East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City) Reviews
A policeman (Jun) arrests a gay man (Han) caught prowling a public park after dark for sex. The officer basically molests and humiliates the man, ostensibly hoping to scare him away from public sex and his ?despicable? sexual orientation. But the victim senses something about the cop and arranges to get caught a second time. The policeman takes the prisoner back to his park-side headquarters and starts to question him about his homosexual past and predilections, asking for vivid details.
Though the arc of the story holds few surprises, the way it?s told is oddly alluring. The gay man senses his tale has some power over the officer, so he divulges information in spurts, jumping from story to story and throwing in Chinese folklore. Every so often, the gruff cop gets fed up and abuses the gay man, who we sense wanted it all along. It?s mild torture as aphrodisiac, replete with the occasional goofy, over-the-top sexual symbolism. (The prisoner is punished with a hose at one point, get it?)
Still, East Palace, West Palace is told with skill and subtle friction, turning the power of Chinese brutality into a method of subversive sexual arousal.