As Tears Go By - hero image
As Tears Go By - hero image
As Tears Go By (1988)

Presented by ACMI in association with Sydney Film Festival, NFSA, QAGOMA and Mercury CX

As Tears Go By


Wong Kar Wai | Hong Kong | | R18+

A small-time gangster dreams of love but is bound by brotherhood in Wong Kar Wai’s electrifying debut starring Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Maggie Cheung.

A moody and stylish genre picture ... it shows a master in the making.

New York Post

Wah (Lau) works the gritty streets of Kowloon, enforcing for a local mobster with his wayward offsider Fly (Cheung). Hardened by his nocturnal lifestyle, Wah’s world is upended with the arrival of his cousin Ngor (Cheung). As their relationship grows, he’s torn between navigating these opposing futures but when Fly double-crosses a rival gang, the codes of brotherhood prevail, and he must act.

With its themes of self-sacrifice and loyalty, frenetic action sequences and expert use of pop music, As Tears Go By has often drawn comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets. In a 1994 interview, Wong Kar Wai said, “when I saw Mean Streets for the first time, it was a shock to me because I had the impression that story could have happened in Hong Kong.” Drawing on his own observations of the city’s underbelly for the plot and working within the genre conventions for which the Hong Kong industry was famous, Wong infused his gangster film with a unique approach to character-based storytelling and signature ‘pop’ aesthetics. Winner of numerous Hong Kong Film Awards, the film was a commercial success and confirmed Wong Kar Wai’s path from scriptwriter to director.

This 4K digital restoration was undertaken from the 35 mm original camera negative by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with L’Immagine Ritrovata and One Cool.

Format: DCP
Language: In Cantonese with English subtitles
Source: Media Asia
Courtesy: Media Asia
Duration: 102 min


12 & 22 Feb 2021

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Sessions & times


102 mins



Medium level violence


Cinema 2, ACMI
Fed Square, Melbourne

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