Fallen Angels (1995 film)

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Fallen Angels
Traditional 墮落天使
Simplified 堕落天使
Mandarin Duòluò tiānshǐ
Cantonese Do6 Lok6 Tin1 Sai2
Literally Fallen angels
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Produced by Jeffrey Lau
Written by Wong Kar-wai
Music by Roel A. Garcia
Frankie Chan
Cinematography Christopher Doyle
Mark Lee Ping Bin
Joe Chan
Jet Tone Productions
Distributed by Kino International
Release date
  • 6 September 1995 (1995-09-06)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office HK$7.5 million (Hong Kong)
US$0.2 million (US)[2]
Fallen Angels
Traditional Chinese 墮落天使
Simplified Chinese 堕落天使

Fallen Angels is a 1995 Hong Kong drama film written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro, 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 spiritual 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 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'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-mo (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a crazy delinquent who escapes prison. She helps him elude the police when they are searching for him. Ho 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.



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.

The Flying Pickets version of "Only You" was used in the last scene of the film.[3]

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."[4]

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."[5]

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."[6]

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.[7]

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]

Home media[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]

Awards and nominations
Ceremony Category Recipient Outcome
15th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film Fallen Angels Nominated
Best Director Wong Kar-wai Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Karen Mok Won
Best New Performer Chan Man-lei Nominated
Best Cinematography Christopher Doyle Won
Best Film Editing William Chang, Wong Ming-lam Nominated
Best Art Direction William Chang Nominated
Best Costume and Make-up Design William Chang Nominated
Best Original Score Frankie Chan, Roel A. Garcia Won
32nd Golden Horse Awards Best Film Editing William Chang, Wong Ming-lam Won
Best Art Direction William Chang Nominated
Best Cinematography Christopher Doyle Nominated
Best Original Film Score Frankie Chan Nominated
2nd Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Film of Merit Fallen Angels Won
1st Golden Bauhinia Awards Best Film Fallen Angels Nominated
Best Actor Takeshi Kaneshiro Nominated
Best Actress Michelle Reis Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Chan Fai-hung Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Karen Mok Won
Charlie Yeung Nominated
Best Cinematography Christopher Doyle Won
Omega's Most Creative Award Fallen Angels Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fallen Angels". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved December 14, 2017. 
  2. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=fallenangels.htm Fallen Angels, Box Office Mojo, Retrieved 2011.07.22
  3. ^ Nochimson, Martha P., ed. (2016-01-26). A Companion to Wong Kar-wai (2016 ed.). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. p. 451. ISBN 9781118424247. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Roger Ebert (19 June 1998). "Fallen Angels". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  5. ^ Dargis, Manohla (7 February 2005). "We're Sorry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  6. ^ J. Hoberman (7 August 2007). "Redeeming Feature". Village Voice. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  7. ^ "The Best Films of the 1990s". Retrieved 28 October 2012. 

External links[edit]