DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Dangerous Liaisons, Blu-ray (2012/2013)

Turns out this is the second Asian film treatment of the 18th-century French novel.

Published on February 5, 2013

Dangerous Liaisons, Blu-ray (2012/2013)

Actors: Ceclia Cheung, Dong-gun Jang
Director: Jin-ho Hur
Studio: Well Go USA [2/12/13]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: Cantonese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English, Chinese
Extras: “Making of” documentary, Behind the Scenes, Trailers
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: ****

Not sure how I received this one, but I thought it would be interesting to see how the Chinese handled the familiar 1792 French novel which has been done several times in the west—my favorite being Roger Vadim’s version with Jean Moreau and Gerard Philipe and a soundtrack score by Thelonious Monk (for which he failed to receive credit).

Well, it’s beautifully done, as a lush new version with gorgeous sets, costuming and cinematography—set in the tumultuous “Paris of the East”—Shanghai in the 1930s. (There was also a previous Asian version, taking place in 18th-century Korea.) The aging but beautiful socialite Miss Mo has retained the interest of her ex-boyfriend, man-about-town famous womanizer Xie. However, Xie wants to add a resistant humanitarian woman, Du Fenyu, to his list of conquests. There also is a teenager involved, who Xie also conquers, but this adds some confusion.

Mo and Xie make a bet that if he is successful with Du Fenyu, and then jilts her, Mo will give herself to him. (One does wonder a bit what Xie sees in Du Fenyu.) Of course this all leads to a very dangerous game of treachery, lies and conceits. The comeuppance in the end is not quite as violent as in the other versions, but effective nevertheless. The element of revolt and terrorism against the European control over Shanghai comes up in the story. I did miss Monk’s music, but otherwise this was a fascinating sensual glimpse into another time and place, with superb acting and production values.

—John Sunier




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