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Chinese Box

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R
1997

Chinese Box is a 1997 romantic drama film directed by Wayne Wang and starring Jeremy Irons, Gong Li, and Maggie Cheung. The movie is set in Hong Kong, just before the city was handed back to China by the UK in 1997. The story is seen through the eyes of John, played by Irons, a journalist who is terminally ill and facing the end of his life.

From the beginning, the movie presents a complex web of relationships between its characters, starting with John's relationship with his friend and business partner Jim, played by Michael Hui. As John spends his days exploring the city, he becomes more and more fascinated with the people he meets, including Vivian, played by Cheung, a woman who works as a bar girl and is involved with a gangster named Chang, played by Lim Kay Tong. Meanwhile, John also becomes friends with Jean, played by Gong Li, a sophisticated businesswoman who is caught up in the political changes affecting the city.

As John becomes more involved in the lives of these characters, he begins to confront his own mortality and starts to reassess his values and his relationships. He is drawn to Vivian's vivacious energy and her ability to find joy in life despite her circumstances, but at the same time is troubled by her connection to the dangerous Chang. In contrast, Jean seems like the very embodiment of the modern, cosmopolitan Hong Kong, but John begins to sense that her success has come at a cost.

The movie is notable for its exploration of the complex social and political landscape of Hong Kong on the eve of its handover to China. The movie was partially funded by the Hong Kong Film Commission and was shot on location in the city, giving it a sense of authenticity and immediacy. The film does not shy away from depicting the tension and uncertainty in the city at the time, as well as the pressures faced by people living there.

At the same time, Chinese Box also delves into universal themes of love, loss, and mortality. As John grapples with his illness, he is forced to confront the fact that his time on earth is limited, and the people he meets become a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. The movie's beautiful cinematography captures both the grit and the beauty of the city, while the film's haunting soundtrack adds to its melancholic atmosphere.

The acting in Chinese Box is also top-notch, with Irons delivering a powerful performance as John, a man who is simultaneously cynical and vulnerable. Cheung and Gong Li also shine in their respective roles, bringing depth and nuance to their characters. The chemistry between Irons and Cheung is especially palpable, conveying the tentative, bittersweet relationship between their characters.

Overall, Chinese Box is a moving and thought-provoking film that combines social commentary with emotional depth. Its portrayal of pre-handover Hong Kong is both incisive and poignant, and its exploration of love and mortality is heart-rending. With its talented cast, beautiful cinematography, and haunting soundtrack, Chinese Box is a must-see for anyone interested in Hong Kong cinema, or anyone looking for a poignant, emotionally resonant drama.

Chinese Box is a Drama, Romance movie released in 1997. It has a runtime of 99 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.2..

6.2/10
Director
Wayne Wang
Stars
Jeremy Irons, Gong Li, Maggie Cheung, Michael Hui, Rubén Blades
Chinese Box is available on .