Kar Wai Wong
- Jul 17, 1956
- Shanghai, China
Bio: Wong Kar-wai (traditional Chinese: 王家衛; simplified Chinese: 王家卫; pinyin: Wáng Jiāwèi; Cantonese Yale: Wòhng Gà Waih; born July 17, 1958) is a Hong Kong film director, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylized films.
Born in Shanghai, he moved to Hong Kong with his parents… More Bio: Wong Kar-wai (traditional Chinese: 王家衛; simplified Chinese: 王家卫; pinyin: Wáng Jiāwèi; Cantonese Yale: Wòhng Gà Waih; born July 17, 1958) is a Hong Kong film director, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylized films.
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. In the mid-1980s, he became a scriptwriter/director at The Wing Scope Co. and In-gear Film Production Company, the production houses owned by renowned Hong Kong actor /movie producer Alan Tang Kwong-Wing. Wong's current nostalgic artsy style took shape during his apprenticeship with Alan Tang Kwong-Wing, who invested in the first movie Wong directed, "As Tears Go By" (1988). Wong's career took off when he directed the film "Days of Being Wild" (1990), despite losing Alan Tang millions of invested dollars. Wong 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. He considers Final Victory (最後勝利, 1986), a dark comedy/crime story for director Patrick Tam, his best script.
He 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 in Hong Kong and the mysterious women they meet and fall in love with. Originally intended to be a distraction piece for him to get his mind off of the heavily delayed Ashes of Time, it ended up being one of his most popular films, if not the most popular. Fallen Angels (1995), was originally intended to be the third act of Chungking Express, but when the tone didn't fit with the other two parts, he cut it out and made it a standalone movie instead; it is seen as a semi-sequel to Chungking Express as is a neo-noir film about 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 tango by Argentinian maestro Astor Piazolla, Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso and Frank Zappa instrumentals to chronicle the stormy affair of a gay couple living as expatriates in Buenos Aires." In fact, tracing back to his early career, Wong did celebrate his success without being grateful to his mentor, Alan Tang Kwong-Wing. Wong mentioned Tang's name in his thank you speech at the award ceremony.
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.
Wong's 2046 (2004), a film about capturing lost memories, was the third chapter of a shared story that began with Days of Being Wild and continued with In the Mood for Love. Infamous for long drawn out shoots without any real regards to deadlines, a running joke amongst the crew was that he would finish in the year 2046.
In 2006, he became the first Chinese director to preside the jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
In February 2006, Screen International reported that Norah Jones would make her acting debut in Wong Kar-wai's first full English-language film, My Blueberry Nights. The film opened the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as one of 22 films in competition.
Wong Kar-wai has directed various short films, television commercials, music videos, or combinations thereof, all faithful to his style.
In 1996 he shot wkw/tk/1996@7′55″hk.net for Japanese designer Takeo Kikuchi, starring Tadanobu Asano and Karen Mok; in 1998 he did a commercial for Motorola starring Tadanobu and Faye Wong; in 2000 he produced a commercial for Suntime Wine with Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung, and directed another 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 shot the TV spot Dans la ville for the French mobile network company Orange France and the short film The Hire: The Follow as part of the BMW films initiative; in 2002 he directed La Rencontre, a commercial for Lacoste starring Chang Chen and Diane MacMahon; in 2005 he filmed an ad for Dior's Capture Totale perfume starring Sharon Stone. Around September 21, 2006, in Prague, he directed a commercial (released in early 2007) for Lancôme Paris's Hypnôse Homme perfume starring Clive Owen and Daria Werbowy. Around June 25, 2007, again in Prague, he directed a set of commercials for SoftBank, starring Brad Pitt. Also in 2007 he directed an ad for Dior's Midnight Poison perfume starring Eva Green and featuring Muse's song "Space Dementia". On August 30, 2007, "There's Only One Sun", a short film he scripted and directed for Philips' Aurea HD Flat TV, starring Amélie Daure, premiered at the IFA in Berlin.
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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