Few directors are as closely identified with a location as Wong Kar-wai is with Hong Kong. During the 1990s, the auteur made his name with classics that captured both the light and dark sides of the city, with characters longing to find their spiritual selves in the metropolis. Visually, the films shared a dreamlike, ethereal quality thanks to cinematographer Christopher Doyle, a longtime collaborator.
Wong’s directorial debut, a gangster drama about the friendship between two small-time triad members (Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung), features the crowded, neon-drenched streets of Mong Kok as its main backdrop.
Wong’s first critically acclaimed film is also a fan favourite. To this day, many still visit key locations – like the stone wall which marks the junction of Castle Road and Conduit Road in Mid-Levels – to relive pivotal scenes.
Credit: Archives du 7e Art/Jet Tone Production/AFP
The sights and sounds of Chungking Mansions, Lan Kwai Fong and the Central–Mid-Levels escalator play vital roles in this film. Cop 663 (Tony Leung)’s flat just off the escalator was actually cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s own pad at the time of filming.
Credit: Archives du 7e Art/Block 2 Pictures/Jet Tone Productions/AFP
Shot mostly at night and in Tsim Sha Tsui – where Wong grew up – Fallen Angels was originally conceived as part of Chungking Express, but Wong ended up developing it into a separate film.
In order to accurately portray Hong Kong’s run-down 1960s streets, Wong and Doyle shot much of the movie in Bangkok. Even so, the scene in which the protagonists (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) share their first meal together was filmed in Goldfinch Restaurant, a vintage ‘Western-style’ diner in Causeway Bay.
Hero image credit: Archives du 7eme Art/ Photo12/ AFP