One strand of auteur theory, as Graeme Turner explains, concerns the identification of a director's visual style (Turner 44). When it comes to talking about visual styles of Asian directors, particularly in the context of Hong Kong cinema, one name that immediately comes to mind would be none other than Wong Kar-wai. Any Asian film student would probably be familiar with his signature works. Wong Kar-wai has been considered as "the very latest auteur produced by the second wave" in Hong Kong cinema (Teo 193). His passion for stylistic filmmaking and pursuit of film artistry gave him the recognition as a Hong Kong auteur. His auteur status arose from the distinctive visual style and individualistic visions evident in his films. Apart from directing, Wong Kar-wai also writes the screenplays for his own films. That gives him almost complete control over the entire film production and reinforces his authorship. He is famous for shooting without scripts, improvising the narrative as he shoots the films. With all his films being labelled as independent art-house and in contrast to the many commercial Hong Kong products, Wong Kar-wai stands apart from other directors (Stokes 186). In this essay, I will examine and discuss how academic film critics and scholars such as Stephen Teo, David Bordwell and others have talked about his visual style, in relation to one of his many award-winning films, Chungking Express (1994).
Chungking Express marked Wong Kar-wai's major break onto the international film scene and remains one of his most memorable work, if not the best, in his filmmaking career. American director and filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, convinced his distributor, Miramax, to buy over the rights to Chungking Express for distribution of the film in the United States under his production label, Rolling Thunder. Set in postmodern Hong Kong against an urban and multicultural backdrop, the theme is about lost love and isolation.