• James Rutherford

'Fallen Angels': Wong Kar-wai's Exhilarating Tale of Intersecting Lives on the Streets of Hong Kong


Movie poster for the film Fallen Angels

"Fallen Angels" ("Duòluò Tiānshǐ") (1995) is a moody and often exhilarating crime drama starring Wong Chi-Ming as Leon Lai, a career hitman residing in modern day (mid-90's) Hong Kong. Wong operates in partnership with a lithesome young woman (Michelle Reis) who serves as his agent—arranging his professional assignments though they rarely meet in person.


The young unnamed woman harbors a burning passion for Wong that goes unrequited, as he soon falls into a lively affair with the eccentric Blondie (Karen Mok). Meanwhile, Wong's agent develops a friendship with Ho Chi-mo (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a mute prison escapee prone to commandeering private businesses and other outlandish behavior. Ho unexpectedly falls in love with young Cherry (Charlie Yeung), a heartbroken damsel who ensnares him in a complex game of entanglement. As the storyline progresses, all five principals cross paths intermittently as their lives entwine and diverge dramatically.


Written and directed by celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai ("Chungking Express", "In the Mood For Love"), "Fallen Angels" is an impassioned and playful tale of embroilment. Wong's characters carry weighty emotional baggage through their assorted capers and episodes of misbehavior, bringing unexpected sentiment to their misdeeds. Unorthodox and not for all tastes, it's a unique tale of escapism delivered with vigor and dauntless clarity of vision—Wong's well-established and unapologetic trademark.

 

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