Fallen Angels (1995 film)

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This article is about the 1995 Hong Kong film. For other films with the same title, see Fallen angel (disambiguation).
Fallen Angels
Fallen-Angels-Poster.jpg
Traditional 墮落天使
Simplified 堕落天使
Mandarin Duòluò Tiānshǐ
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Produced by Jeffrey Lau
Written by Wong Kar-wai
Starring Leon Lai
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Michelle Reis
Charlie Yeung
Karen Mok
Distributed by Kino International
Release dates
  • 6 September 1995 (1995-09-06)
Running time 90 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Mandarin
Japanese
English
Box office HK$7,476,025 (HK)
$163,145 (US)[1]
Fallen Angels (1995 film)
Traditional Chinese 墮落天使
Simplified Chinese 堕落天使

Fallen Angels is a 1995 Hong Kong movie written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Leon Lai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Michelle Reis, Charlie Yeung, and Karen Mok.

Fallen Angels can be seen as a companion piece to Chungking Express. It was originally conceived as the third story for Chungking Express, but Fallen Angels can be considered a sequel due to similar themes, locations and methods of filming, while one of the main characters lives in the Chungking Mansions and works at the Midnight Express food stall.

Plot outline[edit]

The movie is composed of two stories that have little to do with each other except for a few casual run-ins when some of the characters happen to be in the same place at the same time. Both stories take place in Hong Kong.

Story One

The story begins with a hit man named Wong Chi-Ming (Leon Lai) and a woman he calls his "partner." They hardly know each other and rarely see each other but she cleans his dingy apartment in club clothes and faxes him blueprints of the places he's to hit. Infatuated with him, she frequents the bar he goes to just to sit in his seat and daydream about him. One late night, Wong Chi-Ming has a late night meal at McDonald's where he meets Blondie, a wild prostitute. While they spend time together, she has illusions that he's the ex-lover who left her for another woman. Wong Chi-Ming's partner finds out about the relationship and puts a hit out on him when he tells her he wants to quit, ending the partnership they have.

Story Two

Wong Chi-Ming's partner lives in the same building with Ho Chi Moo (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a crazy delinquent who escapes prison. She helps him elude the police when they are searching for him. Ho Chi Moo is mute and still lives with his father. For work, he breaks into other people's businesses at night and sells their goods and services, often forcibly to unwilling customers. He keeps running into the same girl at night, Charlie. Every time they meet, she cries on his shoulder and tells him the same sob story. Her ex-boyfriend Johnny left her for a girl named Blondie. Together they play games to look for Blondie, go see soccer matches at the stadium, hang out in restaurants, and take rides on his motorcycle. He falls in love. Somehow they lose touch for a few months but they run into each other while he's masquerading as a business owner. She's in a stewardess uniform, mentally fit, and in a new healthy relationship. She seems to have forgotten all about Ho Chi Moo.

Soundtrack[edit]

Featured in the "Fallen Angels" soundtrack is a version of "Forget Him" sung by Shirley Kwan, a reworking of the classic by Teresa Teng, and one of the very few 'contemporary' Cantopop songs ever used by Wong Kar Wai in his films. In the film, the song is used as a message from the hitman to his partner. One track played prominently throughout the film is "Because I'm Cool" by Nogabe "Robinson" Randriaharimalala. It samples Karmacoma by Massive Attack. The Laurie Anderson piece "Speak My Language" is used as well in a memorable masturbation scene.

The Flying Pickets version of "Only You" was used in the last scene of the Wong Kar-Wai film.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave Fallen Angels three stars out of a possible four:

"It's kind of exhausting and kind of exhilarating. It will appeal to the kinds of people you see in the Japanese animation section of the video store, with their sleeves cut off so you can see their tattoos. And to those who subscribe to more than three film magazines. And to members of garage bands. And to art students. It's not for your average moviegoers—unless of course, they want to see something new."[3]

Stephen Holden of the New York Times said:

"Fallen Angels is a densely packed suite of zany vignettes that have the autonomy of pop songs or stand-up comic riffs, all stitched together with repetitive shots of elevated trains, underground subway stations and teeming neon-lit streets. Although the story takes a tragic turn, the movie feels as weightless as the tinny pop music that keeps its restless midnight ramblers darting around the city like electronic toy figures in a gaming arcade."[4]

In the Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote:

"The acme of neo-new-wavism, the ultimate in MTV alienation, the most visually voluptuous flick of the fin de siécle, a pyrotechnical wonder about mystery, solitude, and the irrational love of movies that pushes Wong's style to the brink of self-parody."[5]

Hoberman and Amy Taubin both placed Fallen Angels on their lists for the top ten films of the decade while the Village Voice's decade-end critics poll placed Fallen Angels at No. 10, the highest-ranking of any Wong Kar-wai film.[6]

Box office[edit]

The film made HK$7,476,025 during its Hong Kong run.

On 21 January 1998, the film began a limited North American theatrical run through Kino International, grossing US$13,804 in its opening weekend in one American theatre. The final North American theatrical gross was US$163,145.

In 2004, Australian distribution company Accent Film Entertainment released a remastered widescreen version of the film [1] enhanced for 16x9 screens.[2]

DVD[edit]

Kino International, which currently distributes the film on DVD, is planning a re-release of the film from a new high-definition transfer on 11 November 2008. Kino released the film on Blu-ray Disc in America in 2010.

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=fallenangels.htm Fallen Angels, Box Office Mojo, Retrieved 2011.07.22
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112913/soundtrack SoundTrack List
  3. ^ Roger Ebert (19 June 1998). "Fallen Angels". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  4. ^ Dargis, Manohla (7 February 2005). "We're Sorry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  5. ^ J. Hoberman (7 August 2007). "Redeeming Feature". Village Voice. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  6. ^ "The Best Films of the 1990s". Retrieved 28 October 2012. 

External links[edit]