My next film after the vampires was a Chinese version of a classic French play Les liaisons dangereuses which has also been an excellent film in 1988 starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. I highly recommend the latter but only if you can sit through a play that has yet to capture me despite seeing it performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, great American actors (see above) and a couple of other performances including this one. I have to stop going to see it. At any rate the original is set in pre-revolutionary France and is supposed to show the moral decay of the aristocracy and how their games with one another’s love and affection backfires on them to demonstrate their disconnect from real human emotion. This one is set in pre-war, pre-communist revolution Shanghai (1931). The story is the same as two older and corrupted social dilettantes try to humiliate competitors by taking advantage of younger more naïve and uncorrupted lovers. The motivation and the overall story have no compelling element for me originally and this film even less so. I am not sure if it is that I don’t connect to dramatic Chinese acting or if it is the story itself but this was not a great film.
I will give credit for one element and that is set direction. The filming of 1931 Shanghai is very good and evocative but once the actors show up I am lost. The lead actress is Zhang Xia of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. If you loved her in that it might tempt you to go for this one.