The Faces of Wong Kar Wai: Spotlight on Tony Leung

The Faces of Wong Kar Wai: Spotlight on Tony Leung

par remi mourany

Tony Leung Chiu-wai

Tony Leung Chiu-wai, not to be mistaken for Tony Leung Ka-fai of The Lover fame, has an extraordinary career adorned with masterpieces directed by some of Asia's most celebrated filmmakers. Born on June 27, 1962, in Hong Kong, Tony Leung's journey in the entertainment industry began at TVB, where he started as a children's program host before transitioning into television dramas that solidified his status as a beloved actor.

Leung's versatility is evident in his diverse roles: a mentally challenged man in The Lunatics (1986), a deaf-mute in A City of Sadness (1989), a monk in A Chinese Ghost Story III (1991), and a corrupt cop in The Longest Nite (1998). However, his collaboration with Wong Kar Wai is where he truly shines, embodying the glamorous and complex characters that define Wong's films.

Leung's first appearance with Wong Kar Wai was in Days of Being Wild (1990), where he closes the film with a memorable scene meant to lead into a sequel that was never made. In Ashes of Time (1994), he plays a wandering knight slowly losing his sight, a role that earned him Best Actor awards in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In Chungking Express (1994), he is a lovelorn policeman smitten with singer Faye Wong, and in Happy Together (1997), he portrays a gay man navigating a painful breakup in Buenos Aires.

Tony Leung's collaboration with Wong Kar Wai reached its zenith with In the Mood for Love (2000), where he plays a man entangled in a restrained yet emotionally intense affair, and 2046 (2004), where he reprises a reflective and melancholic role. These performances have cemented his status as an international star.

Leung has also worked with other prominent directors: Hou Hsiao-hsien in A City of Sadness and Flowers of Shanghai (1998), Tran Anh Hung in Cyclo (1995), and John Woo in Bullet in the Head (1990) and Hard Boiled (1992).

Despite his international acclaim, Tony Leung has maintained his popularity in Hong Kong, balancing serious roles with a successful canto-pop singing career and appearances in comedies and B-movies. His ability to transition seamlessly between different genres and styles makes him one of the most versatile and beloved actors in Hong Kong cinema.




  • 2013: The Grandmaster
  • 2008: Ashes of Time Redux
  • 2007: My Blueberry Nights
  • 2004: Eros (segment The Hand)
  • 2004: 2046
  • 2000: In the Mood for Love
  • 1997: Happy Together
  • 1995: Fallen Angels
  • 1994: Chungking Express
  • 1994: Ashes of Time
  • 1990: Days of Being Wild
  • 1988: As Tears Go By

>> Read our article : How does WKW make a film?