Ang Lee's spy thriller 'Lust, Caution' dominates Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards

2007-12-08 07:59:09 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Taiwan director Ang Lee holds his award for the Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year at the 44th Golden Horse Awards, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007 in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

China actress Tang Wei holds her award for Best New Performer at the 44th Golden Horse Awards, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007 in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Taiwan director Ang Lee, right, displays his awards won for his film "Lust, Caution," at the 44th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Taiwan showered native son Ang Lee with honors Saturday as his spy thriller "Lust, Caution" dominated the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, clinching seven prizes, including best film, director and actor.

Lee used the occasion to speak out about the plight of his home island in unusually political comments.

Accepting the award for Taiwanese filmmaker of the year, the Oscar-winning director said Taiwan "suffered many injustices."

Asked to elaborate backstage, Lee refused, but he was apparently referring to Taiwan's awkward diplomatic status.

Taiwan split with mainland China amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing still views the self-ruled, democratic island as its territory and has threatened to retake it by force. The Chinese government is keen to stop Taiwanese moves that may signal its nationhood, such as joining international organizations like the U.N.

In a veiled criticism of China's authoritarian rule, Lee said of Taiwan, "our biggest advantage is our freedom."

Lee said at a press conference earlier Saturday he edited a line in "Lust, Caution," at the request of Chinese censors, to make its main female character appear less of a traitor to the Chinese.

The usually reserved director wrapped up his acceptance speech by chanting "Go Taiwanese film!"

The success of "Lust, Caution" at the Golden Horse Awards came after the film became a big hit in both Taiwan and China. It generated discussion about its steamy sex scenes and rekindled interest in famed writer Eileen Chang, who wrote the short story on which the movie is based.

"Lust, Caution," about an undercover activist who seduces the Japanese-allied spy chief in World War II-era Shanghai to pave way for his assassination, marks Lee's return to Chinese-language film after making "Hulk" and the gay romance "Brokeback Mountain."

He said winning at home is especially touching.

"I feel very warm in the heart to receive everyone's affirmation," Lee said.

"Lust, Caution" won seven out of the 11 prizes it was nominated for Saturday.

Veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai won for his portrayal of the calm, ruthless spy chief. Lead actress Tang Wei was named best new performer. The film also won best adapted screenplay, best score and best makeup and costume design.

It was another veteran actor, Joan Chen, known in the U.S. for her roles in "The Last Emperor" and the TV series "Twin Peaks," who stopped a total sweep of the top awards by "Lust, Caution."

Chen won best actress for portraying the struggles of a Hong Kong nightclub singer who moves to Australia in the 1960s in "The Home Song Stories." Her award in Taiwan come on the heels of another best actress prize at the Australian Film Institute awards.

Chen's win caps a productive year for the 46-year-old actress. She was also in "Lust, Caution" and another film, "The Sun Also Rises," which won best editing Saturday.

Chen said her win was special because "fewer good roles are available when you reach a certain age."

Veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Ka-fai won best supporting actor for playing a gangster who tries to protect his son from revenge in "The Drummer." Chinese actress Fan Bingbing was named best supporting actress for playing a ghost in "The Matrimony."

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien and actor Chang Chen paid tribute to filmmaker Edward Yang, who was posthumously given the lifetime achievement award.

The Cannes-winning director died from complications from colon cancer in June.

A list of winners at the 44th Golden Horse Awards