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Temptress Moon (1997)

Action & Adventure, Art House & International, and Drama movie directed by Kaige Chen

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The film was not quite there for me

  • Jan 6, 2006
I must admit to being slightly disappointed in Temptress Moon. The film looks good. Gong-li always looks good. And the film does a good job showing the corruption in government and lifestyle that was the Nationalist Period. According to the film, The China of Chiang Kai-shek and the decadence of the period was not good for the people of China.

"Temptress Moon" has a lot of beautiful touches but essentially lacks a story. So much of this movie should have worked and just didn't. The premise of the young man, Zhong Liang escaping from his incestuous sister only to become a gigolo in Shanghai was fascinating. Unfortunately the story lost steam when Zhong Liang returned home to seduce his childhood acquaintance played by a mature, robust Gong Li. Somehow it doesn't add up when the thirty something year old Gong Li is referred to as "Gu Niang" (young girl). The innocence and naiveté she displays when she is being seduced by Zhong Liang is not believable. From the start she seems like a woman on the make, as though she never stopped playing the wile prostitute in "Farewell My Concubine". Similarly, the various layers of deception and sexual confusion in the film just lead nowhere.

Unfortunately, the film is quite slow. The film lacks those unforgettable moments of the many 5th Generations films. Don't get me wrong, the film is a good period peace and shows the horrors of Opium. But ultimately, it needed to move up a couple of notch's.

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October 12, 2010
Much as I like Gong Li, this may be her weakest movie IMHO. Seen Zhou Yu's Train?
More Temptress Moon (1997) reviews
review by . November 19, 2010
Chen Kaige creates another period masterpiece with TEMPTRESS MOON, the story of a wealthy family struggling to maintain their history on the outskirts of Shanghai.      Due to her brother's condition resulting from an addiction to opium (or so we're lead to believe), Ruyi (the ever glowing Gong Li) is granted leadership over the family fortune at a time when women were relegated to secondary roles. However, Zhongliang -- a close relation now grown up and playing a con …
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About this movie


Chen Kaige, the director ofFarewell My Concubine, returns with another sumptuous, if hard to follow, film about old China. Set in the decadent 1920s,Temptress Moontells the very complicated story of a wealthy family living on the outskirts of Shanghai. Their youngest daughter, Ruyi, is brought up as a servant to her opium-addicted father and brother. Meanwhile, her brother-in-law Zhongliang has a successful, if illegal, career seducing and blackmailing married women in the city. When he comes to Ruyi's home the two fall in love, and trouble ensues. Mostly, though,Temptress Moonis about beautiful images. The densely populated plot is basically an excuse for showing golden bells and bowls, pagoda roofs set against the moon, and richly woven carpets. More of a meditation than a movie,Temptress Moonis probably not as accessible or enjoyable as its critically acclaimed predecessorFarewell My Concubine, which may be a better place to start in the appreciation of contemporary Chinese cinema.--James DiGiovanna
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Director: Kaige Chen
Screen Writer: Kaige Chen, Anyi Wang, Kei Shu
DVD Release Date: July 2, 2002
Runtime: 130 minutes
Studio: Miramax
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