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Days of Being Wild (1991)

Cast: Leslie Cheung, Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, more...
Director: Wong Kar-Wai, Wong Kar-Wai
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Studio: Kino
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Hong Kong
Running Time: 89 min.
Languages: Cantonese
Subtitles: English
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Following up on his debut As Tears Go By, master filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai directs this dark, brooding tale about identity and unrequited love. Set in 1960, the film center of the young, boyishly handsome Yuddy (Leslie Cheung), who learns from the drunken ex-prostitute who raised him that she is not his real mother. Hoping to hold onto him, she refuses to divulge the name of his real birth mother. The revelation shakes Yuddy to his very core, unleashing a cascade of conflicting emotions. Two women have the bad luck to fall for Yuddy. One is a quiet lass who works at a sport arena named Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung), while the other is a glitzy showgirl named Mimi (Carina Lau). Perhaps due to his unresolved Oedipal issues, he passively lets the two compete for him, unable or unwilling to make a choice. As Lizhen slowly confides her frustration to a cop named Tide (Andy Lau), he falls for her. The same is true for Yuddy's friend Zeb (Jacky Cheung), who falls for Mimi. Later, Yuddy learns of his birth mother's whereabouts and heads out to the Philippines. This film won a armful of trophies at the Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Director, Best Actor for Leslie Cheung, and Best Picture. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Surprise Classic (for me, at least) by talltale April 12, 2005 - 2:05 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
On the DVD of "Rififi" director Jules Dassin mentions that he was once told to keep making his new movies in the mold of his classic heist film because that's how directors--his advice-giver named Hitchcock as an example--are best remembered. Instead, Dassin went on to make very different types of movies and is--rather thanklessly--often overlooked as a director. I would never make that same "claim" for Kar Wai Wong, now that I have seen one of his earliest films, DAYS OF BEING WILD. Clearly, this is one director who has just gone on repeating but never matching the eloquence, economy and magnificence of this 1990 movie.

It stars a very young Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau and the late Leslie Cheung (among other Hong Kong lights) and it is photographed so very exquisitely by Christopher Doyle. If I'd had more time, I would have watched it all over again immediately. NOW I understand what the fuss is all about. The only other KWW film I've seen that begins to measure up is "Chung King Express," and even that comes nowhere near the level of this elusive beauty.

A story of missed connections and unrequited love, the movie is written almost as well as it's directed and photographed. These are sad characters for whom you come care (unlike the zombies of Ming-Liang Tsai's oeuvre). And Wong's perfectly calibrated romanticism just adds to the pleasures on display. If you are as ignorant as I was regarding this director's early work (or simply want to luxuriate in near-perfection), queue immediately.

A Hong Kong Neophyte by squad October 4, 2004 - 9:37 PM PDT
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
I rented "Rouge", "Chungking Express", and now "Days of Being Wild", based on reviews of film from Hong Kong that was not martial arts oriented. It turns out that the Director of "Chungking Express" and "Rouge" are the same, and the leading man in "Rouge" and "Days of Being Wild" is the late Leslie Cheung. All three films have a aimless, lowlife quality to them, kind of object lessons in the vein of Camus' novel "The Stranger", especially "Days of Being Wild" which worked for me, first because it was pretty easy to follow in spite of the "Engrish" subtitles which read like the directions for an unassembled Hibachi grill (Step 1. Form the leg from the base into insert handle is). I found myself caring about all of the main characters because it was obvious that life had dealt them a poor hand and they were trying to find some love and enjoyment. Anyway, to me it was a moral tale on the "wages of (innocent) sin" if you will. Cinematography was about a 7, as was choice of music. Locations were run-down urban with a few minutes of Philippine greenery.

a major proposal by dpowers October 21, 2003 - 10:02 PM PDT
10 out of 10 members found this review helpful
i didn't know anything about this movie when i started playing it so i was shocked to see how much it was doing from the first shot: mapping everything out, everything wong kar-wai ever wanted to talk about. bang!

it has a few problems, right, like some strangely large story gaps for a melodrama, and an ending that tails away in a way that maybe was not quite... and it could have been a few minutes longer, for clarity... and there's none of that chris doyle electric photography... but...

it is so daring! there's so much stuff!!!

so daring, so rich, so much a completely detailed laying out of all wong kar-wai's melodramatic ideas up to now. all the film language, all the themes, all the subjects - chungking express, fallen angels, happy together, and in the mood for love were all four drawn from this material, and there's still more, connecting the children, adding to them. this is a gold mine.

even sticking just to what the other movies took, i think days of being wild is more sophisticated than its children, because what later became outrageously lush retains here a sense of the ordinary that sharpens the feeling, and what became comic later is held close to the hearts of the characters, allowing both character and viewer to enjoy the moment.

try this style, try that style, put them together, take them apart, what a fun time they were having, and everybody gets a really good scene to chew up. i had a blast watching this, can you tell?

fans of melodrama should not miss it, it's a kick how people come together and split. fans of wong kar-wai who have not seen it may not have figured out how his jet-age, "international" style fits into chinese storytelling - this is pretty much the departure point.

other folks, this isn't a complete movie in the sense that you'd expect, but if you're a movie buff, there are lots of moments here that i guarantee will make you happy for a long time.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.46)
140 Votes
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An Intro to Chinese Movies (No kicking)
To my mind, the world's best films.

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