, Zhengda continually wants Zhongliang to kiss his sister, and she sometimes encourages that as well. Later, with both as adults, she tells him to come and give her a kiss. In addition, Zhongliang is forced to prepare opium pipes for his brother-in-law.
  • Young thieves steal Zhongliang's luggage as he tries to catch a train.
  • Zhongliang works for a crime lord and, along with his partners, sets up married women in adulterous black mail schemes and often steals their jewelry in the process.
  • Granted this is a different time and culture, but the older male leaders of the family think that Ruyi, since she's female, will be a weak leader and thus assign Duanwu to assist her and they often second guess her actions.
  • Ruyi and Duanwu search through Zhongliang's belongings.
  • Zhongliang's boss, aware that his worker is softening under his attraction to Ruyi, calls for a set-up where Ruyi will observe first hand what Zhongliang does, and thus sever the attraction forever.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • As Zhongliang and a woman passionately make out, two other men race up and place hoods over their heads and tell the woman that Zhongliang is dead (he isn't -- they're just setting up a blackmail scheme) and this is done in another scene.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Guns: Seen being carried by soldiers.
  • Handguns: Used to shoot a man dead.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Ruyi, as a child, runs along and pulls all of the tablecloths from under games the adults are playing on the tables.
  • Zhongliang's sister takes two fish from a bowl and throws them to the floor where they gasp at the air.
  • Though not seen, a woman throws herself from a balcony (suicide). Her dead body, however, is seen on the street.
  • We learn that both Zhengda and Ruyi had their opium spiked with arsenic, thus causing their permanent brain damage.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is a mild amount of strangely suspenseful music in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 "f" word is seen in the subtitles.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Zhongliang and a woman passionately kiss, but are interrupted by his partners.
  • A couple has sex with some movement and passionate kissing, and while no nudity is seen, the man does touch the woman's clothed breast.
  • For sexual practice, Ruyi picks her cousin Duanwu and tells him, "I don't want to be a girl anymore." She then caresses his neck, and later she's seen on top of him, with lots of heavy breathing and sexual sounds, but nothing's seen.
  • Later, Zhongliang gets on top of Ruyi and she tells him, "I practiced with Duanwu for you." She then gets on top of him, but he gets up and walks away with her asking, "Don't you want me?" Moments later they're seen in a montage of shots showing them rolling around, but beyond some limited movement, nothing else is seen.
  • Some prostitutes solicit Duanwu as he and Ruyi walk down the street and later tell Ruyi that she can work with them and that they'll find her a customer (she doesn't).
  • Duanwu, who's attracted to Ruyi, sexually grabs her and throws her to the bed, but nothing happens.
  • SMOKING
  • People in the backgrounds of shot occasionally smoke.
  • One of Zhongliang's partners-in-crime often smokes.
  • Zhongliang takes a cigarette from a woman's mouth and smokes it himself.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Zhongliang is an orphan, but we never learn how or why, and he goes to live with his older sister and husband. Once there, he must endure some forced incestuous acts (implied).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The glorification of drugs, in this case opium.
  • What happened to both Zhengda and Ruyi. While it appears that they suffered permanent brain damage from heavy opium use (which may have contributed some), their opium was laced with poison.
  • The incestuous relationship between Zhongliang and his sister.
  • VIOLENCE
  • As Zhongliang and a woman passionately make out, two other men race up and place hoods over their heads and tell the woman that Zhongliang is dead (he isn't -- they're just setting up a blackmail scheme).
  • After Ruyi shuts down the family's concubines, the women there are upset and throw and break vases, etc...
  • One of the older masters repeatedly strikes Duanwu on the back with some sort of feathered stick.
  • Zhongliang throws his sister to the floor, and later breaks a vase in Ruyi's room.
  • Zhongliang's sister takes two fish from a bowl and throws them to the floor where they gasp at the air.
  • More Pang masters beat Duanwu on the back again with sticks.
  • Some prostitutes solicit Duanwu as he and Ruyi walk down the street. Zhongliang's partner, who's escorting the two, hits one of the prostitutes who then pushes him back.
  • Though not seen, a woman throws herself from a balcony (suicide). Her dead body, however, is seen on the street.
  • Ruyi slaps Duanwu after he tells a suitor that she slept with both him and Zhongliang.
  • We learn that both Zhengda and Ruyi had their opium spiked with arsenic, thus causing their permanent brain damage.
  • Zhongliang's sister smacks him after he admits to a crime he committed years ago against her husband.
  • A man is shot dead by several other men (not graphic and seen from a distance).



  • Reviewed June 13, 1997

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