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Fallen Angels

Released: 1995

Genre: Romance

Runtime: 1 hr 35 min

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: Wong Kar Wai

Starring: Leon Lai, Takashi Kaneshiro, Charlie Young, Michelle Reis, Karen Mok

An unofficial sequel to Chungking Express, in which a hit man and his accomplice yearn for each other from afar.

Wildly kinetic.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 7 years ago

Some movies are so cool that just the simple act of watching one of them makes you feel cool, too. Fight Club is like that, along with Oldboy, Ichi the Killer, Waking Life and Reservoir Dogs. Let’s add another one to the list: Wong Kar-Wai’s wildly kinetic Fallen Angels.

Fans of Kar-Wai’s work (Ashes of Time, Happy Together, Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, 2046 – I highly recommend just about everything he’s ever done, except for the English-language My Blueberry Nights) know that he’s basically a glorified music video director – the greatest music video director who ever lived. He’s particularly adept at picking the perfect pop song. His sense of style and color makes every image look like it belongs in an art gallery. No other filmmaker thrills me this way, except for maybe Oliver Stone before he did Alexander (i.e., before he got off the drugs).

Fallen Angels follows three different characters, each moving through a Hong Kong nightscape that’s alternately violent, romantic and playful. A hit man (Leon Lai) carries out a number of assignments; these scenes pay homage to John Woo’s over-the-top, every-last-motherfucker-is-going-to-die shoot ‘em-ups (Hard Boiled, The Killer). Michelle Reis plays his accomplice, a knockout who fantasizes about him from afar but never acts on her desires.

The third character (played by Takeshi Kaneshiro, in the film’s funniest performance) hasn’t been able to talk since the age of five, when he ate an out-of-date can of pineapples. He spends most of his nights breaking into stores – not to steal anything, just to play at running a business. Much like the first two characters, he falls for someone who can’t love him back. Kar-Wai is the cinema’s great poet of unfulfilled romantic yearning (see In the Mood for Love, especially).

Fallen Angels is low on story but high on made-your-jaw-drop aesthetics; even the golden arches of a McDonald’s sign look heavenly when embellished by Christopher Doyle’s camera. The final scene, set to the amazing a cappella song “Only You” by The Flying Pickets, is somewhere near the top of my list of Greatest Things Ever Committed to Celluloid.