Tang Wei to return in 'Hennessey'

'Lust, Caution' star makes first appearance after ban

HONG KONG -- Chinese actress Tang Wei is set to return to movie screens in her native country after a reported ban prompted by her politically sensitive role in Ang Lee's spy thriller "Lust, Caution" three years ago.

Tang Wei's new romance, "Crossing Hennessy," has cleared Chinese censors, said marketing official Veii Chan of Hong Kong production company Edko Films Ltd. But a release date hasn't been set and it is not immediately clear how widely the movie will be released, Chan said Wednesday.

With just a TV series to her credit, Tang was an unknown when Lee cast her over 10,000 other candidates in his 2007 Chinese-language production "Lust, Caution." She became an overnight sensation for her role as a Chinese student activist who seduces a Japanese-allied spy chief in World War II-era Shanghai to pave way for his assassination.

But the politically sensitive subject matter may have caused the actress problems. China is still very sensitive about the Japanese invasion during World War II and the atrocities committed by its military. To make things worse, Tang's character falls in love with the spy chief and gives away the assassination plot at the last minute.

"Lust, Caution" was released in China - but with heavy editing for political correctness and sexual content. Tang also did not escape unscathed. Chinese regulators ordered TV stations not to report on her and pull ads featuring her, according to news reports.

She did not act again until "Crossing Hennessy," in which she plays a shopkeeper who is set
up with a neighbor played by veteran Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung.

Tang's appearance in a Hong Kong movie was a way to bypass Chinese regulators. While this former British colony is now ruled by Beijing, it still retains a Western-style political system and enjoys greater creative freedom.

"Crossing Hennessy" will be released in Hong Kong on April 1.