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4.1 out of 5 stars
Fallen Angels [DVD]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
As part of Wong Kar Wai's auteristic ouvre, Fallen Angels is one of the finest examples of the New Hong Kong New Wave cinematic genre. This film encompasses Wai's (with the help of cinematographer Chris Doyle) artistic talents, as well as his comedic and heart wrenching writing abilities. Telling the conjoined tales of a hitman and his female agent, as well as Takeshi Kaneshiro in a superb role as a mute, unemployed twenty-something, who forces his services upon members of the public (not in a rude way), Fallen Angels represents the fears of alienation upon the transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule in a moving way, regardless of the country you come from.
All I can say is, this film is an essential watch, whether you enjoy action comedy films, artistic films, asian cinema or you just want to try something different. Give it a go and you won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2007
Fallen Angels could have been so named due to its dropped origin as part of director Wong Kar Wai's previous film Chunking Express, emerging afterwards as a follow up. To hear the critics tell it, `Express' is his masterpiece, regularly making the `best movies ever made' lists along side such exalted company as your Citizens Kane's and Casablanca's. But for me Fallen Angels is, to date, the daddy of the Wong Kar Wai canon.

Fallen Angel tells of a not quite burnt-out hit man, Leon, who begins to tire of the whole `gun for hire' malarkey and decides to quit on account of his burgeoning feelings for the female operative who he has never met, but who plans his jobs for him. The female operative, Michelle, also emotes for our existential assassin but somehow they both realise that if they ever did come face to face the fantasy would evaporate. The unrequited love thing is Kar Wai's forte but here it is more a case of "As long as you don't look at it, it won't disappear." So their love continues on the basis of ensuring that it never really exists. Anxious to avoid an inevitable unprofessional encounter, our navel gazing killer goes off on an adventure into the Kowloon night where he crosses paths with a series of likable reprobates before embarking on that fatal "one last job."

This takes us not so neatly into a `mad as a hatter' subplot about a petty criminal who was rendered mute as a boy by a can of `out of date' pineapples. He goes out at night and gets up to a range of activities such as massaging a dead pig and kidnapping a family and forcing them to eat ice cream. He to falls in love, with a girl who believes she has been beaten to the altar by someone called Blondie. He helps her go in search of the usurper of her affections resulting in a hilarious beating up of a blow up doll!

Cinematographer and Kar Wai regular Christopher Doyle engages a warped and gaudy neon look throughout; something of a trade mark in Kar Wai films. This is the world from inside a Wurlitzer juke box - or, at least, through the eyes of a tranquilised goldfish and this, incidentally, is not a complaint. The other thing I like about this film is that it walks the line between the art house `heart warmers' of the best of European cinema and the `Glock Opera' pyrotechnics of John Woo and Ringo Lam.

Genre clash - it's the future.

Adrian Stranik
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2006
"Fallen Angels", directed by Wong Kar Wai, is the kind of film you cannot explain, but must see. Why? Because it manages to transmit the feelings of isolation, love, hope and despair of its main characters, characters that are not like you or me, but that feel the same things we sometimes feel.

This film is driven by inner monologue, that is, you can hear what the characters think. Due to that, you are able to watch their actions but also to hear their thoughts. It is interesting, but also heartbreaking at times. In a sense, "Fallen Angels" could be accurately displayed as a sequel to "Chungking Express", because it is also about people, their stories, and specially their longing for something they don't have but hope for.

One of the main characters is a hitman, Wong Chi-Ming (Leon Lai), who has a beautiful partner (Michele Reis) that coordinates his hits. Wong Chi-Ming knows why he became a killer, a reason that is strange but that makes sense to him: "The best thing about my profession is that there's no need to make any decision. Who's to die... when... where... it's all been planned by others. I'm a lazy person. I like people to arrange things for me". Despite that, he is thinking of leaving his job and becoming a "normal" person, something his partner doesn't like at all.

The other main character is He Zhiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a young mute that lost his voice after eating a tin of expired pineapple. He Zhiwu has a weird hobby: to break into stores at night and pretend to run them, forcing customers to buy things. He also happens to fall in love with a very strange lady, and says to himself "They say that love can change a man. I start to find myself looking better and more charming, and suddenly I discover that I'm turning blonde".

