Having watched enough Ang Lee's films to understand and get used to his genius touch on intimacy and humanism, I was really really surprised with "Lust, Caution". The film was so extreme and cruel that I thought I had watched an American espionage film directed by an American director. But towards the ending of the film, all the Ang Lee's trademarks had thankfully gathered to show off a highly unconventional treatment of characters yet very sensitive, very humanist. Of course the feelings, being heavily damaged in the previous parts of the film, could hardly recover by the end, but in overall this is a very well-made thriller with a nostalgic scent of a China of the past pervading from a very authentic setting with excellent production values. Once again, Ang Lee proved himself an adventurous director always desiring to explore new genres and new themes - this time a espionage thriller in the war time, and hell, he succeeded again in satisfying the audience with a first-class thriller despite a highly unsatisfactory ending. The gentle Ang Lee also surprised everyone by switch his treatment of human feelings from a very peaceful and sensitive style to the total extreme with graphical violence and saddistic sex, which had rarely appeared in his films before. Luckily enough for the audience, this is Ang Lee we are talking about, and even those controversial sex scenes were treated by him with utter care to show the character development with all tones of desire, desperation, love, and deception. As usual, Tony Leung was exceptional in his role - the way he excels in Wong Kar-wai's films, but it is Tang Wei who deserves the biggest applauds for her audacity, sensitiveness, and her radiant beauty that is incomparable in her generation of Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese actresses. From Tang Wei's face, the audience can feel a sense of ambiguity between pure innocence and formidable desire, between love and hate, between the good and the bad - a sense of ambiguity so strong that it encompasses the environment of the film in a whole. It is a pity that the "NC-17" controversy had overshadowed Tang Wei's effort (under the brilliant direction by Ang Lee and with the expert cooperation from Tony Leung, of course) in depicting an extraordinary character that is exceptionally strong and deeply complex. As the film was intentionally (by the director, and by the original writer of the source materials - Eileen Chang, I suppose) devoid of political and historical implications (which mostly served as a neutral yet extreme environment for the development of characters), such ambiguity contributed a great deal in solidifying the film as a classic treatment of human feelings and desires in the middle of the war, instead of a simple Shakespearean "melo". The ending disappointed me a little bit for its strangely lax focus on the fates of the characters (the ambiguity prevailed again here!), but the film in a whole and the fantastic Tang Wei are more than enough for any one who like espionage, and/or humanist tragedy.