best film:  In the Mood For Love is a film that gets better with each viewing. It’s almost too cinematically and stylistically rich for one viewing. It’s grown on me over the years, cracked my all-time top 100, and could climb higher and higher with more study. Chunking Express is also a masterpiece from WKW so that’s Leung (and WKW’s) second best. I love the work with John Woo and it adds a layer to Leung’s resume but the third best film is most likely Flowers of Shanghai from Hou Hsiao-Hsien—and that’s saying something when you’ve worked with WKW 7 times.

best performance:  In the Mood For Love. It’s understated (especially compared to his work with Woo). Leung is a master at the slow burn. Here it’s played so modestly by both Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung yet packs a wallop by the end of the film—it’s quite devastating. Leung is a gifted subtle, internalizing or stewing type actor- and this is him at his finest.

stylistic innovations/traits:  His nicknames (at least here in the West) are the “Asian Clark Gable” or calling him the “Bogart and Bacall” of the east (with Maggie Cheung who he has worked with five times). I don’t think they fit his chic and faculties. He’s a more subtle actor. He get a little louder in the work with Woo and Infernal Affairs but he’s not mister charisma. Leung can play melancholy far better than those two actors (or virtually any other actor) like some of Bill Murray’s roles in post-Rushmore. He’s a fascinating actor because he’s paired with one of the great all-time auteurs (WKW) but has also done action (Woo and Yimou Zhang). Depth and versatility.

directors worked with:   loaded here—the best auteurs in the East for the past 30 years—the key partnership and all-time level collaboration is WKW (7)—but then I always forget about Woo (3—counting Red Cliff as one movie), Hou Hsiao-Hsien (2) and then once with Yimou Zhang.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. In the Mood for Love
  2. Happy Together
  3. Internal Affairs
  4. Hard Boiled
  5. Chunking Express


Archiveable films

1989- City of Sadness
1990- Bullet in the Head
1990- Days of Being Wild
1992- Hard Boiled
1994- Ashes of Time
1994- Chunking Express
1995- Cyclo
1997- Happy Together
1998- Flowers of Shanghai
2000- In the Mood For Love
2002- Hero
2002- Infernal Affairs
2004- 2046
2008- Red Cliff I
2009- Red Cliff II
2013- The Grandmaster