Chinese Box Hong Kong-born director Wayne Wang sets Chinese Box (Trimark), an intriguingly vibrant, messy, overloaded love story, on the eve of the British handover of his… Chinese Box Hong Kong-born director Wayne Wang sets Chinese Box (Trimark), an intriguingly vibrant, messy, overloaded love story, on the eve of the British handover of his… R Drama Romance Maggie Cheung Jeremy Irons Gong Li Wayne Wang
Movie Review

Chinese Box (1998)

MPAA Rating: R
EW's GRADE
B

Details Rated: R; Genres: Drama, Romance; With: Maggie Cheung, Jeremy Irons, Gong Li and Wayne Wang

Hong Kong-born director Wayne Wang sets Chinese Box (Trimark), an intriguingly vibrant, messy, overloaded love story, on the eve of the British handover of his native land to Chinese control. And in the passionate, thwarted relationship between John (Jeremy Irons), a British journalist and longtime Hong Kong resident, and Vivian (Gong Li), an elegant hostess with a less than elegant past, loyal to her rich Chinese businessman boyfriend (Michael Hui), Wang (The Joy Luck Club) sees symbolism around every crowded corner.

Much of the film is mesmerizing, a pulsing jumble of vivid images (including documentary-style footage) from terrific cinematographer Vilko Filac (Underground) that, shot during the actual handover, reflect the exotic color, energy, and political contradictions of the locale. But still other storytelling digressions — including an equally symbol-heavy subplot concerning a punky, sexy, vagabond con artist (Jackie Chan regular Maggie Cheung) scarred, literally, by her girlhood love for an English boy — add up to less than the sum of Wang's many excited forays down crooked Hong Kong alleys. B

Originally posted Apr 24, 1998 Published in issue #428 Apr 24, 1998 Order article reprints