Days of Being Wild
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Star crossed Asian film icon Leslie Cheung (Farewell My Concubine, Happy Together) plays Luddy, a devastatingly handsome Hong Kong lothario who seduces and forsakes women without compunction. Abandoned at birth, Luddy's self-destructive search for love is really a Quixotic quest for a feeling of permanence and a sense of identity. When Luddy beguiles lovely shop girl Su Lizen, he unknowingly sets in motion a sequence of broken hearts and unremembered promises that climaxes in naked obsession, inadvertent self-discovery and shocking violence.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Days of Being Wild he casts some of the best young Hong Kong actors then and now--Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau--in a tale of those who look for love and never seem to find it. Or at least not for long at all. When a completely reckless Don Juan type teases a beautiful stadium ticket taker, promising her at their first meeting he'll always remember her for the minute they shared, this is enough to seduce the lonely girl into falling for him, only to have him callously dump her when she asks him to marry her.
While she finds solace by talking to a street cop, the womanizer hooks up with a semi-sleazy dancehall girl, meanwhile roughing up his aunt's suitor for the attempted theft of her pearl earrings. His aunt chides him for driving away her older suitor, yet stoically accepts what he's done; she needs him more than her suitor. She raised him when his mother abandoned him and now is more attached to him than she realized.
The cop leaves his job and becaomes a sailor. The womanizer leaves town and hooks up with the sailor, completely coincidentally. Meanwhile the ticket taker girl and the dancehall girl find their own ways without the love they need, just as the sailor has done, trying to forget the ticket taker with whom he fell in love, never hearing from her, causing him to abandon his street, his town, and put out to sea.
The parable of a legless bird, the womanizer's fictional tale he uses in his seduction ploys, is one that frames this lyrical piece of filmmaking. The endpieces of lush jungle greenery--hundreds of thick palm trees--accompany the voiceover narration of this tale. The completely offbeat music, ranging from salsa to slow romantic dance music--competely Western--to quirky pizzicatos and glissandi, is similarly accompanied by Chris Doyle's assured cinematography. This was the first major Hong Kong film shot by Doyle and his rich style, embracing a wide spectrum of colors and tones is much in evidence, making this, as already noted, a truly unique cinematic experience.
In fact, WKW's collaboration with Doyle here is so complete, careful, well thought out, and subtle, that it would be impossible to imagine one without the other. So too is the use of the completely Western soundtrack. Set in 1960s Hong Kong, the feel of the era is effortlessly captured, also adding to the atmosphere of this rich film.
This is a landmark film in that, for its time, almost 15 years ago, it focused on aspects of life not previously shown in Hong Kong film and was an obvious departure from the martial arts movies American audiences expected from that part of the world. The advent of not only WKW but a number of 4th, 5th, and 6th generation directors from China and HK can easily count Wong Kar Wai as one of its breakthrough filmmakers. And this film is more than ample proof of that.
Loneliness, sadness, restlessness, lust, longing, emptiness. A film that resonates.....
but the subtitles here are so difficult to slog through that the viewer really comes away with a diminished sense of what the film is about.
After watching this version, I rented the Kino release. The subtitles are excellent -- as is the film, of course -- so my advice would be to avoid this one and get the Kino. Also, if ordering used, be sure that the seller is in fact offering the Kino version -- I've seen this one for sale on the Kino page as well, so look closely.
The central character is basically the opposite of every dickless, stereotypical Asian computer nerd you've ever seen in the usual Hollywood trash movies, even flirts a little with the Byronic hero model. There's a clumsy attempt at lyrical existentialist philosophizing here and there but nothing too heavy handed a la Spielbergian.
It would've been much, much better with a competent film editor who could cut out about 25% of the film to make it flow more smoothly and briskly, though.