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Who’s who in Wong Kar-wai’s debut TV show, Blossoms Shanghai?

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After much anticipation, Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai debuted his first web series Blossoms Shanghai on Tencent’s streaming platform in China on December 27.

The long-awaited series marks a full decade since the director released his last film, The Grandmaster. And in typical Wong Kar-wai fashion, it’s garnering polarising opinions and reviews. While some worry that the cinematic drama he’s known for will get lost on the small screen, others wonder if the often glacial tempo of his works will translate well into a 30-episode show.

Blossoms Shanghai is Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s first web series. Photo: @indiewire/Instagram

The director made some bold choices with this work, too. He’s released Blossoms Shanghai in two versions: Mandarin and Shanghainese. The screenplay is an adaptation of the Chinese novelist Jin Yu-cheng’s Blossoms, which details power struggles in the booming business world amid economic reform in the country.

Wong’s affinity and fascination with old Shanghai continues in this series, though the timeline is pushed forward to 1992, unlike that of the 1960s in In The Mood of Love and Days of Being Wild.

Hong Kong actors Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in a still from Wong Kar-wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love (2000). Photo: Block 2 Pictures

Blossoms Shanghai tells the story of A Bao, a Shanghainese man living large in the city. This is a stark departure from Wong’s previous works, where he hones in on the experiences of Shanghainese expats living in Hong Kong.

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Chinese actor Hu Ge attending Giorgio Armani’s grand opening in Nanjing, China. Photo: @huge.official/Instagram

Hu Ge has been at the top of the Chinese entertainment industry for the past decade. Before entering the Shanghai Theatre Academy in 2001, Hu had already been appearing in TV commercials after hosting a TV show called Sunshine Youth for three years, beginning at age 14.

Hu Ge looking dapper in a Giorgio Armani suit. It’s no surprise that he was chosen to play the lead role of self-made millionaire Mr Bao in Blossoms Shanghai. Photo: @huge.official/Instagram

Hu rose to fame for his performances in a number of period dramas, including a remake of novelist Jin Rong’s The Legend of the Condor Heroes. His good looks earned him lead roles in a dozen productions as well as the attention of international luxury brands.

Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani named him brand ambassador in China and Asia in 2016, then global ambassador in 2020. He also lent his image to the campaigns of Swiss watchmaker-jeweller Piaget and Chanel perfumes.
Hu Ge exudes class while wearing a Piaget watch. Photo: @huge.official/Instagram

Meanwhile, actress Ma Yili plays Ling Zi, a nightclub owner who helps propel A Bao to success. Also an alum of Shanghai Theater Academy, Ma graduated in 1998 and has since appeared in dozens of TV shows and films, racking up more than a handful of nominations along the way.

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The elegant Chinese actress Ma Yili is a special advocate for Unicef. Photo: @valextra/Instagram
Chinese actress Tiffany Tang for Italian brand Valentino. Photo: @tangyan1206/Instagram

Meanwhile, period dramas have boosted Tiffany Tang’s popularity. The Central Academy of Drama graduate plays Miss Wang, an influential acquaintance of A Bao, in Blossoms Shanghai.

Tiffany Tang looking stylish at Hotel Vivier in Chengdu, China, in April 2019. Photo: @tangyan1206/Instagram

Beyond making a name for herself acting in Chinese Paladin 3 and The Princess Weiyoung, Tang is a front-row regular during fashion week. A former ambassador of Bally and Coach, she’s also worked with luxury brands like Valentino and French shoemaker Roger Vivier.

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