Urban life

Exploring Hong Kong Through the Lens of Director Wong Kar-wai

From the Mid-Levels escalator to the neon-drenched streets of Mong Kok, we revisit the pivotal scenes from Wong Kar-wai's finest Hong Kong films

Few directors are as closely identified with a location as Wong Kar-wai is with Hong Kong. During the 1990s, the auteur made his name with classics that captured both the light and dark sides of the city, with characters longing to find their spiritual selves in the metropolis. Visually, the films shared a dreamlike, ethereal quality thanks to cinematographer Christopher Doyle, a longtime collaborator.

As Tears Go By (1988) 

Wong’s directorial debut, a gangster drama about the friendship between two small-time triad members (Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung), features the crowded, neon-drenched streets of Mong Kok as its main backdrop.

Days of Being Wild (1990) 

Wong’s first critically acclaimed film is also a fan favourite. To this day, many still visit key locations – like the stone wall which marks the junction of Castle Road and Conduit Road in Mid-Levels – to relive pivotal scenes.

Chungking Express (1994)

Credit: Archives du 7e Art/Jet Tone Production/AFP

The sights and sounds of Chungking Mansions, Lan Kwai Fong and the Central–Mid-Levels escalator play vital roles in this film. Cop 663 (Tony Leung)’s flat just off the escalator was actually cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s own pad at the time of filming.

Fallen Angels (1995) 

Credit: Archives du 7e Art/Block 2 Pictures/Jet Tone Productions/AFP

Shot mostly at night and in Tsim Sha Tsui – where Wong grew up – Fallen Angels was originally conceived as part of Chungking Express, but Wong ended up developing it into a separate film.

In the Mood for Love (2000)

In order to accurately portray Hong Kong’s run-down 1960s streets, Wong and Doyle shot much of the movie in Bangkok. Even so, the scene in which the protagonists (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) share their first meal together was filmed in Goldfinch Restaurant, a vintage ‘Western-style’ diner in Causeway Bay.

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