The Wild, Wild Rose
(Ye mei gui zhi lia)
Weihong Bao is associate professor in the Department of Film and Media and the Chinese Program of the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department, UC Berkeley.
Grace Chang, Chang Yang, Dolly Soo Fung, Wang Lai,
“One of the best films in the history of Hong Kong cinema” (Hong Kong Film Archive), this film noir musical blends Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, and Mandarin pop in its nocturnal tale of a hot-tempered nightclub singer (a powerhouse Grace Chang) who’ll spit on her boss, grab a rival’s hair, and seduce any man, yet still aids an old colleague. A fresh-faced new doormat of a pianist arrives to be stepped on, but love—and fate—have other ideas. Amour fou, cigarettes, and songs, with low-angle noir cinematography and Chang giving her all: this cornerstone of the Mandarin musical (and Tsai Ming-liang favorite) still mesmerizes.