Five Things You Didn’t Know about Wong Kar-Wai

Wong Kar-Wai is a famous film-maker from the Hong Kong film industry who has managed to achieve a fair amount of international recognition. Although he has produced his fair share of conventional movies, he is well-known for his fondness of particular themes as well as a recognizable visual style in his film-making. People who are interested in Wong’s works might be interested to know that he will be directing an online series called Tong Wars for Amazon Video, which will be about the inter-gang conflicts between the Chinese tongs in late 19th century San Francisco.

Here are five things that you may or may not have known about Wong Kar-Wai:

Moved to Hong Kong in His Childhood

When Wong was still a child, the Cultural Revolution started up in mainland China. As a result, his parents chose to relocate to Hong Kong with him in tow. Wong’s two older siblings were meant to join them in their new home a little later, but by that time, the borders had closed, meaning that Wong was not able to see either one of his siblings until around a decade later.

Part of the Second Wave

The Hong Kong New Wave started up in the late 1980s, which was a time when film was becoming the chief source of entertainment in China because most Chinese households lacked a TV. There was no style shared by the film-makers counted as part of the movement, but since a lot of them had received western educations, a lot of them were influenced by elements of western film-making such as what were then new technologies. Wong is considered to be part of the Second Wave of these film-makers, which was when their films began receiving international interest.

Made Days of Being Wild

In the 1990s, Wong made the movie called Days of Being Wild, which starred popular actors of the Hong Kong film industry but was more a character piece than what might be called a blockbuster. Said movie was meant to be more of a personal project than something intended to capture commercial success, so it should come as no surprise to learn that it showed some of the common signs of Wong’s signature style. For example, it is set in the 1960s, which has a special place in Wong’s heart. Furthermore, it was more concerned with its mood than with its plot.

Made Ashes of Time

The Hong Kong film industry is famous for its wuxia movies, so it should come as no surprise to learn that it has made numerous versions of famous wuxia classics such as The Legend of the Condor Heroes. At one point, Wong agreed to make a movie based on said novel in an effort to secure further funding for his own projects. The result was the rather unusual Ashes of Time, which was technically a prequel that focused on one of the most hated villains from the source material. Said movie was not successful from a commercial perspective, but it did manage to get a fair amount of attention from the critics.

Approaches Filmmaking In a Rather Unusual Manner

On a final note, Wong is famous for his rather unusual approach to filmmaking. For example, he prefers to start production without a script because he finds filming from a pre-written script to be boring. Instead, the cast members are provided with no more than a rough outline of the plot so that they can develop some of their characters on their own, while Wong fleshes out the rest through a combination of improvisation and time-honed instinct. Furthermore, Wong is famous for disallowing rehearsals because he wants his cast members to seem more natural and spontaneous on the movie screen.


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