If you’ve ever wondered what Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s tale of seduction would be like set in 1930s Shanghai instead of 18th-century France, then this umpteenth version will undoubtedly satisfy your curiosity. Otherwise, Hur Jin-ho’s beautifully rendered, rather empty retelling of the contest between a cad (Jang Dong-gun) and his corrupt aristocrat counterpart (Cecilia Cheung) wagering over virtuous lives will feel like a typical tour through Masterpiece Theater territory, Asian division. Jang and Cheung have incredible screen chemistry together, which only serves to highlight how little heat he and Crouching Tiger’s Zhang Ziyi, playing the object of his affection-slash-transaction, produce in their scenes. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, as the novel suggested, but steamy adaptations simply can’t be doled out lukewarm.
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