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Dangerous Liaisons (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 21, 2013 by  



A wonderful Chinese adaptation of the popular French novel, Hur Jin-Ho’s “Dangerous Liaisons” is sexy, captivating and a fantastic film!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Zanbo Media Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dangerous Liaisons (Wi-heom-han gyan-gye)

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, Mandarin, English Stereo/5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English and Chinese

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: February 12, 2013

Directed by Jin-ho Hur

Based on the novel by Choderlos de Lacios

Screenplay by Geling Yan

Produced by Wei Ming Chen

Executive Producer: Xia Zhang

Music by Sung-woo Jo

Cinematography by Byung-seo Kim

Edited by Na-young Nam

Costume Design by Miggy Cheng

Starring:

Cecilia Cheung as Mo Jieyu

Jang Dong-gun as Xie Yifan

Zhang Ziyi as Du Fenyu

Lisa Lu as Madam Du Ruixue

Candy Weng as Bei Bei Zhu

Shawn Dou as Dai Wenzhou

Rong Rong as Mrs. Zhu

Shuli Xiao as Gui Zhen

Yun Zhang as A Wen

1930s Shanghai: the glamorous, tumultuous Paris of the East whose salons, streets and bedrooms frame this Chinese adaptation of the French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses – into a lush new vision of DANGEROUS LIAISONS.

Aging socialite Mo Jieyu (Cecilia Cheung) still finds herself circling ex-boyfriend Xie Yifan (Jang Dong-kun). Even after years of separation, their attraction – and appetites – smolder just beneath the surface. Mo, the rich and charming widow with a taste for indulgence and sensuous pleasures, still has eyes for famous womanizer Xie, who secretly burns with love for her.

And yet, in his luxurious life, Xie’s new interest lies in chaste humanitarian Du Fenyu (Ziyi Zhang), who has captured his attention and earned his desire for conquest. Mo lures Xie into a treacherous, dangerous game of hearts: win, bed, and leave Du, proving his mettle as a rogue and impossible catch. But can Xie take the honor of such a woman, without losing his own heart, as well? As war looms in Shanghai, can Xie win Mo’s seductive game? Can he choose between these two women? Where will such a triangle lead them all? In matters of the heart, and in this city, there may be no difference between love and war.

In 1782, Choderlos de Lacios published his French epistolary novel “Les Liaisons dangeruses” (The Dangerous Liaisons).  The novel would inspire several films including the 1959 Roger Vadim film, a 1988 Stephen Frears film titled “Dangerous Liaisons”, the 1989 film “Valmont” and the 1999 Roger Kumble film “Cruel Intentions”.

In Korea, the film would lead to a 2003 film titled “Untold Scandal” by E J-yong and in 2012, a Chinese film by South Korean filmmaker Hur Jin-ho.

Hur Jin-ho is known for his films about love.  From his 1998 hit film “Christmas in August”, his 2001 film “One Fine Spring Day”, “April Snow” (2005), “Happiness” (2007) and “A Good Rain Knows” (2009).  The latter film which would feature a Korean/China collaboration between their two main leads.

With his 2012 film “Dangerous Liaisons”, Hur Jin-ho and screenwriter Geling Yan (“Xiu Xiu The Sent-Down Girl”, “Forever Enthralled”) wanted to do a film inspired by the original French novel but with the setting taking place in Shanghai during the 1930’s.  And also continuing a collaboration between Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung (“The Promise”, “Running on Karma”, “Shaolin Soccer”), Jang Dong-Gun (“The Promise”, “The Coast Guard”, “The Warrior’s Way”, “Tae Guk Gi: Brotherhood of War”) and Chinese actress Zhang Zi Yi (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hero”, “House of Flying Daggers”).

The film is set in Shanghai and focuses on the lives of two powerful, wealthy people.  Two friends that are attracted by lust but have never been romantic or sexually involved.

Xie Yifan (portrayed by Jang Dong-gun) is a man who is known to be a serial seducer of women, enjoying the competition of having sex with a woman, to dump them right afterward.  And because of that, his reputation of a seducer is well-known in Shanghai.  But the reason he is a seducer is because he has been unable to make the woman of his desires, Mou Jieyu (portrayed by Cecilia Cheung) his.

When his uncle’s grandaughter Du Fenyu (portrayed by Zhang Ziyi) and his grandmother Du Ruixue (portrayed by Lisa Lu) arrive, Xie Yifan immediately wants to conquer Fenyu.

Meanwhile, Hudong Bank chairwoman Mo Jieyu is a woman of power and gets literally everything she wants. When she finds out that a wealthy tycoon named Jin Zhihuan (portrayed by Zhang Han) is to marry a 16-year-old virgin named Beibei (portrayed by Candy Wang), immediately she wants to find ways to wreck the relationship by taking away Beibei’s virginity.

