Directed by Kar Wai Wong
Starring: Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Karen Mok
When his life as a professional killer begins to wear on him, Wong Chi-Ming (Lai) begins to prepare his exit strategy. He’s unsure of his decision because of his attachment to his partner (Reis), an attachment he knows is bad for business. As he continues to finalize his retirement, he crosses paths with a mute drifter (Kaneshiro) and an eccentric young woman (Mok) in search of her lost lover. These four people continue to cross paths, each searching for something they need to move forward in life.
This is one of the first Chinese films I’ve ever reviewed. Director Kar Wai Wong has a unique vision, and it was evident in this intensely visual film. The movie stars Leon Lai (Three), Michelle Reis (The Legend), Takeshi Kaneshiro (House of Flying Daggers), and Karen Mok (Black Mask). The story was written by Wong as well, and is set against the urban backdrop of Hong Kong.
This movie is stylistically unique from the beginning. The camera work is all done with wide angle lenses and intense lighting. At times this is a bit much to take in, but in small doses it’s really beautiful to see. The sound and the score work nicely with segments of the film as well. From a technical aspect, this is a great example of several techniques, but unfortunately, the film lacks cohesiveness.
The story feels as though it was written for the visuals, and not the other way around. This makes the movie a bit difficult to follow at times. The film is actually a set of stories that are told in segments throughout the film. This might work for Tarantino, but it didn’t work for Wong. Despite the visuals, I think this movie just doesn’t communicate clearly enough to be successful.
This is one that I would only recommend to film students, or fans of Hong Kong cinema. This is an exciting visual adventure with a very disappointing narrative. This is a movie that won’t work for many, but it’s got some highlights for students of cinematography. I give this one 2.4 out of 5 stars.