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TEMPTRESS MOON

What You Need To Know:

In TEMPTRESS MOON, a young, suave gigolo entraps beautiful, married women and then blackmails them for plenty of money. The gigolo is unprepared when his boss sends him back to the home of his youth, the palatial house of the wealthy Pang family where he had been bullied into the role of a servant boy by his own sister’s husband. The Pang family, entrenched in their old wealth, are opium addicts. The gigolo is attracted to their lovely daughter, but his boss has set up a situation where she will witness the true nature of the gigolo’s criminal profession.

The film is as beautiful as its women, either swooning in the arms of one manipulative man after another or screaming and crying in helpless hysteria. The men are all cold hearted, and the women without conscience. For all its visually stunning imageries and photography, the film is bleak and uninspiring. It is more physical film than emotive, and rarely evocative. The characters in TEMPTRESS MOON seem as hazy as their opium induced states. The movie indulges in decadence, with lives that seem not to know any other paths except addiction to opium, materialistic greed and sexual acts that seem to have no recollection of conscience or morality.

Content:

(Pa, VV, SSS, NN, M) Pagan worldview glamorizing decadent lifestyles & an element of ancestral worship; some beatings & slapping, gang shoots man dead, & woman kills herself; 7 sexual situations involving attempted rape, adultery, prostitution, & implied incest; partial male & female nudity; heavy substance abuse with opium smoking; cigarette-smoking; miscellaneous immorality including gambling, blackmail, gangsterism, prostitution, rape, adultery, gigolo activities, & suicide.

More Detail:

It is 1911, and there is a republican revolution in China. In the confines of the palatial home of the Pangs, however, life goes on the way it has for decades. Unmoved and unable to cope with the changes outside its walls, the head of the household, Old Master Pang, languishes away smoking opium and bringing up his two children, the beautiful Ruyi (Gong Li) and her brother Zhengda (Zhou Yeman), on opium as well. On one of these opium-smoking nights, Zhongliang (Lesia Cheung), the orphaned brother of Zhengda’s wife arrives at the Pang mansion, hoping to live with the family for a while and then go on to study in Peking and become part of the new social movement of the day. He is bitterly disappointed.

At the Pang household, Zhongliang is treated like a servant, fetching, carrying and preparing opium pipes. At one time, Zhongliang is even asked to kiss his sister, preparing the way for an implied incestuous situation. After this, Zhongliang boards a train for Peking, but before he can make it into the city, he joins up with gang leader, Boss, who becomes his mentor and turns Zhongliang into a smooth gigolo. Zhongliang entraps beautiful married women into sexual situations and then blackmails them. He turns out to be very good at this and becomes Boss’s favorite.

It is now the 1920s, and back at the Pang household, old man Pang dies, and Ruyi takes over. Because she is a woman, a poor relation Duanwu (Kevin Lin) is installed as the mock head of household while Ruyi actually runs the home. Ruyi, thanks to her reputation as an opium smoker, remains unmarried. Zhengda is paralyzed and brain dead from the family’s favorite pastime.

Things take a dramatic turnaround when Zhongliang is sent back to the Pang family by his boss to seduce Ruyi and steal the family fortune. Ruyi and Zhonglian are attracted to each other, but there are complications. In the emotional maelstrom that ensues, Zhongliang flees back to Shanghai, where his boss sets up a situation where Ruyi witnesses the actual life of Zhongliang as a gigolo.

The film is reflective of director Chen Kaige’s touch: lush, rich and visually stunning. The women, all beautiful and possessing seductive glances, are lovely, but they are either melodramatic or swooning in the arms of silent, icy men. Unfolding very slowly, TEMPTRESS MOON delves into the shimmer and glimmer of Shanghai’s golden era of fancy dance halls, gloved women dripping with jewelry and sleek, smooth men. Where there is money, there is also corruption and the underworld. Zhongliang represents many of those who were lured by the shiny greed of those times.

In Chen Kaige’s film, there is decadence in both the glittery world of Shanghai and in the cloistered world of old money where there is no change. In the city’s dance parlors and in Old Man Pang’s imposing, antiquated hallways, sin of every nature lurks. There are sexual transgressions and bullying utterances that do not reflect values or integrity. The film meanders into lost lives in a dreamy, evocative fashion, much like the film’s opium victims, who are constantly in half-worlds of reality and the drugged states of opium overdose.

Sensuously photographed, the movie is visually catching, but its plot and its characters are much too lost in their own deviant lives to be enjoyable. TEMPTRESS MOON paints a scenario of broken lives woven into a smoky, drawn-out melodrama. The movie does not get its teeth into the heart of the matter and does not draw moral boundaries.

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


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