Wong Kar-Wai

1988
As Tears Go By 67
[ In this kinda-cheesy ‘80s gangster thriller, Wong Kar-Wai hasn’t come into his own quite yet, but you do sense the emergence of the artist. Andy Lau stars as a goon for the Hong Kong Triads who falls in love with his sick cousin (Maggie Cheung) but must constantly leave her to go clean the messes his “little brother” (Jacky Cheung) keeps putting himself into. The use of slow-motion and neon-lit cinematography calls to mind Michael Mann, but what sets Kar-Wai apart is his shameless romanticism and his hypnotic use of pop music. Take My Breath Away in Cantonese? Priceless. ]

1991
Days of Being Wild 62
[ “You’ll see me in your dreams tonight.” In 1960 Hong Kong, a playboy (Leslie Cheung) carelessly seduces then discards women (including Maggie Cheung and the lesser known but equally gorgeous Carina Lau), maybe in a subconscious attempt to get back at his mother for abandoning him as a child. With lush cinematography by Christopher Doyle and bittersweet use of rumba music, this second feature further establishes Ka-Wai as an original, impressionistic storyteller. It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s certainly a well crafted mood piece. ]

1994
Ashes of Time ???
[ Wuxia goes Nouvelle Vague in this nearly incomprehensible tale of, um, revenge or something. It doesn’t help that I could only find a crappy DVD transfer with questionable English subtitles. I sensed some stylish cinematography, almost-Morricone music and Wong Kar-Wai’s brand of romanticism somewhere in there, but not enough to feel like I’ve experienced the film properly. Someone needs to reedit this, pronto. Criterion, are you listening? ]

1994
Chungking Express 93
[ review ]

1995
Fallen Angels 80
[ review ]

1997
Happy Together 91
[ review ]

2000
In the Mood for Love 63
[ Wong Kar-Wai’s latest is as stylish and visually stunning as his previous films, but it unfolds in a much more understated, quiet and slow manner. You gotta love the exquisite shot composition, Maggie Cheung’s colorful print dresses, the hypnotically repetitive musical cues and Tony Leung’s slow-burn charm, but the plot is so thin and the characters so passive that you could skip and shuffle scenes at random (or turn off the subtitles) without losing much. ]

2005
2046 68
[ review ]

2007
My Blueberry Nights
[ Not sure why I’ve still yet to see this… ]

2013
The Grandmaster
[ I really need to catch up. It’s on Netflix and all… ]