Fallen Angels was originally planned as one section of director Wong Kar-Wai's best-known film, Chungking Express, but eventually it grew into its own distinct and delirious shape. In many ways, Fallen Angels may be the b... more »etter film, a dark, frantic fun-house ride through Hong Kong's nighttime world. Part of the film is a love story between two people who have barely met: a young, ultra-hip hit man (Leon Lai) and the dreamy operative (Michele Reis) who plans his jobs. Much of the movie is given over to a very strange subplot about a manic mute (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who goes on bizarre nocturnal prowls through a closed food market--like almost everything else in Wong's films, this is antic, stylish, and oddly touching, all at the same time. It must be said that, also like Wong's other films, Fallen Angels is fragmented and oblique to the point of occasional incomprehensibility?but then suddenly something wild or wonderful happens, such as the moment when the killer leaves the scene of a spectacular shooting and is promptly waylaid by a cheerful old school chum on a public bus. These coups--whether lyrical, violent, or simply "how on earth did they get that shot?"--are tossed off by Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle with all the cool of the hired killer, as though the movie were a cigarette dangling from a pair of oh-so-casual lips. This is exactly why so many otherwise calm critics fell all over themselves in hailing Wong Kar-Wai as one of the most exciting filmmakers of his generation. --Robert Horton« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 12/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""We all need a partner, when will I find mine ?" seems to be the theme running through all of Wong Kar-Wai's films, as well as his other usual ingredients: Mind-bending speed, innovative camera work (by Christopher Doyle), a great soundtrack, and a gorgeous cast. He also manages to show the murky side of society while never losing touch with its humanity. We see that even a cold-blooded hit man can have a side that's endearing.Takeshi Kaneshiro as the mute is the shining star of this film. He's brilliant and lovable. The "May 30th 1995, I fell in love" scene is one I adore. In slow motion black and white, the background moves at different speeds, fades in and out...it's a piece of pure magical art, a painting come to life.Like "Chungking Express", it slows down during the second half, and to me, this is when it gets even better. There is so much to see in this film, I know I'll be viewing it many more times, and appreciating its inventiveness...and through the darkness, its sweet soul."
A Master's Best
Craig L. Sayre | Magalia, CA United States | 05/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wong Kar-Wai has become my favorite director. He's as talented as Kurasawa, Fellini, Wells, Antonioni, Bergman or Altman. My favorite of his films, maybe because it is the last one I (re)viewed is "Fallen Angels". Wong Kar-Wai has a way of expressing longing that is neither cloying nor sentimental. His films are touching in a deeply profound manner. "Fallen Angels" is the double story of a hitman and his partner and a mute man with a unique business sense. Hilarious and over the top violent at the same time, Wong Kar-Wai pulls this off without a single misstep.
Visually stunning, this film looks like no other, save perhaps "Chungking Express" (which I plan to re-watch this afternoon). It's "Chungking Express" at night. Planned originally as a third episode of "Chungking Express" this film stands alone as a masterpiece of Kar-Wai's art. There are minor illusions to "Chungking Express" which allow the viewer to feel a continuity of spirit and theme. For instance, the mute midnight shop clerk played by Takeshi Kaneshiro mentions in voice-over that he lost his ability to speak after eating a tin of expired pineapple. This will resonate with viewers who have seen "Chungking Express" and bring to mind the character he played in that film. These are blood brothers. Variations of the same love-sick, lonely man.
Kar-Wai's films remind me of Altman in the 70's. You watch his films and wonder why all other directors are so unimaginative and pedestrian. Why does he seem to be the only director doing anything new and unique while even the most celebrated directors just recycle the same old [stuff] you've seen a hundred times before? He's an original. The look, the emotional feel and the grammar of his films belongs to no one else.
Any synopsis of his storyline can only diminish their scope and complexity, so I won't even try. It is enough to know his film resonate for days after viewing. They stick in your mind like something experienced first hand. They are fizzy, giddy, forlorn and hopeful. The final scene of "Fallen Angels" brings tears to my eyes everytime I see it, even though I know what is coming. It is a testament to the complexity and honesty of his vision that an emotional response is assured in the viewer. His characters are so honestly portrayed you wish you knew them in life. You want to call them on the phone and meet for a drink in a smokey, neon lit bar found only in a Wong Kar-Wai film. You end up feeling very protective of these characters, as you would with people you know and cannot quite reach. Cannot quite assure they are alright and worth loving. Cannot assure they deserve happiness."
