Dangerous Liaisons

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Trading eighteenth-century France for 1930s Shanghai, South Korean director Jin-ho Hur’s (Christmas in August) glossy erotic melodrama puts a fresh spin on the scandalous literary classic “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” by Choderlos de Laclos, telling a tangled tale of love and deceit that resonates far beyond the age in which it was written. In this new Dangerous Liaisons, Xie Yifan (Jang Dong-gun) is Valmont, the charismatic libertine. Mo Jieyu (Cecelia Cheung) is Marquise de Merteuil, the affluent but aging femme fatale bracing herself for beauty’s expiration date. And Du Yufen (Zhang Ziyi) is Madame de Tourvel, the innocent human collateral helplessly caught in the cynical sexual gamesmanship between these two erotic schemers — but victim becomes victor when the beautiful young widow is able to inspire true love from the seducer who had selected her as the pawn in his nefarious game. While the characters and plot are easily recognizable from both the original novel and Stephen Frears’ Academy Award–winning 1988 film version starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich, the fascinating new setting and cultural milieu of 1930s Shanghai – with its gangsters, sophisticated nightlife, opulent locales and the looming threat of the Japanese invasion – turns this familiar tale into something deliciously and “dangerously” new. (Dir. by Jin-ho Hur, 2012, China & South Korea, in Mandarin with subtitles, 110 min.,Not Rated, Well Go Entertainment) HD Digital