7.0/10
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24 user 58 critic

As Tears Go By (1988)

Wong Gok ka moon (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 2 May 2008 (USA)
Mid-level gangster Wah falls in love with his beautiful cousin, but must also continue to protect his volatile partner-in-crime and friend, Fly.

Director:

Kar-Wai Wong (as Kar Wai Wong)

Writers:

Jeffrey Lau, Kar-Wai Wong (as Kar Wai Wong)
Reviews
2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Andy Lau ... Wah
Maggie Cheung ... Ngor
Jacky Cheung ... Fly
Alex Man ... Tony
Ronald Wong ... Site
To-Hoi Kong To-Hoi Kong ... Fat Carl
Ching Wai Ching Wai ... Uncle Kwan
Kau Lam ... Uncle Ba
William Chang ... Ngor's doctor
Ang Wong Ang Wong ... Mabel
Pa-Ching Huang Pa-Ching Huang ... Boss of Mahjong Den
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chi Fai Chan ... Billiard parlor thug
Man-Ho Chan Man-Ho Chan
Tseng Chang ... Wah's triad elder
Wing-Cheung Cheung Wing-Cheung Cheung ... Bodyguard
Edit

Storyline

A low-level triad "big brother" has a hot-tempered "little brother" who can't keep out of trouble, and consequently is in constant need of being bailed out by his protector. The "big brother" is super cool, but lacks the ambition to rise in the ranks of the triad societies - and once he meets his cousin from Kowloon and falls in love with her, he even thinks about leaving "the life". Written by L.H. Wong <as9401k56@ntuvax.ntu.ac.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Hong Kong

Language:

Cantonese

Release Date:

2 May 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wang Jiao ka men See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,279, 4 May 2008

Gross USA:

$9,436

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,436
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First film directed by Kar-Wai Wong. See more »

Goofs

In a scene Wah incidentally encountered Mabel which was supposed to rain heavily, there were many people across the street seen walking nonchalantly, suggesting that the rain was in fact a custom set. See more »

Quotes

Wah: I did a lot of things for our godfather too. By the age of 14, I was already getting paid to kill. I've got more guts than most guys, right? But look at me now. I'm just an ordinary guy!
Fly: At least you were a hotshot for a while! But what about me? What about me? Everyone looks down on me. Does that make you happy? People think I'm nothing, like some stray dog just following you around! Did you know that? I'd rather be a hero for one day than go on being a fly all my life!
See more »

Alternate Versions

2005 Tartan release features the film uncut but with a Mandarin Soundtrack instead of the original Cantonese soundtrack. See more »

Soundtracks

Take My Breath Away
Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock
Performed by Sandy Lam
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
"A promising debut"
29 April 2007 | by Laitue_GonflableSee all my reviews

There is an inherent danger in looking retroactively at early films from established directors. As with Jarmusch's "Permanent Vacation", Bertolucci's "The Grim Reaper" or even Kubrick's "Killer's Kiss", it can be difficult - after garnering an admiration for a director - to look back at their less refined beginnings.

Such is the case with Wong Kar-Wai's As Tears Go By (Wong gok ka moon). During the film's early stages, it feels somewhat like an unhappy coupling between a flashy Hong Kong martial arts film and those really cheesy Chinese serials where the emperor's daughter accidentally falls pregnant to the chief eunuch warrior (or whatever, I've never watched one with subtitles). Having said that though, it doesn't quite reach the extremes of either: firstly because the action and violence, although the driving force of the film, are not in the least stylised but are in fact quite confronting; and secondly because the cheese of the soap opera elements is really only apparent through the use of dodgy 80's music. But this is simply dated, not inappropriate - after all, the same could be said about Blade Runner, although the montage about halfway through this film set to a Cantonese version of "Take my Breath Away" is just embarrassing.

As Tears go By also happens to get better as it progresses. Perhaps this is because the romance between Ah-Wah (Andy Lau) and Ah-Ngor (Maggie Cheung), which seems ready to overpower the film early on, becomes sidelined to the underground-crime half of the plot, which is certainly the most successful and believable half. Wong craftily creates a hard-boiled atmosphere and there is a lot of emotional resonance in the relationship between Wah and his young protégé, Fly (Jacky Cheung). Unfortunately, the same cannot really be said of the male-female relationship between the two stars. It manages to gain a small amount of credibility purely through the fact that we have seen the quiet girl-bad boy romance explored to greater depths in other films. Put this small amount of believability aside however, and it has a very tacked-on, Michael Bay kind of feel to it.

Although the film is easily criticised, one can nevertheless see Wong's style making its first appearance here, and I can certainly see the justification behind one reviewer's quote on the DVD case: "A promising debut". I would like to particularly single out his clever use of intimate but skewed, 'Dutch' camera angles to highlight the (forgive me for this expression) humanistic dehumanisation which would foreground his more recent and more famous films, "In the Mood for Love" and "2046". He also drives the film at an excellent pace, in spite of the fact that alternations between the subplots give it a slightly episodic, fragmented feel.

Ultimately, my major complaint is simply that while both the romance and the action have a great deal of potential, used together in this way they don't work. Personally I think Wong could either expand on the romance more or eradicate it entirely, and he would have a more complete film.

And while hoping not to contradict myself, I have to say that the above comments, which pervaded my thoughts for 90 minutes of this film, were quite rocked by the superb conclusion - framed within criminal violence but so much 'about' the romance - let me just say, whatever I may have thought about most of this film, it was definitely worth it for the ending. Overall, interesting mainly for being Wong's debut and definitely a taste of things to come.

6/10


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