Wong Kar-Wai
Name: Wong Kar-Wai
Occupation: Director
Gender: Male
Birth Day: July 17, 1958
Age: 62
Birth Place: Shanghai, China
Zodiac Sign: Cancer

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Wong Kar-Wai

Wong Kar-Wai was born on July 17, 1958 in Shanghai, China (62 years old). Wong Kar-Wai is a Director, zodiac sign: Cancer. Nationality: China. Approx. Net Worth: $30 Million.


He was listed at number three on the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound Top Ten Directors list of modern times.

Net Worth 2020

$30 Million
Find out more about Wong Kar-Wai net worth here.


Height Weight Hair Colour Eye Colour Blood Type Tattoo(s)

Before Fame

He was a full-time television screenwriter who directed his first movie As Tears Go By in 1988.



  • The Grandmaster | Yut Doi Jung Si (2013)
  • Ashes of Time Redux (2008)
  • My Blueberry Nights (2007)
  • 2046 (2004)
  • In the Mood for Love | Fa yeung nin wa (2000)
  • Happy Together | Chun gwong cha sit (1997)
  • Fallen Angels | Duo luo tian shi (1995)
  • Ashes of Time | Dung che sai duk (1994)
  • Chungking Express | Chung Hing sam lam (1994)
  • Days of Being Wild | A Fei zheng chuan (1991)
  • As Tears Go By | Wong gok ka moon (1988)

Short Films

  • To Each His Cinema (2007) (segment "I Travelled 9000 km To Give It To You")
  • Eros (2004) (segment "The Hand")
  • Six Days (2002)
  • The Follow | The Hire: The Follow (2001) - (segment "The Follow")


  • The Grandmasters | Yut doi jung si (2011)
  • Miao Miao (2008)
  • To Each His Cinema | Chacun son cinéma (2007)
  • My Blueberry Nights | (2007)
  • Eros (2004) (segment "The Hand")
  • The Hand | (2004)
  • 2046 (2004)
  • Colour of Sound | Dei gwong tit (2003)
  • Chinese Odyssey 2002 | Tian xia wu shuang (2002)
  • In the Mood for Love | Fa yeung nin wa (2000)
  • Hua yang de nian hua | (2000)
  • First Love: The Litter on the Breeze | Choh chin luen hau dik yi yan sai gaai (1997)
  • Happy Together | Chun gwong cha sit (1997)
  • Fallen Angels | Duo luo tian shi (1995)
  • Ashes of Time | Dung che sai duk (1994)
  • The Eagle Shooting Heroes | Se diu ying hung ji dung sing sai jau (1993)
  • Flaming Brothers | Jiang hu long hu men (1987)

Biography Timeline


Wong Kar-wai was born on 17 July 1958 in Shanghai, the youngest of three siblings. His father was a sailor and his mother was a housewife. By the time Wong was five years old, the seeds of the Cultural Revolution were beginning to take effect in China and his parents decided to relocate to British-ruled Hong Kong. The two older children were meant to join them later, but the borders closed before they had a chance and Wong did not see his brother or sister again for ten years. In Hong Kong, the family settled in Tsim Sha Tsui, and his father got work managing a night club. Being an only child in a new city, Wong has said he felt isolated during his childhood; he struggled to learn Cantonese and English, only becoming fluent in these new languages when he was a teenager.


Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai play the lead characters, who move into an apartment building on the same day in 1962 and discover that their spouses are having an affair; over the next four years they develop a strong attraction. Teo writes that the film is a study of "typical Chinese reserve and repressed desire", while Schneider describes how the "strange relationship" is choreographed with "the grace and rhythm of a waltz" and depicted in "a dreamlike haze by an eavesdropping camera".


2046 continues the story of Chow Mo-wan, Leung's character from In the Mood For Love, though he is considered much colder and very different. Wong found that he did not want to leave the character, and commenced where he left off in 1966; nevertheless, he claimed "It's another story, about how a man faces his future due to a certain past". His plans were vague and according to Teo, he set "a new record in his own method of free-thinking, time-extensive and improvisatory filmmaking" with the production. Scenes were shot in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, and Bangkok. Actresses Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li were cast to play the women who consume Mo-wan, as the character plans a science fiction novel titled 2046. The film premiered at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, but Wong delivered the print 24 hours late and still was not happy: he continued editing until the film's October release. It was Wong's most expensive and longest-running project to date. 2046 was a commercial failure in Hong Kong, but the majority of western critics gave it positive reviews. Ty Burr of The Boston Globe praised in as an "enigmatic, rapturously beautiful meditation on romance and remembrance", while Steve Erikson of Los Angeles Magazine called it Wong's masterpiece.


