Wong Kar-Wai's upcoming TV series Blossoms Shanghai has released its first trailer, giving viewers a peek at the first new work from the auteur in nearly a decade.
Though Wong is most often thought of as a Hong Kong director, he was born in Shanghai. The Blossoms series is his first of two long-anticipated adaptations of a celebrated eponymous novel by Jin Yucheng, and appears to be a stylish love letter to his hometown. A film version of Blossoms is also in the works.
The series will consist of 24 hour-long episodes, his production firm Jet Tone Productions confirmed to Variety. Though Wong has produced and directed the pilot, he will only produce and helm some of the future episodes. It remains unclear how many others are already completed or in the works, and the series does not yet have a release date.
Blossoms nonetheless marks his first turn behind the camera since 2013's martial arts drama The Grandmaster.
Jin's novel amassed a huge local following of readers drawn to his unassuming yet nuanced descriptions of everyday life in Shanghai over the course of multiple decades. Unfolding in vignettes rather than a sweeping, plot-driving narrative, the book introduces a world of minor characters but primarily centres on the romantic entanglements, family history and fate of two men – one from a military family and one from a more capitalist family – from the Cultural Revolution up to the modern era.
Notably, it was written in Shanghainese dialect, which the author considers his first and primary language, rather than Mandarin.
Clocking in at just over a minute, the first-look trailer provides a glimpse into Wong's vision of the world of Jin's novel through the eyes of the main character Ah Bao, played by Shanghai native Hu Ge.
It is set to a voice-over monologue from Hu, delivered in Mandarin. The melancholy text, written in disjointed, poetic bursts, is juxtaposed against Chubby Checker's upbeat 1961 hit Let's Twist Again. His speech is distinctly in Wong's signature cadence, veering away stylistically from the patter of Yu's Shanghainese text.
Despite their excitement at the prospect of new work by a beloved director, a number of Chinese cinephiles were a bit let down by the slick look of the trailer.
"That music, the style and sets make it look like an ad for men's luxury clothing," one grumbled.
Others were struck by Hu's charisma.
"Is Hu Ge the next Tony Leung?" one film blogger wondered, noting similarities between his onscreen presence and that of Wong's frequent leading man.
The dapper Hu first broke out in the 2005 Wuxia TV series Chinese Paladin and cemented his stardom with twin 2015 TV hits, historical dramas The Disguiser and Nirvana In Fire. He's best known to international viewers as the leading man in Diao Yinan's noir Wild Goose Lake, which debuted in competition at Cannes in 2019.
Blossoms was written by screenwriter Qin Wen and features cinematography from Oscar-winning Peter Pau of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. – Reuters