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Ang Lee cuts ‘Lust’ for China

Venice winner to lose 30 minutes

BEIJING — Venice Golden Lion winner “Lust, Caution” will see 30 of its steamiest and most violent minutes trimmed for Chinese auds, sparking renewed calls for the introduction of a film classification system in the country.

The original runs 156 minutes, but up to half an hour will be cut to make the film “relatively clean” for Chinese auds, helmer Ang Lee told Chinese media.

The spy actioner features explicit sex scenes between Tang Wei and Hong Kong star Tony Leung Chiu-wai. U.S. censors have slapped an NC-17 label on the movie.

“Lust” is also likely to be sliced in Hong Kong, a Chinese special administrative region where Edko Films is releasing the pic wide on 50 prints on Sept. 26.

“We are still waiting for the advice of the ratings board,” said an Edko source. “But it seems pretty clear that we are heading for cuts to qualify for a III rating.”

Of Hong Kong’s four ratings, the III classification is the territory’s only one with mandatory stipulations. It gives theater box offices the power to check IDs, requires that promotional materials be screened by censors and mandates that videos be sold in sealed plastic wrapping.

No such rating option exists on the Chinese mainland, where either everyone gets to see a movie, from toddler to senior citizen, or no one does. Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” was banned in mainland China for its homosexual content.

The lack of a film classification system means the only tools at the censor’s disposal are cutting entire scenes or simply banning a movie, both drastic steps considering that script approval must be granted before a movie goes into production.

Among the advocates of a film rating system is thesp Gong Li, who proposed a system in her capacity as a member of the advisory body to China’s annual parliament, the National People’s Congress.

“Lust, Caution” was due to open Sept. 23, but is more likely to bow Oct. 26 after a blackout period, known as Outstanding Golden Domestic Film Exhibition Month, to allow for a Communist Party congress.

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