As a youth, Wong was frequently taken to the cinema by his mother and exposed to a variety of films. He later said: "The only hobby I had as a child was watching movies". At school he was interested in graphic design, and earned a diploma in the subject from Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1980. After graduating, Wong was accepted onto a training course with the TVB television network, where he learned the processes of media production.


By 1987 the Hong Kong film industry was at a peak, enjoying a considerable level of prosperity and productivity. New directors were needed to maintain this success, and – through his links in the industry – Wong was invited to become a partner on a new independent company, In-Gear, and given the opportunity to direct his own picture. Gangster films were popular at the time, in the wake of John Woo's highly-successful A Better Tomorrow (1986), and Wong decided to follow suit. Specifically, unlike Hong Kong's other crime films, he chose to focus on young gangsters. The film, named As Tears Go By, tells the story of a conflicted youth who has to watch over his hot-headed friend.


Because he was well acquainted with the producer, Alan Tang, Wong was given considerable freedom in the making of As Tears Go By. His cast included what he considered some of "the hottest young idols in Hong Kong": singer Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, and Jacky Cheung. As Tears Go By was released in June 1988 and was popular with audiences. It was also a critical success, as several journalists named Wong among the "Hong Kong New Wave". While it was a conventional crime film, critic David Bordwell said that Wong "[stood] out from his peers by abandoning the kinetics of comedies and action movies in favour of more liquid atmospherics." As Tears Go By received no attention from Western critics upon its initial release, but was selected to be screened during Directors' Fortnight of the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.


With its popular stars, Days of Being Wild was expected to be a mainstream picture; instead it was a character piece, more concerned with mood and atmosphere than narrative. Released in December 1990, the film earned little at the box office and divided critics. Despite this, it won five Hong Kong Film Awards, and received some attention internationally. With its experimental narrative, expressive camerawork, and themes of lost time and love, Days of Being Wild is described by Brunette as the first typical "Wong Kar-wai film". It has since gained a reputation as one of Hong Kong's finest releases. Its initial failure was disheartening for the director, and he could not gain funding for his next project – a planned sequel.


Struggling to get support for his work, in 1992 Wong formed his own production company, Jet Tone Films, with Jeff Lau. In need of further backing, Wong accepted a studio's offer that he make a wuxia (ancient martial arts) film based on the popular novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong. Wong was enthusiastic about the idea, claiming he had long wanted to make a costume drama. He eventually took little from the book other than three characters, and in 1992 began experimenting with several different narrative structures to weave what he called "a very complex tapestry". Filming began with another all-star cast: Leslie, Maggie, and Jacky Cheung returned alongside Brigitte Lin, Carina Lau, Charlie Young, and Tony Leung Chiu-wai − the latter of which became one of Wong's key collaborators.


Set during the Song dynasty, Ashes of Time concerns a desert-exiled assassin who is called upon by several different characters while nursing a broken heart. It was a difficult production and the project was not completed for two years, at a cost of HK$47 million. Upon release in September 1994, audiences were confused by the film's vague plotting and atypical take on wuxia. Film scholar Martha P. Nochimson has called it "the most unusual martial arts film ever made", as fast-paced action scenes are replaced with character ruminations and story becomes secondary to the use of colour, landscape, and imagery. As such Ashes of Time was a commercial failure, but critics were generally appreciative of Wong's "refusal to be loyal to [the wuxia] genre". The film won several local awards, and competed at the Venice Film Festival where Christopher Doyle won Best Cinematography. In 2008, Wong reworked the film and re-released it as Ashes of Time Redux.


