Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai has been one of the favorites of movie audiences and critics for decades, and that’s not surprising because he is the author of a recognizable, unique style. It’s a director with a distinct sense of the visual, and this wild crime romance could also be described as Wong’s answer to Jean-Luc Godard’s “Until the Last Breath.” This avant-garde neo-noir film is composed of two almost unrelated stories, and “Fallen Angels” is also considered a kind of continuation of his previous film “Chunkging Express”. Wong himself pointed out for “Fallen Angels” that this sometimes quite violent crime film is the other side of the coin and with that film he wanted to show a darker side and intentionally wanted to balance the sweetness of its predecessor.
“Fallen Angels” was filmed in a completely atypical genre-wise, and so typical for Wong, fragmentary, even slightly experimental style with a hand-held camera, and narratively rather incoherently. Originally, “Fallen Angels” was supposed to be a part of the previous film, but in the end, Wong made a separate film that may not be among his best and most successful films, but it is still an exceptional film that the vast majority of filmmakers will never manage to make in their lives. . What has always fascinated me about Wong is his need to be completely different from the rest and his ability to make a film that no one else could make. Just like similar unique and recognizable greats like Bergman, Fellini, Leone or Tarantino, for whom the viewer is clear from the first scene who is behind the camera, this is the situation with this interesting author who, unfortunately, has been a bit quiet in the last fifteen years.
The nineties and the beginning of the 2000s were the years when Wong was at his creative peak, and after a not overly successful trip to America with “My Blueberry Nights” and the mediocre “The Grandmaster” from 2013, he didn’t even record anything. However, the films he made in his best phase are among the pinnacle of cinematography, and “Fallen Angels” reminded me of Godard’s famous New Wave crime film “To the Last Breath” in terms of its energy and rebelliousness. The film with which the legendary Frenchman broke practically all standard film conventions and rules and introduced mainstream film into modernism, and Wong did the same with the East Asian film. Even today, many stylized neo-noirs are filmed in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan under the obvious influence of Wong Kar-Wai, but only a few manage to come close to him.
The first story “Fallen Angels” follows a member of a criminal organization and contract killer Wong (Leon Lai). He would retire from a job that was consuming him, and the woman he calls his “partner” lusts after him even though they barely know each other. She only marginally knows the main protagonist of the second segment of the film, a mute delinquent who avoids going to prison. “Partner” and Ho Chi-mo (Takeshi Kaneshiro) live in the same building, and he deals with a bizarre form of crime and steals other people’s jobs at night. Both segments, or both stories, take place at the same time, and Wong took a lot of liberties here, and “Fallen Angels” is perhaps his most avant-garde film at the same time. “Fallen Angels” can also be seen as a tribute to the great city that never sleeps, a wild crime romance bordering on comedy, a unique film whose magic you should surrender to and enjoy the vision of an unsurpassed master.