In Wong Kar-wai's feature debut, which laid the thematic and stylistic basis of his filmography, a Hong Kong mob triad collector falls in love with his cousin and decides to settle down. Their joint happiness is threatened by his impulsive subordinates, who constantly go into debt.
Inspired by the phenomenal success of John Woo's A Better Tomorrow (1986) during the golden era of Hong Kong cinema, screenwriter Wong Kar-wai directed his own gangster thriller in the late 1980s. This dreary tale of a doomed youth generation stars Hong Kong's iconic cast, including Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, and Jacky Cheung, with Andrew Lau, who would soon become a successful filmmaker, the author of the crime franchise Internal Affairs. Seen retrospectively, As Tears Go By contains a lot of groundwork for the future, in terms of both Kar-wai's signature cinematic manner (confusing plot, torn editing, colorful neon) and his creative collaborations. Maggie Cheung, who plays "Mong Kok Carmen" (the film's original title), will go on to impersonate the director's main female character, In the Mood for Love's Su Li-zhen. The motif of friendship between two thugs—a cool gangster and a loser, just like most of the main actors, will migrate to Days of Being Wild. One of the roles was played by William Chang, the production designer of most of Kar-wai pictures. And even though the plot is still rooted in the tradition of Hong Kong crime thrillers, there is a place for poetry between the rumbles and vendettas, from the international title, shared with Marianne Faithfull's song As Tears Go By, to the famous kiss between Andy Lau and Maggie Cheung in a telephone booth.
The film will be screened in Cantonese with Russian subtitles.
As Tears Go By
Dir. Wong Kar-wai
Hong Kong, 1988. 102 min. 18+