Wong Kar-Wai

Wong Kar-wai (born July 17, 1958) is a Hong Kong based film director known for his unique visual style of romantic art films. He often wears dark sunglasses.

Born in Shanghai, he moved to Hong Kong with his parents at the age of five. Coming from the Mainland and speaking only Mandarin and Shanghainese, he had a difficult period of adjustment to Cantonese speaking Hong Kong, spending hours in movie theatres with his mother. After graduating from Hong Kong Polytechnic College in graphic design in 1980, he enrolled in the Production Training Course organized by Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and became a full-time television scriptwriter. He subsequently graduated to feature film work. He is credited with about ten scripts between 1982 and 1987, covering an array of genres from romantic comedy to action drama, but claims to have worked to some extent or another on about fifty more without official credit (Hoover and Stokes, 1999). He considers Final Victory (1986), a dark comedy/crime story for director Patrick Tam, his best script.

Cover of Wong Ka Wai DVD collection box setHe made his directing debut in 1988 with As Tears Go By. It was a crime melodrama of the kind then hugely popular, and with heavy borrowings from Martin Scorsese"s Mean Streets (1974), but already displayed one of his principal trademarks in its atmospheric and sometimes expressionistic color palette. It is his only box office hit to date.

His next film, Days of Being Wild (1991), a drama about aimless youth set in the early 1960s, established his trademark form: elliptically plotted mood pieces, with lush visuals and music, about the burden of memory on melancholy, misfit characters. Days was a box office failure but now regularly tops Hong Kong critics" polls of the best local films ever made. It has been described as a sort of Cantonese Rebel Without a Cause.

He also established his own independent production company, called Jet Tone Films Ltd. in English. His partner in the company is Jeffrey Lau, a director and producer who tends to work closer to the populist vein of mainstream Hong Kong film.

Wong went on to direct several more feature films in the 1990s produced by Jet Tone, which allowed him to work at his own pace. Among these were Chungking Express (1994), which follows the lives of two love-struck cops and mysterious women. In the same vein Fallen Angels (1995), often considered a third segment or sequel of Chungking Express, is a neo-noir focused on a disillusioned killer trying to overcome the affections of his partner, a strange drifter looking for her ex-boyfriend, and a mute trying to get the world"s attention in his own ways, all set against a sordid and surreal urban nightscape.

Wong"s fourth movie, Ashes of Time (1994), released between Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, applied his approach to a star-studded wuxia (martial arts swordplay) story; the desert shoot in Mainland China dragged on for over a year and resulted in one of contemporary Hong Kong cinema"s most notorious commercial disasters.

His first major international recognition was at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival where he won the Best Director prize for Happy Together (1997). A film that "uses gorgeous, saturated images set to an eclectic soundtrack of classic tangos, torch songs and Frank Zappa instrumentals to chronicle the stormy affair of a gay couple living as expatriates in Buenos Aires."

Despite his background as a scriptwriter, one of Wong"s trademarks as a director is that he works largely through improvisation and experimentation involving the actors and crew rather than adhering to a fixed screenplay. This has been a frequent source of trouble for his actors, his financial backers and many other people connected with his films, including sometimes himself.

The filming of In the Mood for Love (2000) had to be shifted from Beijing to Macau after the China Film Bureau demanded to see the completed script. This was all in all a minor setback in the "very complicated evolution" of the project which goes as far back as 1997. It was Wong"s intention to make two films, one of which would be titled Beijing Summer, the plot unclear at the time, but eventually taking form in Macau. Here Wong planned to call it Three Stories About Food, but saw it better to settle for only one story, A Story About Food, that centers on a writer. Together with scenes shot in Bangkok and Angkor Wat, the filming took as long as 15 months. This was an especially arduous time for lead actress Maggie Cheung whose hair and makeup reportedly took a daily five hours, and who appeared in different cheongsams in each scene. She famously compared the lengthy shoot to a cold she couldn"t get rid of. Working without deadlines, the film"s upcoming premier at Cannes nonetheless put some pressure on Wong to finish editing. Intending to name the film Secrets he was dissuaded by Cannes, and finally named it In the Mood for Love after Bryan Ferry"s cover of the song "I"m in the Mood for Love" he was listening to. (Christopher Doyle, William Chang and Wong Kar-wai on the set of 2046 in Shanghai, ChinaIt is now well known that a running joke amongst the crew of 2046 (2004), a film about capturing lost memories, was that he would finish in the year 2046.

In February 2006, Screen International reported that Norah Jones would be making her acting debut in Wong Kar-wai"s first full English language film. However where it had been believed that this project would be the Nicole Kidman attached vehicle The Lady from Shanghai, it was announced that his English debut would now be My Blueberry Nights and that production would start in New York.

It has been reported that My Blueberry Nights will be co-produced by Wong Kar-wai"s Jet Tone Productions and StudioCanal, whilst The Lady from Shanghai would be rescheduled for 2007.
Wong Kar-wai has directed various short films, television commercials, music videos, or combinations thereof, all faithful to his style.

In 1996 he made wkw/tk/[email protected]′55″hk.net for Japanese designer Takeo Kikuchi, featuring Tadanobu Asano and Karen Mok; in 1998 he directed a commercial for Motorola also featuring Tadanobu Asano, this time with Faye Wong; in 2000 he shot a commercial for Suntime Wine with Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung, and one for JCDecaux, Un matin partout dans le monde, featuring different kinds of dawns in cities around the world shot by famous movie directors; in 2001 he made the TV spot Dans la ville for the French mobile network company Orange France and finally in 2002 he directed La Rencontre, a commercial for Lacoste featuring Chang Chen and Diane MacMahon. In addition to this he shot the 2001 short-film The Hire: The Follow as part of the BMW films initiative.

In 2000 Wong directed a music video of Tony Leung"s duet with Niki of a song from the In the Mood for Love soundtrack to be included in Tony Leung"s CD by the same name and on the French DVD release of In the Mood for Love. In 2002 Wong made the music video Six Days for DJ Shadow featuring Chen Chang and Danielle Graham.

His short film Hua Yang De Nian Hua is a montage of scenes from vintage Chinese films, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s, set to a song from the soundtrack of In the Mood for Love, it was shown at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival.

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Do lok tin si (Wong Kar-Wai, 1995) (PAL, Region 5) (DVD-PAL)

Do lok tin si (Wong Kar-Wai, 1995) (PAL, Region 5) (DVD-PAL)

Attention: This DVD is in PAL video format and also Region-5 encoded...

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