Based on an 18th-centruy French novel of the same title, the sensual movie tells the story of two ex-lovers getting into a cynical sexual game.
The original novel has been made into a number of films in many different countries, including American director Roger Kumble’s 1999 drama “Cruel Intentions,” which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon as upper-class high-school teens. Korean director Lee Je-yong also made the remake of the novel in 2003, with top stars Jeon Do-yeon and Bae Yong-joon as a man and a woman in the 18th century Joseon period.
“I’d like to applaud director Hur for his courage,” said Zhang. “I think was very brave of him to make a remake of the novel which has already been adapted for the big screen multiple times. It was also brave of him to shoot this movie in Chinese when there already has been a successful remake of the film in Korea.”
The latest remake takes place in Shanghai in the 1930s, and features Jang as the city’s popular, charismatic libertine Xie Yifan. The plot of the film develops as he makes a bet with Mo Jieyu (Cecilia Cheung), the city’s wealthy femme fatale businesswoman, that he can seduce a demure widow (Zhang Ziyi) who runs a charity business.
“I found a lot of similarities between myself and Mo Jieyu,” said Cecilia Cheung, who was involved in a nude photo scandal in 2008 and bitterly ended her marriage with Hong Kong singer Nicholas Tse in 2001. “Her life reminded me of my own experiences in love and relationships.”
The actress, who said she’s been in love many times, also mentioned that the movie can be “educational.”
“It deals with human relationships, escapism, and things that are important when forming relationships with others,” she said. “When you take the film seriously, you’d know what I mean calling the piece educational.”
Zhang Ziyi, on the other hand, said she’d love to participate in another remake of the French novel if she were given a chance. “I’d like to play Mo Jieyu next time,” she said.
Meanwhile, the movie required Jang Dong-gun to act entirely in Chinese.
“I’ve been in Jang’s shoes before,” said Cheung, who previously worked with Jang in 2005 fantasy film “The Promise.”
“I was the only Chinese person on the set when I was shooting Korean film ’Failan’ in 2001,” she said. “So I know how difficult it is to act in a foreign language in a foreign country. But Jang never complained, and he pulled it off so well.”
Jang said he didn’t necessarily want to play a womanizer, but wanted to try something different from his previous works.
“Of course, acting in Chinese was a huge challenge,” he said. “And I wasn’t used to director Hur’s style at first. Unlike the ones I had worked on before, he wouldn’t give much direction when I act. But because his directions were so minimal, I ended up thinking about the character like never before. It made me understand the character better, and perform with much depth.”
BIFF continues until Oct. 13.
By Claire Lee (email@example.com