Wong Kar-wai's impressive directorial debut has a gangster tale inflected with a Mean Street's narrative triangle. Lifetime hood Ah Wah (Andy Lau) cannot extricate himself from the trouble that his unchecked friend/protégé Fly (Jacky Cheung) continues to land him in, even as he is drawn elsewhere by his developing love with his sickly cousin Maggie Cheung. Violent, male bonds persist with tragic results. The garish neon of the Mongkok district is contrasted with the verdant sanctuary of Cheung's Lantau Isle home. But the alternative geography never makes space for options as Ah is constantly reacting to the next crisis, tragically and perpetually living in the present.
As Tears Go By Director's Statement
"This is a tragedy set in a big city, focusing on several ordinary characters caught in a helpless situation. As a story about anti-heroes, it is reminiscent of Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets plus a romance of the kind the Japanese stars Momoe Yamakuchi and Tomokazu Miura made popular a dozen
The narrative structure of the film is different from many other Hong Kong films. It has no clear plot. Both the atmosphere and the "story" are derived from the interplay of three personalities. I came up with this script while working on Patrick Tam's The Final Victory. The idea came from a news item about two teenagers paid by the triads to carry out a murder. After being paid, the two friends went out for a wild night around town. In the morning, they set out for their assignment.
The three main characters in the films are all doing what they ought not to do: Andy Lau should not become romantically entangled with Maggie Cheung, Fly (Jackie Cheung) tries to accomplish what is clearly beyond his physical ability, and Andy Lau can't help but get involved again and again in Fly's mistakes.
[In the original ending], Andy Lau is shot in the head and ends up being disabled. Jackie Cheung is killed by the police. Maggie Cheung silently accepts the sad fate of her lover. Everyone can understand their experience and their emotions, and through them, reflect on their own."
-- from The 13th Hong Kong International Film Festival
Writer and Director: Wong Kar-wai (1988)
Starring: Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Alex Man