Hong Kong acting legend, Tony Leung is the current talk of the town. Thanks to his role as Wenwu in the Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings where he makes his Hollywood debut, those who have seen him for the first time, can’t help but become head over heels for the actor.
Leung is a superstar in his hometown of Hong Kong and his status extends to Asia, where he’s considered one of the region’s most successful and internationally recognised actors. He has worked with Hong Kong master director Wong Kar-wai in seven films and has since clinched many international acting prizes from prestigious film festivals. Well-loved by his expressive eyes, quiet demeanour and elusive nature, Tony Leung continues to dazzle throughout his acting career.
If you’ve been smitten by the Hong Kong icon’s acting prowess and want to see more of his work, we’ve got you covered. Here, we list down 10 of his best movies with our Tatler editors giving their take on why they love and what they love about each movie.
1. In the Mood for Love
What better way to start this roundup than the movie that the title’s named after: In the Mood for Love. This 2000 romantic drama by Wong Kar-wai follows Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-shen (Maggie Cheung), who live adjacent to each other. Always left alone as their spouses are away for work, the two develop feelings for each other.
The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim, landing a Palme d’Or nomination and with Leung winning the Best Actor award—the first Hong Kong actor to do so. It’s such an iconic movie that it’s been included in many lists of the greatest films of all time.
What Tatler editors have to say:
Forever and always, this will be a masterpiece. Having first seen this film more than a decade ago, I’m still struck by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung’s quiet yet powerful melancholy, their on-screen chemistry heightened by Shigeru Umebayashi’s evocative musical score.
Among my favourite scenes are Leung and Cheung sharing a meal in Cafe Goldfinch, their profiles mirroring each other as they come to a startling realisation about their respective cheating spouses; in another, Leung relishes a spoonful of wonton in the alleyway noodle bar where he encounters Cheung in the stairwell; lastly, the final coda of the film, where Leung isn’t even facing the camera as he whispers a secret into the hollow of a tree, is one of cinema’s most poignant moments.
— Charmaine Mok, Editorial Director, Tatler Dining
I’ve seen this film a million times, but I never tired of it. This Wong Kar-wai classic, with Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as the most iconic star-crossed lovers of all time, is simply beautiful. Under Wong’s camera, guided by his longtime creative partner Christopher Doyle, the film is alternately dreamlike to capture the halting romance between Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) whose spouses are having an affair.
There are so many gems in this film: a mix of slow-motion and stunning cinematography to illustrate the repression of feelings between the characters; the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack; Maggie’s elegant appearance in qipao dresses; Tony’s sublime performance...and who can forget that scene when Chow calls Su before leaving Hong Kong, asking: “If I have an extra ferry ticket, will you come and go with me?” The entire scene is so emotional that I always get goosebumps when I watch it.
— Helen Yu, Assistant Editor