A great movie
Paul S. Ercolano | new york, ny | 05/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fallen Angels is a truly special film, but it's not for everyone. It's gritty in a stylish way, shot mostly handheld with available light. But it's not gritty in the way most American pictures are; shaky cameras with perfect lighting and snappy editing. The takes are long, and the film is often grainy.
Wong Kar-Wai explores the transitory nature of life here. It's a little confusing, and the characters are beyond weird, but they really do have heart. The frantic pace and confusion give way to brief, precious moments of poignancy. The bleakness and impermanence of the rest of the film makes these moments feel even more meaningful.
If this sounds like your style, the movie can be very rewarding. But it's definitely not everyone's style. I find Chungking Express is generally a more palatable Wong Kar-Wai picture for viewers with more mainstream tastes."
Stunning images, enigmatic stories -- an exceptional and exc
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 04/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Three individuals whose lives intersect and parallel form the core of this stunningly photographed, moody and intense cinematic masterpiece. A hitman who is getting tired of the messiness of his job; his partner, who plans everything out for him in meticulous detail but would really like to cross the line with him between business and pleasure; a mute, who breaks into other people's businesses at night and forces unwitting passersby to purchase his wares. They rarely ever meet, but they share the same spaces, and sleep the same hours. The film alternates between: the intensely cool portrayal of a hitman with all the style of a Hollywood badboy, and all of the mellow of a Spaghetti Western antihero -- the femme fatale lonely longing that simmers with an undercurrent of anger of his partner -- and the slapstick comic silliness of the mute. The faded neon lights, the eclectic and moody music, the kinetic and flowing camera -- this is unlike anything you've seen unless you've seen a Wong Kar-Wai film and if you have you know that he doesn't ever quite repeat himself. This film shares a good deal with the atmosphere of Chungking Express, but is darker and more moody, and in many ways more intense and exciting -- I love both films but this one has an edginess that you don't find in the other -- you might say that Chungking is the day film and this is the night. One connection between the films is that the mute in this film is played by the same actor as the pineapple-eating policeman in Chungking Express. Their characters share the same name, He Xiwu, and this one lost his voice as a result of eating bad pineapple from an expired can -- but they are not exactly the same as this one never was a policeman and allegedly lost his voice at age 5. A beautiful and exciting film -- definitely one to see for lovers of the art of film."
Film of the Month
devilcakes | Austin, TX | 05/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is Wong Kar-Wai the world's most exciting film-maker? Fallen Angels, his fifth feature and the follow-up to Chungking Express, constitutes strong evidence in his favor. With enough manic energy to fuel ten ordinary films, Wong has created a sublime, freewheeling, melancholy action-romance which switches and subverts genres in the blink of an eye. One second it's an all-guns-blazing John Woo homage, the nexts it's a goofball slapstick, the next it's a hymn to lost or hoped for love. Plotwise the film is just as unsettled, with numerous plots and characters careening through the neon-blurred Hong Kong night. Singer Leon Lai is Killer, a gun-for-hire who has an unconsummatable crush on Agent, the partner he has never met (played by former Miss HK Michelle Reis). In the same orbit circulates ex-con Ho (Chungking's Takeshi Kanashiro), a mute who earns his living by breaking into places of business by night and forcing his services upon unwitting 'customers'. Wong sets these characters up and then cuts them loose, allowing them to be propelled through the film by the kineticism of their own thoughts, schemes and dreams.Cinematographer Chris Doyle and editor/production designer William Chang help Wong create a film that looks, feels and moves like no other; quite literally reconfiguring cinematic time and space with spastic yet graceful narrative structure, rule-breaking, arrhythmic editing, forced perspectives and smeared action scenes. It's a dizzying, disorienting experience, shot almost entirely hand-held with a wide-angle lens and often in extreme close-up. Strip away the flash, however, and Wong's vision remains compelling; it's easy to relate to his dreamers, loners and misfits, wandering rainy streets and haunting dark bars looking for people with which they can connect and places where they can belong. Funny, stylish, sensual and ultimately very moving, Fallen Angels leaves you in no doubt that, yes, Wong Kar-Wai is the world's most exciting film-maker."