Born in Shanghai in 1958, Wong Kar-wai moved to Hong Kong when he was five. He started his career in TVB (Hong Kong’s premier TV Station) and by 1982 he had joined the film industry. However, it wasn’t until 1988, when he released his debut film, As Tears Go By, a crime/romance melodrama shaped in the mould of Scorsese’s Mean Streets and other filmmakers’ work such as John Woo and Jim Jarmusch…

As Tears Go By is not exceptional in its narrative structure, as it is a conventional story that follows the characteristics of the gangster genre. However, the film was a preparatory step for the final epiphany in Kar-wai’s cinema conceived as a project emerging out of the treadmill of mainstream fare of popular culture elements. It creates an awareness of the nature of the Hong Kong cinema that Kar-wai actively sought to counteract in his subsequent works.

His next film was Days of Being Wild (1991), a story continuing the hybrid of gangster and romance genres from his debut film, but Kar-wai started to introduce new experimentations in terms of narrative and his fascination with the 1960s. The film revolves around the s constant theme of longing, but most of all longing for love; unrequited love becomes an obsession when it happens in lives that are devoid of all other ambition. In this way, Kar-wai shows love as a destructive sickness. The film stars some of the best-known actors in Hong Kong including Leslie Cheung, Carina Lau, Maggie Cheung, and Andy Lau. Days of Being Wild also marked the first collaboration between Kar-wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, with whom he would work in eight of his films.

 Kar Wai himself commented that Chungking Express was a break from his big budget film, Ashes of Time

Days of Being Wild was a box office-failure, but it was enough for Kar-wai to build his credential as a director with spirit. His next film Chungking Express (1994) focuses on interlinked characters and their relationships. Kar-wai wrote an entirely original screenplay, using nothing from his source except two or three of its characters, whose back stories were completely fictional.

The film consists of two stories told in sequence, each about a Hong Kong policeman and his relationship with a woman. The first story stars Takeshi Kaneshiro and Brigitte Lin and the second stars Tony Leung, Faye Wong and Valerie Chow. The Chinese title translates to “Chungking Jungle”, referring to the metaphoric concrete jungle of the city, as well as to Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, where much of the first part of the film is set. The aesthetics of the film are simple, relying on nothing more than natural light and the documentary circumstances of shooting a low budget film; Kar Wai himself commented that Chungking Express was a break from his big budget film, Ashes of Time (1994).

 

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I am visual artist and film lover. I am particularly interested in world wide cinema and I like to share my thoughts about it.