Wong’s scintillating debut feature is a hyper-cool crime thriller with flashes of the impressionistic, daydream visual style for which he would become renowned. Set amid Hong Kong’s neon-lit gangland underworld, this operatic saga of ambition, honor, and revenge stars Andy Lau as a small-time mob enforcer who finds himself torn between a burgeoning romance with his ailing cousin (Maggie Cheung, in the first of her iconic collaborations with Wong) and his loyalty to his loose-cannon partner in crime (Jacky Cheung) whose reckless attempts to make a name for himself unleash a spiral of violence. Marrying the pulp pleasures of the gritty Hong Kong action drama with hints of the head-rush romanticism Wong would push to intoxicating heights throughout the 1990s, As Tears Go By was a box office smash that heralded the arrival of one of contemporary cinema’s most electrifying talents.
This 4K digital restoration was undertaken from the 35mm original camera negative by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with L’Immagine Ritrovata and One Cool. A Janus Films release.