Dangerous Liaisons (2012) DVD Review, a movie directed by Hur Jin-ho and starring Zhang Ziyi, Jang Dong-Gun, Cecilia Cheung, Shawn Dou, Lisa Lu, and Candy Wang.
Release Date: February 12, 2013
The timeless tale of seduction and betrayal gets a modern update here moving it from pre-revolutionary France to Shanghai in unrest and on the verge of war. The decadence and lack of empathy are the same as two wealthy aristocrats toy with the emotional lives of others for their own amusement. This adaptation has a somewhat more soft-focused view of the setting itself and the actions of its characters: it lacks the sharp bite of Glenn Close’s and John Malkovich’s Marquise and Valmont.
What it lacks in teeth, it makes up for in sweet kisses. Zhang Ziyi’s fragile reserve draws in the audience as much as it does playboy Yifan, while the casual upperclass glamor provides a feast for the eyes. This Shanghai is one you’ll want to luxuriate in if even for a moment.
Cecilia Cheung’s manipulations are enjoyable and she arguably has the best lines in the film: “Men are alike. When they have money and power, they ruin the lives of young women.” We get a fleeting glimpse into what once-upon-a-time may have been a young and trusting Madame Mo before the cruelness of her character crushed out any vulnerability in favor of wrecking the lives of others.
Dangerous Liaisons is an enjoyable and well-made take on the universal story of love and revenge. While many will forever compare it with the 1988 film, it stands in its own right as a worthy adaptation of the Choderlos de Laclos book.
Run time: 111 minutes
Format: NTSC, THX, Dolby, Widescreen
Region: 1 (USA and Canada)
Audio: Mandarin in Stereo 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtites: English, Chinese
Rating: NR (not rated)
The single disc is packaged in a standard clam shell with a montage from the movie on the cover. The bottom third of the cover contains a fairly racy image of the silhouette of a woman’s nude form illuminated from the back. The back cover has a single still shot of a dancing couple glancing at the camera with a synopsis of the film, cast and crew, and its specs.
Shot on 35mm, the film makes great use of the benefits of that film. Most of the movie is imbued with a warm golden tone evoking the glamor of that gilded age. The film eschews traditional digital crispness for a characteristic grain evoking the languid decadence of the leisure class of that time period. There is still plenty to see with the impressive costuming, period cars, and bright colors of pre-war Shanghai. This is not the Shanghai of Skyfall or Looper, it is the Shanghai of old: luxurious silks, a crush of people, attention to detail; the cinematography is sumptuous.
The film utilizes a Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound soundtrack for what largely amounts to dialogue—albeit intimate moments, sometimes whispered. Dangerous Liaisons is an emotional drama mostly centered upon machinations, conversations, and characters’ reactions to them. The sound system did not really receive a workout except on street scenes, a night at the opera, a cocktail party, and a political demonstration. The high society events made great use of immersion and certainly placed the listener in the middle of the social scene. Demonstration-on-the-verge-of a riot was the most impressive in its use of surround sound, though it could have made better use of directionality.
Making of (16 minutes)
Interviews with the cast and crew and a glimpse into the production of the film; this is by no means a comprehensive look at the filming, but fans of the film should find some interesting bits.
Behind the Scenes (15 minutes)
three different segments focus on different actors and their characters; Zhang Ziyi, Jang Dong-gun, and Cecilia Cheung give interviews on how their own personalities shaped the characters in the film and vice versa.
Trailers (6 minutes): the studio cut several trailers for the film; each focuses on a different character.
Where you can purchase this Blu-ray
You can purchase Dangerous Liaisons on Blu-ray here: .