Duoluo tianshi

(Fallen Angels, Hong Kong -1995)

by Vanes Naldi

Cast: Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Charlie Yeung, Karen Mok, Toru Saito
Genre: Romance
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Screenplay: Wong Kar-Wai
Cinematography: Chris Doyle
Composer: Roel A. Garcia, Frankie Chan
Runtime: 90 minutes

This was Wong Kar-Wai's next film after the excellent "Chungking Express." It repeats many of the elements found in that film, some in referential fashion while others are applied from the beginning. Certainly, you can expect three things every time you approach one of Wong's works:
1) amazingly filmed scenes with tons of different methods including handheld, freeze-frame, time-lapse, & blurred shots
2) non-conventional, non-linear storylines that interlace the characters in a seemingly invisible line
3) an extremely effective and beautiful soundtrack, portraying Hong Kong's most fascinating aspect the contrast and mixture of western culture and Asian heritage.

The story is again told in a way that spares us of many details, focusing only on the characters, what they do, and why they do it. There isn't a linear plot. However, it is easier to follow this "story" than Chungking Express because the characters are different and more connected to each other. We have a professional killer and his female manager. We also meet a guy who lost the ability to speak after eating expired pineapple cans (a pretty obvious reference to Chungking Express). His occupation is to "reopen" stores at night and make money doing the weirdest possible things like trying to wash people's hair without their permission to the point they PAY him to not do it.

In Chungking Express, the plot was very important to give a message, to portray the many facets of love. Here, it's not as important. We see the change in the life of all 3 main characters, what happens to them, why it happens, how it evolves, and how it continues. There's isn't much "beef" to add, but there are a few major happenings for all three, again subliminally interlaced, that change each of the three characters' life.

I feel silly writing about the plot of any of Wong's films since every time it's represented in such a different way that it's really difficult to convey the greatness of his vision on paper. If you don't open yourself up to understand his style, you're just left with solid, yet unimpressive acting and a confusing story. This film, like every Wong's film is like a visual trip of amazing imagery. The many different ways Chris Doyle films Fallen Angels are so particular, so different and impressive that they could ALONE be the main entertainment of the movie. There are great "claustrophobic" shots that often perfectly represent the contrast between limited space & chaos that is Hong Kong, sometimes it's so overwhelming it might confuse you.

The soundtrack is really different from Chungking Express. It's more trip hop oriented with a beautiful Cantonese version of Massive Attack's "Karmacoma" and some very good examples of the HK trip-hop scenes that add to the moody feeling.

Fallen Angels is like anime with real actors, a "living, breathing manga." It's so stunning in its visuals that everything else seems unimportant, even the script and the characters. It's silly, funny, involving and eventually one of the most "alternative" motion pictures I have ever seen.


Gift Set DVD

Gift Set DVD
Gift Set DVD

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