"Fallen Angels" is, again, a strange but magical film. I've tried to explain it, but I know I cannot do that well enough. It is up to you to draw your own conclusions. In my opinion, though, this is a film to be recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As there have been so many reviews of the actual film, I wanted to write about specifically the copy of the artificial eye blu-ray I bought. While the picture quality of the film (that I have grown to really like and enjoy more with every viewing) is excellent, sometimes the non-speaking audio is a bit off. The closest I can describe it is to a plane passing overhead in the distance. Almost like the audio is blurred. eg. when its raining, when the mute shuts up Midnight Express, even when he's being beaten up by a group of men in a cafe. I have a DVD of Fallen Angels and the audio never does this at any point.
I am very happy there is a 23min interview with Chris Doyle.
Has anyone else noticed these issues on their blu-ray copy, or is it just on mine?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2005
As part of Wong Kar Wai's auteristic ouvre, Fallen Angels is one of the finest examples of the New Hong Kong New Wave cinematic genre. This film encompasses Wai's (with the help of cinematographer Chris Doyle) artistic talents, as well as his comedic and heart wrenching writing abilities. Telling the conjoined tales of a hitman and his female agent, as well as Takeshi Kaneshiro in a superb role as a mute, unemployed twenty-something, who forces his services upon members of the public (not in a rude way), Fallen Angels represents the fears of alienation upon the transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule in a moving way, regardless of the country you come from.
All I can say is, this film is an essential watch, whether you enjoy action comedy films, artistic films, asian cinema or you just want to try something different. Give it a go and you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2011
For me this is second tier Wong Kar Wai, which means it's merely brilliant as opposed to the absolute perfection of Happy Together, In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express. My reason for writing this review is to sing the praises of the all region US Kino blu-ray - the PQ here is jaw dropping, all the more so due to the difficult nature of the film (loads of speeded up shots, blurred shots, night scenes, smeary neon etc). Truly perfect, please God the same company tackle Days of Being Wild at some point. By the way I'd forgotten the closing song used in this movie - a certain UK one hit wonder you would never associate with an uber cool HK director, and yet it works perfectly - check it out, preferably in this edition.
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on 19 October 2014
I adore this film but when I bought it it was faulty and froze in certain sections so had to send it back for a refund but I will buy it again. I think it is Wong Kar Wei's masterpiece. It's funny, quirky and stylise and Hong Kong has never looked more magical and lonely at the same time. And the ending is one the most heartening, charming and haunting that I have seen. Once you see the ending you never forget it. It totally moves you and gives you hope that people can find comfort and love.
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on 4 June 2010
This is similar to Chungking Express and is the unofficial sequel, I think it was supposed to be one film but was eventually swapped for darker themes Chungking Express [1995] [DVD] but on the flip side darker, much like the first chapter of Chungking Express this goes deeper into the rabbit hole regarding an Assassin, a mute man and their adventures.

If only for seeing Michelle Reis in Stockings on the bed playing with herself this film is worth it!
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on 23 March 2001
I have seen the movie twice, and I believe the images, sounds and feelings will never leave my mind. It was my pleasure to find a director of alternative movies that is not (hopefully) influenced by Hollywood and its mind numbing fight for the block-buster dollar. Without demoting the style and artistic ability of Tarantino, I found no similarities what so ever.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"We all need a partner, when will I find mine ?" seems to be a theme running through all of Wong Kar-Wai's films, as well as his other ingredients: Mind-bending speed, innovative, extraodinary camerawork (by Christopher Doyle), a great sountrack, 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 we might empathize with.
Takeshi Kaneshiro as the mute is the shining star of this film for me. He's brilliant, lovable, and beautiful. the "May 30th, 1995, I fell in love" scene is one I adore. In slow motion, and in black and white, the background and foreground move at different speeds, fade in and out...it's a magnificent piece of magical art, a painting come to life.
Like Kar-Wai's Chungking Express, it slows down somewhat in the second half, and for my taste, this is when it gets even better.
There is so much to see in this film, that it takes several viewings to fully appreciate it...it's incredible inventiveness, and it's sweet soul shining in the darkness.
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