Wednesday

Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung is not a full-time Wong Kar-wai disciple. Best known in the United States for Men Suddenly in Black, which acted like a gangster flick but was actually about marital discord, Pang also wrote Fulltime Killer, a hit-man novel that became an eye-popping Johnnie To/Wai Ka-fai flick. Yet there’s a lot of Wong in Pang’s 2004 Beyond Our Ken (pictured), which depicts lost romance in Hong-Kong-on-the-Seine, rendered with neon hues, a restless handheld camera, and an improvisational feel. Shy, pretty Chinese-lit teacher Wai-ching (Cantopop star Gillian Chung) meets cute, brash upscale-club waitress Shirley (Tao Hong), but not by accident. Shirley’s boyfriend is Ken, Wai-ching’s ex, and the veteran has a warning for the newbie. Ken has a foolproof line—“Miss, I’m a firefighter, and I’d like to rescue you”—but isn’t as chivalrous as he seems, Wai-ching explains. He posted nude photos of Wai-Ching on a Web site, which got her fired. Now she wants Shirley to help her slip into the apartment Ken shares with his grandmother so they can delete the photos. If the ensuing screwball intrigue leads to a twist ending (or two) that doesn’t quite convince, the script (co-written by Pang) is otherwise deft. But the key to the film, this month’s entry in the “Asian Cinevisions” series, is its mood, music, and verve, all of which qualify Pang as the heir to somebody’s New Wave. The film shows at 8 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre, 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW. $9.50. (202) 966-6000. (Mark Jenkins)