Fallen Angels is broadly considered a crime thriller, and contains scenes of extreme violence, but is atypical of the genre and heavily infused with Wong's fragmented, experimental style. The loose plot again involves two distinct, subtly overlapping narratives, and is dominated by frantic visuals. The film mostly occurs at night and explores the dark side of Hong Kong, which Wong planned intentionally to balance the sweetness of Chungking: "It's fair to show both sides of a coin". Takeshi Kaneshiro and Charlie Young were cast again, but new to Wong's films were Leon Lai, Michelle Reis and Karen Mok. Upon release in September 1995, several critics felt that the film was too similar to Chungking Express and some complained that Wong had become self-indulgent. Film historians Zhang Yingjin and Xiao Zhiwei commented: "While not as groundbreaking as its predecessors, the film is still different and innovative enough to confirm [Wong's] presence on the international scene"


Wong is an important figure in contemporary cinema, regarded as one of the best filmmakers of his generation. His reputation as a maverick began early in his career: in the 1996 Encyclopedia of Chinese Film, Wong was described as having "already established a secure reputation as one of the most daring avant-garde filmmakers" of Chinese cinema. Authors Zhang and Xiao concluded that he "occupies a special place in contemporary film history", and had already "exerted a sizeable impact". With the subsequent release of Happy Together and In the Mood For Love, Wong's international standing grew further, and in 2002 voters for the British Film Institute named him the third greatest director of the previous quarter-century. In 2015, Variety named him an icon of arthouse cinema.


Happy Together tells the story of a couple (Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Leslie Cheung) who travel to Buenos Aires in an effort to save their relationship. Wong decided to change the structure and style from his previous films, as he felt he had become predictable. Teo, Brunette, and Jeremy Tambling all see Happy Together as a marked change from his earlier work: the story is more linear and understandable, there are only three characters (with no women at all), and while it still has Doyle's "exuberant" photography it is more stylistically restrained. After a difficult production period – where a six-week shoot was dragged out to four months – the film was released in May 1997 to great critical acclaim. It competed for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where Wong became Hong Kong's first winner of the Best Director Award (an achievement he downplayed: "it makes no difference, it’s just something you can put on an ad.")


Outside of cinema, Wong has been heavily influenced by literature. He has a particular affinity for Latin American writers, and the fragmentary nature of his films came primarily from the "scrapbook structures" of novels by Manuel Puig and Julio Cortázar, which he attempted to emulate. Haruki Murakami, particularly his novel Norwegian Wood, also provided inspiration, as did the writing of Liu Yichang. The television channel MTV was a further influence on Wong. He said in 1998, "in the late eighties, when it was first shown in Hong Kong, we were all really impressed with the energy and the fragmented structure. It seemed like we should go in this direction."


Wong's next film was not released for five years, as he underwent another long and difficult production on The Grandmaster (2013) – a biopic of the martial arts teacher Ip Man. The idea had occurred to him in 1999 but he did not commit to it until the completion of My Blueberry Nights. Ip Man is a legendary figure in Hong Kong, known for training actor Bruce Lee in the art of Wing Chun, but Wong decided to focus on an earlier period of his life (1936–1956) that covered the turmoil of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. He set out to make "a commercial and colourful film". After considerable research and preparation, filming began in 2009. Tony Leung Chui-wai rejoined Wong for their seventh film together, having spent 18 months being trained in Wing Chun, while Zhang Ziyi played Gong Er. The "gruelling" production lasted intermittently for three years, twice interrupted by Leung fracturing his arm, and is Wong's most expensive to date.


In his 2005 monograph, Brunette gives the opinion that Happy Together marked "a new stage in [Wong's] artistic development", and along with its successor – In the Mood For Love (2000) – showcases the director at "the zenith of his cinematic art." The latter film emerged from a highly complicated production history that lasted two years. Several different titles and projects were planned by Wong before they evolved into the final result: a romantic melodrama set in 1960s Hong Kong that is seen as an unofficial sequel to Days of Being Wild. Wong decided to return to the era that fascinated him, and reflected his own background by focusing on Shanghainese émigrés.


Filming on My Blueberry Nights took place over seven weeks in 2006, on location in Manhattan, Memphis, Tennessee, Ely, Nevada, and Las Vegas. Wong produced it in the same manner as he would in Hong Kong, and the themes and visual style – despite Christopher Doyle being replaced by cinematographer Darius Khondji – remained the same. Premiering in May 2007, My Blueberry Nights was Wong's fourth consecutive film to compete for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Although he considered it a "special experience", critics were not enamoured by the results. With common complaints that the material was thin and the product uneven, My Blueberry Nights emerged as Wong's first critical failure.

