As Tears Go By | Chicago Reader

As Tears Go By

102 minutes 2014

A low-level hood (Andy Lau) tries to maintain his equilibrium as he's pulled in one direction by his stable, provincial cousin (Maggie Cheung) and in another by his volatile pal (Jacky Cheung). This 1988 Hong Kong drama was the directing debut of Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), and though many have compared it to Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, the stylistic flights of fancy are all Wong's: the clouds drifting heavenward on a bank of TV tubes, the stuttering slow motion and glistening light of a back-alley knife fight, the repeated posing of the young woman at the foot of steps or stairs. Some of the editing has a giddy, overeager quality, the natural excess of a young prodigy, but when the action and the tempo align, the results are exhilarating: an early brawl in a pool hall fairly leaps off the screen. In Cantonese with subtitles.

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