And when both Xie Yifan and Mo Jieyu see each other scheming, both decide to bet each other.  If Xie Yifan can conquer Du Fenyu, she will become his woman.  If he fails, he must sign a valuable piece of land to her.  And Yifan, always wanting a challenge but will do anything to make Mo Jieyu his woman.  Meanwhile, she tries to get Xie Yifan to have sexual contact with BeiBei but declines as he has a woman in his mind (Fenyu), that he wants to conquer.

And as Xie Yifan tries to get close to De Fenyu, he realizes that she is very difficult and that unlike other women, she is not falling for his charms.As for Mo Jieyu, she starts to learn that Beibei has fallen for her art teacher, a college student named Dai Wenzhou (portrayed by Shawn Dou).  But as she tries to give Dai chances to have sexual relations with BeiBei, she also finds it a challenge to steal BeiBei’s virginity.

And as these two competitive individuals are determined to win their bet, who will become the victor?

VIDEO:

“Dangerous Liaisons” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen).  The film looks fantastic in HD with skintones that are natural, detail on clothing, hair, vehicles that look amazing.  But it’s the close-ups that look stunning, thanks to the performances and style of shots that were taken.   The film looks luxurious, the costume design captures 1930’s Shanghai thanks to the amount of research done for the film and the film looks amazing on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dangerous Liaisons ” is presented in Mandarin DTS-HD 5.1.  For a dramatic film with a lot of dialogue, as one can expect from this film, dialogue is crystal clear from the center/front channels.  Especially the music, including Chinese performances played on stage are clear.  There are moments of crowd ambiance through the surround channels but this is primarily a dialogue-driven film.

Subtitles are in English and Chinese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dangerous Liaisons ” come with the following special features:

  • Making of – (16:55) Interviews with the cast of “Dangerous Liaisons”
  • Behind-the-Scenes – (4:57) Behind-the-scene profiles with each of the three main talents: Cecilia Cheung, Jang Dong-gun and Zhang Ziyi.
  • Trailers – (6:56) Theatrical trailers for “Dangerous Liaisons”.

Featuring a spectacular performance by Jang Dong-gun, Cecilia Cheung and Zhang Ziyi, “Dangerous Liaisons” is a film in which we have never seen these talents take part in before.

While the film reunites “The Promise” (2005) talents Korean actor Jang Dong-gun and Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung, the two go farther than they ever have in their performance as Jang Dong-gun as Xie Yifan must make the crowd believe he is the ultimate amoral playboy that would make women’s hearts swoon and eventually conquer them.

Cecilia Cheung’s performance as Mo Jieyu must portray the role of a powerful woman who never will be conquered.  An amoral woman who loves to control situations and also a woman who knows that she has control over Xie Yifan, the man who has always lusted for her.

And while there have been a good number of film adaptations based on Choderlos de Lacios’ “Les Liaisons dangeruses”, the adaptation of 1930’s Shanghai with exquisite costume design, luxurious settings is a sight to be hold.  Both Jang Dong-gun and Cecilia Cheung look as if they belong in that era and they sell the audience of the characters they are portraying, even though these two speak different languages and are from different countries, they make it happen.

For actress Cecilia Cheung, known for taking on comedic, fantasy or feudal-based films, the actress goes all out in playing the vixen. Even smoking all day literally (despite quitting smoking five years ago) in order to play the role, having watched this actress for well-over a decade now, I have to say this is her finest performance yet (considering I have felt her performance on “Fly Me to Polaris” as her breakthrough drama acting role).

And as for Zhang Ziyi, she has taken on many roles in her career over the last ten years, but this role required her to be reserved and later emotional, it was a different role for her to play but she also shines in this film.

But “Dangerous Liaisons” is a fascinating film for director Hur Jin-ho to take on.  Always known for his love stories, “Dangerous Liaisons” is about a man who is the ultimate playboy because he can never have the woman that he really wants, but when he engages in a bet with that woman to conquer the cautious Fenyu, he realizes that he may have discovered his one true love.  But at the same time, he’s a man that has long lusted after Mo Jieyu.  Which will he give into… love or lust?

And in an interesting juxtaposition, Mo Jieyu is a woman who doesn’t want to love, enjoys being lusted over by Xie Yifan but also not wanting to lose him to any woman.  These characters are fascinating and the way that Hur Jin-ho had ended the film, different from other adaptations, is appropriate and it works quite well.

As for the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray looks amazing.  Detail of clothing, vehicles to close-ups of the characters are full of detail.  Colors are vibrant and many scenes are well-lit and for the most part, cinematography by Byung-seo Kim is fantastic.  Lossless soundtrack is primarily center and front-channel driven as one would expect from a dialogue driven film with ambiance of crowds being heard in the surrounds when needed.  And as for special features, there are a few, including a making-of that really shows how challenging it was to make the film for the talents involved.

A wonderful Chinese adaptation of the popular French novel, Hur Jin-Ho’s “Dangerous Liaisons” is sexy, captivating and a fantastic film!






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