Chinese-American actress Bai Ling had her breakout role in 1997's Red Corner, a courtroom drama in which she defended Richard Gere from a corrupt government trial – romancing him, naturally, along the way. But since then, Ling has played a streak of bad girls and scantily-clad seductresses that put her equally-sensual public persona front and center, in films ranging from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to this year's Crank: High Voltage. Even in her latest film, the independent drama A Beautiful Life, Ling plays a stripper – albeit one with a heart of gold.
Some might argue that her career choices lean toward female objectification, and they wouldn't be wrong. But there's something wholly empowered about the way Bai Ling tackles her film roles. Sure, she's played her fair share of strippers, prostitutes, and femme fatales, but does it matter if she totally owns and embraces those characters more given in to their carnal impulses?
After the jump, Bai Ling names her favorite Bai Ling love scenes of all time.
Bai Ling plays Aunt Mei, a sexagenarian in a smokin' hot bod who shares the secret of her youthfulness -- homemade fetus dumplings! -- with an aging actress in Fruit Chan's film, which was also part of the Three...Extremes horror compilation.
"She's so mischievous and provocative; she's making her dumplings but her whole life is like making love. Every being that encounters her, she has the mischievous task of seducing them, very erotically. For me, love is a transformative energy to focus on a person or thing that can be changeable. It can be him, it can be her, it can be this and that. For this character, she can fall in love with her dumplings, fall in love with a stranger, she can seduce anything. She puts a spell on you.
It has the most primitive love scene ever in history of movies. Tony Leung Ka-Fai is a sex symbol in Asia, and I made love with him in Dumplings. It is so f***ing raw, and I loved it. It's passionate, it's crazy. That's one I enjoyed filming because it had pain – I saw myself and the corner of the table kept moving – and he tore my clothes off and broke my clothes. It's brutally, brutally primitive and honest."
A Beautiful Life (2009)
Ling stepped in for Denise Richards days before filming commenced to play Esther, an erotic dancer who dreams of becoming a singer, in Alejandro Chomski's Los Angeles-set drama. In one scene, she takes the stage to sing to an audience of enraptured gentlemen's club patrons in the hope of landing a recording deal.
"When she is singing and erotically dancing in front of the gentlemen's club I thought, cool! That's another love scene to me. She is dancing and performing, but she's making love to the whole room, and to her songs, and to her image as a woman. She's seducing everyone; when she sings her song, a lot of the guys get excited. And she's excited. Maybe the power of her sexuality is much larger than making love to just one person. She has to give her energy to everybody, to show that she's touching herself but she's touching you. She's trying to seduce you and make you feel like you're sexy, make you feel like you're beautiful, make you forget about your problems. She's making love in public. I like making love in public! You cannot, but you can use the energy. Making love is often physical, but there are different ways that lovemaking can extend and enlarge, just by concentrating on the two people."
Red Corner (1997)
One of Ling's most celebrated performances came as Shen Yuelin, the court-appointed lawyer to Richard Gere's falsely accused American businessman in Jon Avnet's Red Corner. Although their characters' romance remains chaste, Ling considers this to be one of her most spiritual love stories.
"In Red Corner, I make love with Richard Gere. There's a scene at the end that we didn't use, where we kiss. We didn't use it in the film, but the whole film is making love in a very sensitive, spiritual, romantic and pure way. This has an air of purity, a way of making love with the soul and heart. You don't have to see us in bed, but we were making love in every scene that we saw each other. The whole film is our characters making love."
Ling spiced up the third season of ABC's Lost with a one-episode guest role as Achara, a Thai woman who shares a relationship with Jack and gives him his mysterious tattoos in a flashback.
"We were realistic when we were doing whatever we were doing – kissing, feeling each other – we didn't know each other, but we did it so passionately. When you watch it, that love making scene is actually really sexy. I like it, it's really well done. Matthew Fox is very handsome. We naturally had this chemistry. We never had to talk about it. In that scene our characters just click. That's one I enjoyed. I wish I could go back!"
HBO's Entourage saw another memorable guest turn by Ling, who played a stunt coordinator romanced briefly by Vince in a Season Two episode.
"We tried to figure out how to do it. It was on a Japanese-style tatami and they panned to me sitting on top of him; I was naked but his leg was covered. It was really sexy. The passersby see us making love. Also, I was fighting with him and that's love making, too. Everything she did was like a seduction."
Shanghai Baby (2007)
Ling starred as Coco, a young woman torn between two men (Gregory Wong and Luke Goss) in modern-day Shanghai, in this adaptation of Wei Hui's sexually frank novel.
"The whole film is about making love to two men. One is an Eastern man, one is a Western man. They're different; the Eastern man doesn't really make love, but is romantic mentally; he's crippled. That love has a kind of sweet sadness. But mentally, it's beautiful. Asian culture is different -- romance is in the mind, like the old way of writing love letters. Making love by imagining. Making love by poetry, by touch, from a distance. With the Western guy, it's all about passion. He's tearing my clothes off in the bathroom, on the desktop we're making love...crazy. Every ten minutes, there's a love scene. If you want to see Bai Ling making love, there's the most love making scenes in that movie! I like the character; she's torn between the old traditions of the East, and the contemporary modern world of Western culture. She struggles with both. That's the contemporary Asian woman's struggle."
Love Ranch (TBD)
Ling won the role of a top-earning prostitute in Taylor Hackford's upcoming film about Nevada's first legal brothel. She plays opposite Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci as Samantha Smoke, the house's most desirable resident.
"I play the highest earning prostitute, so of course her whole being is about sex: to please men and to make love with men, either physically or psychologically. She's the expert; she's like a movie star in that ranch. She has long black hair and her walk, her talk – she's totally a sexy goddess walking on earth. Every movie, I'm making love. I feel like I'm a fairytale sex goddess who landed from the moon for men to enjoy and appreciate, and for women to know themselves through her."
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