Wong's oeuvre consists of ten directed features, 16 films where is he credited only as screenwriter, and seven films from other directors that he has produced. He has also directed commercials, short films, and music videos, and contributed to two anthology films. He has received awards and nominations from organisations in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. In 2006, Wong accepted the National Order of the Legion of Honour: Knight (Lowest Degree) from the French Government. In 2013, he was bestowed with the Order of Arts and Letters: Commander (Highest Degree) by the French Minister of Culture. The International Film Festival of India gave Wong a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.


Wong's films frequently appeared on best-of lists domestically and internationally. On the Hong Kong Film Awards Association's 2005 list of The Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures, all except one of his films up to that time made the list. Days of Being Wild (1990) placed at number three, the highest position for a post-1980s film; other films ranked were Chungking Express (22), Ashes of Time (35), As Tears Go By (88), Happy Together (89), and In the Mood for Love (90). In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll, whereby industry professionals submit ballots to determine the greatest films of all time, In the Mood For Love was ranked 24th, the highest-ranked film since 1980 and the sixth greatest film by a living director. Chungking Express and Days of Being Wild both ranked in the top 250; Happy Together and 2046 in the top 500; and Ashes of Time and As Tears Go By also featured (all but two of Wong's films to that point).


Though Wong admits to being controlling, and oversees every aspect of the film making process, he has formed several long-lasting partnerships and close collaborators. In 2013 he said, "It is always good to work with a very regular group of people because we know how high we can fly and what are the parameters, and it becomes very enjoyable." Two men have been instrumental in developing and achieving his aesthetic: production designer William Chang and cinematographer Christopher Doyle. Chang has worked on every Wong film and is a trusted confidant, responsible for all set design and costuming. Doyle photographed seven of his projects, all from Days of Being Wild to 2046. Stephen Schneider writes that he deserves "much credit" in Wong's success, as his "masterful use of light and colour renders every frame a work of art". Wong's other regular colleagues include writer-producer Jeffrey Lau, producer Jacky Pang, and assistant director Johnnie Kong.


When asked about his career in 2014, Wong told The Independent, "To be honest with you, I feel I’m only halfway done." In November 2016, he was announced as taking over an upcoming film about the murder of Maurizio Gucci from previous director Ridley Scott, but commented in October 2017 that he was no longer involved in the project. In September 2017, Amazon Video issued a straight-to-series order for Tong Wars, a television drama to be directed by Wong. It focuses on the gang wars that occurred in nineteenth-century San Francisco, they later dropped the series. Regarding his next film, the Asian media has reported that it will be titled Blossoms and based on a book by Jin Yucheng, which focuses on numerous characters in Shanghai from the 1960s to the 2000s, it is also slated to become a web series for Tencent in which he produces.


Wong's influence has impacted contemporary directors including Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Lee Myung-se, Tom Tykwer, Zhang Yuan, Tsui Hark, and Barry Jenkins. On 24 May 2018, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Harvard University.


Also, in May of 2019, Wong announced the restoration of his entire filmography by his production company, Jet Tone Films, to be revealed in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of In the Mood For Love. In the interview, Wong stated “We’ve been working on these restorations for a long time. Next year is the 20th anniversary of In the Mood For Love, and around the world there will be retrospectives and reissues of the film, along with the other films. A few years ago I watched my film somewhere, looked at the monitor, and said, ‘Why does it look so messy?’ They said, ‘Now we are used to 4K projections, so you have to upgrade it, otherwise you will have those kind of feelings.’ We have been working on it. Last year in Lyon, we showed the restored films in front of 5000[-person] audiences, and it looked very, very good. The problem is that it’s like opening a Pandora’s box, because you will never never feel like it is good enough. You say, ‘It looked better before,’ or ‘The color is not right,’ etc. It brings up a lot of pains.” On January 1st, 2020, the Criterion Collection hinted at releasing a box set of the restorations in the U.S. It is believed that Janus Films and the Criterion Collection have the rights to distribute the film.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Wong Kar-Wai is 63 years, 11 months and 11 days old. Wong Kar-Wai will celebrate 64th birthday on a Sunday 17th of July 2022.

Find out about Wong Kar-Wai birthday activities in timeline view here.

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