Tang returns to red carpet for 'Hennessy'

Banned actress back in the spotlight at Asia Film Awards

HONG KONG -- Chinese actress Tang Wei returned to the red carpet on Sunday, promoting her first movie since the 2007 Ang Lee spy thriller "Lust, Caution," a politically sensitive production that reportedly prompted officials to ban her in her home country.

Lee catapulted the then-unknown Tang to stardom by casting her as a student activist who seduces a Japanese-allied Chinese intelligence chief in World War II-era Shanghai to pave way for his assassination, only to fall in love with the traitor.

With many Chinese still incensed by Japanese atrocities during the war, government censors asked Lee to edit the film to be more politically acceptable. The Oscar-winning Taiwanese filmmaker changed a line of dialogue at the end of the movie so it was more ambiguous if

Tang's character gave away the assassination plot. He also toned down explicit sex scenes.

But even though the edited version of the movie was cleared for release, Chinese officials still wanted to punish Tang, ordering TV stations to pull ads featuring the actress and to stop covering her, according to news reports.

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The actress did not act again until "Crossing Hennessy," a Hong Kong-set romance that held its world premiere on Sunday, kicking off the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival. The Ivy Ho movie has been cleared for release in China.

"Coming to Hong Kong for this premiere, I can see (director) Ivy and (co-star) Andy On again. I've been very happy. Now I'm just excited to see the movie," Tang told reporters.

"I will be happy if everyone can see my work," she said.

Another co-star, veteran Hong Kong actress Paw Hee-ching, said she was delighted to see Tang's comeback.

"Everyone knows that Tang Wei is an actress of international stature, but she hasn't been able to make any movies in the past few years. For her to see the light of day again with this movie, I'm really happy for her," Paw said.

In "Crossing Hennessy," Tang plays a shopkeeper who's set up with the owner of an electric appliance store, played by Hong Kong pop legend Jacky Cheung.

The Chinese actress has also been shooting "Late Autumn," an English-language remake of the 1966 South Korean film by the same name, directed by Kim Tae-yong and co-starring Hyun Bin.

The Hong Kong festival, which runs until April 6, will screen 298 movies from more than 50 countries, including 24 world premieres.
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