Chinese Box [Import]
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Set during the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong in 1997, this fascinating film uses that urgent and grandly ceremonial political backdrop for an intimate study of personal transition. Jeremy Irons plays a seasoned journalist who discovers he is terminally ill, causing him to be torn between his obsessive love for a former prostitute (Chinese film star Li Gong) and a streetwise hustler (Maggie Cheung) whom he has chosen as the subject of a video documentary. Through his involvement in the lives of these two very different women, director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) creates a cinematic "love-hate letter" to his native Hong Kong, where each character is allegorical and suffers an identity crisis much like Hong Kong itself. The film's love story is somewhat aimless and ultimately unimportant, but Chinese Box (even the title suggests a place that holds secrets within its borders) remains a fascinating film in the semi-documentary tradition, capturing the psychology of its time and place with compelling immediacy. Musician/actor/politician Ruben Blades is featured in a memorable supporting role. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
Brilliant how Wang captures the rude bluntness of life in a city whose effervesence is the frantic rush of desperate folk trying to survive, having escaped from China.Read more ›
Picking a place to stand with the film is an interesting position. For this viewer, "Chinese Box" is a fascinating, if flawed piece of "masterwork".
Local Chinese in Hong Kong were largely unable to understand the film, citing Wang fabricated facts (such as the demonstration students setting themselves on fire, or the suicide shooting at the club to protest the Chinese Handover) while the whole affair was directed at a foreign (international) market. The gweilos (the expats in Hong Kong) hated it because they were portrayed as arrogant, self-serving prospectors, and there to make a quick buck.
Wang's vision is unique, for the simple fact that this is someone who's brought up in Hong Kong, then migrated to the US. He returned to Hong Kong later on to work for a brief period, but (understandably) left again to continue his career.
Before "Chinese Box", Wang made an independent feature "Life is cheap...but toilet paper is expensive" and it was a wild rollercoaster ride of the Hong Kong. Cutting and uncompromising, cynical yet laced with touches of poignancy, the film could not have made been made by anyone from Hong Kong. "Chinese Box" is, in many respect, the sequel. Placed side by side, the two films echo
the scarred history of Hong Kong.
I love "Chinese Box" because Wang speaks about the gulfs between East and West that are never acknowledged. It touches on the narrowmindedness of much of the locals and the expat community.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I had not seen this in many years but when I did I totally remember being in Hong Kong before this and after this time (the change over). Read morePublished 7 months ago by Runners Eye
Once again, Wayne Wang is a disappointment. As a third-generation Chinese American woman, I can't fathom how a fellow Chinese American can create such stereotypical films such as... Read morePublished on April 24 2004
I watched about the first excruciating half hour and then gave up. I am glad I did not get to the scenes of animal cruelty that some reviewers here made reference to -- then it... Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2004
'Chinese Box' attracted me through a fairly interesting looking trailer. I couldn't have been more disappointed with the movie itself. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2003 by Andy Orrock
Chinese box is a very interesting film. First of all a Wayne Wang film (remember eat a bowl of rice ? Read morePublished on July 10 2002 by Kuroneko1
I watched this film by "accident." One night I turned on the TV and "The Chinese Box" movie was on. I watched it because it is a film about Hong Kong. Read morePublished on June 8 2002 by Anna Ching-Yu Wong
What is up with Chinese-American directors? While their cousins across the Pacific--John Woo, Ang Lee--are making masterpieces, Chinese-Americans like Wayne Wang are churning out... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2001 by R. Smith
A pleasant surprise. I would recommend it to anyone who looks elsewhere than "blockbusters" for entertainment. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2001 by earle richmond
The idea was there. A film about the change over of Hong Kong from British to PRC rule. The casting was there too. Jeremy Irons, Gong-Li, and Maggie Cheung. Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2000 by The Shogunstein
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