Wong Kar-wai has directed some of my favourite foreign movies including 2046 (2004) and In the Mood for Love (2000), which incidentally was the highest placed film from this century in the recent Sight and Sound critic’s poll. Then of course there’s the magnificent Chungking Express (1994), this romantic love story was Wong’s breakthrough film set in and around Hong Kong’s infamous Chungking Mansions, a vast complex of shabby hostels, bars and clubs. This stylised film tells the stories of two lovelorn cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung) and the women with whom they become involved: a mysterious blond wigged drug dealer, Brigitte Lin (the Chinese Greta Garbo) and an impulsive young dreamer Faye Wong (Hong Kong’s foremost female rock star known as the Mandarin Madonna). Coincidently this film was Brigitte Lin’s last, retiring to get married, and Faye Wong’s first.
|The mesmerising Michelle Reis.|
|Takeshi Kaneshiro with Charlie Yeung.|
His next film the award winning Fallen Angels (1995) was originally intended to be the third act of Chungking Express but the first two parts turned out to be so well balanced, one story in the daytime the other at night and was also longer than expected therefore it was decided to expand the third part as a stand alone film and is now regarded as a sequel or a companion piece to the original movie. Wong describes this story as the other side of the can with a large amount of role reversal for example Takeshi Kaneshiro (Wu Xia 2011, Red Cliff 2008, House of Flying Daggers 2004) plays one of the policeman in the first film, in this one he plays the mute criminal, a role which needed him to express his emotions and performance through movement. Other characters involved are a contract killer, Leon Lai, his beautiful agent, Michelle Reis, the manager of the Chungking Hotel, again played by its real life manager and various other kooky love interests including Charlie Yeung and Karen Mok. The story, like most of Wong’s films, is not really important; we are talking style over substance here and none the worst for it. You’ll also notice a Fassbinder touch with the use of mirrors, the odd use of black and white, some fantastic camera angles, as well as Wong’s other normal distinguishing traits.
|Killer and his Agent.|
Why do I love Wong Kar-wai’s films so much? On the simplest level they just arouse such cinematic emotion while watching them you could almost masturbate over their brilliance. This Shanghai born Hong Kong filmmaker is the most stylish director on the planet, using the coolest looking actors and actresses who can surmount the improvised scripts, also preferring to use the same team of technicians, we get ‘out of this world’ soundtrack’s that even put’s Tarantino in the shade, an expressionistic colour palette which in many of his films make’s Hong Kong’s neon lights look more appealing then any country side scenery and with gorgeous cinematography by the Hong Kong based Australian born Christopher Doyle make Wong’s films completely distinctive. Even when he shifted to an English language speaking film with My Blueberry Nights (2007) he did not stray from his successful filmmaking formula.
|Always the coolest of casts.|