WONG KAR WAI is acknowledged as one of the most exciting and influential directors in contemporary world cinema.
His concerns are typically suppressed desire, isolation, memory, and the loneliness of urban landscapes; his style is dense, moody and lushly atmospheric. Wong belongs to the mid-1980s Second New Wave of Hong Kong filmmakers, which also includes directors Eddie Fong, Stanley Kwan and Clara Law. The Second Wave, is often seen as a continuation of the First, as many of these directors worked as assistants to First Wave directors such as Tsui Hark, Ann Hui and Patrick Tam (with whom Wong collaborated). Born in 1958 in Shanghai,Wong moved to Hong Kong with his parents when he was five years old. He obtained a diploma in graphic design from Hong Kong Polytechnic School, and became a television production assistant. Working on several TV drama series, he became a scriptwriter for TV and later for films in the 1980’s, including “The Final Victory” (1987), which his mentor Patrick Tam directed.
Wong Kar Wai’s directorial debut, “As Tears Go By” (1988), gave him the opportunity to work with actress Maggie Cheung for the first time. The film, which established Wong’s strong visual style, introduced him to the world film community as an up-and-coming talent at the 1989 Cannes International Film Festival, where it screened during “Critics’ Week.” Wong gathered together Hong Kong’s most popular young stars (including Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) for his next project, “Days of Being Wild” (1991). The film, set in a vividly imagined 1960, won five Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor (Leslie Cheung). The project was planned as the first of two-parts, but the second was never made.
In 1992, he convened another all-star cast of Hong Kong actors to make a period martial-arts drama, one which deliberately went against all the codes of the genre, in remote regions of China. The shoot for “Ashes of Time” lasted nearly two years. The film world-premiered at the 1994 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Award for Best Cinematography for Christopher Doyle. During a break in the post-production of “Ashes of Time,” Wong made “Chungking Express” (1994), an up-to-the-minute comedy of longing and romance. Tony Leung, Faye Wong and Brigitte Lin starred in the film, which became a cult hit in many countries. “Fallen Angels,” based on an idea for a sketch that was written for “Chungking Express” but dropped at the last minute, premiered at the 1995 Toronto Film Festival to widespread critical acclaim. The following year, he made a short film, entitled “wkw/tk/[email protected]’55”ht.net.” “Happy Together,” about two Chinese gay men exiled in Argentina during the hand-over of Hong Kong to China, was filmed on location (with pick-up shots done in Taipei). The film world-premiered at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival, where Wong was awarded the Best Director prize.
The film, which starred Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung, also featured Chang Chen, star of “The Hand.” “In the Mood for Love,” reuniting Wong with Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, was filmed in Hong Kong, Thailand, and at Angkor Wat (in Cambodia). At the 2000 Cannes International Film Festival, the film received awards for Best Actor (Tony Leung) and its three cinematographers. It also won prizes for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle and Pin Bing Lee) from the New York Film Critics Circle the following year. Wong next shot the short film, “The Follow,” starring Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke, for the BMW series “The Hire.”
The series also includes shorts by John Woo, Ang Lee, Tony Scott and Alejandro González I?árritu. He also directed a video for DJ Shadow called “Six Days,” which featured Chang Chen. Upcoming for Wong Kar Wai is his first science fiction film, “2046,” which was shot in various Asian countries with an international cast, including Gong Li, Chang Chen, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, and Faye Wong.
WONG KAR WAI Filmography