Hong Kong-born American director Wayne Wang returned to the city in 1990 to make the gritty street-level thriller LIFE IS CHEAP...BUT TOILET PAPER IS EXPENSIVE. In 1997, with the city on the verge of the British handing the colony back to the Chinese, he returned for a different look. In CHINESE BOX, Jeremy Irons plays John, an English journalist moving among the Chinese business elite and British officials at expensive nightclubs. However, the politics of transition are seen through the prism of his personal relationships. He is in love with Vivian (Gong Li), a woman he meets in Beijing who’s now working at a club owned by Chang (Michael Hui), the man she wants to marry. But Chang wants to become respectable and won’t marry her because of her checkered past. After a personal crisis, John goes out with a camcorder to capture images of the last days of British rule. He becomes fascinated by Jean, a mysterious woman who hides half her face behind a scarf as she darts through the streets aggressively selling strange items. Played with a manic verve by martial arts star Maggie Cheung, Jean comes to represent everything that is strange and enigmatic about Hong Kong. Taken from a story by Paul Theroux and written by Jean-Claude Carrière, a frequent collaborator with Luis Buñuel, CHINESE BOX is a thoughtful, realistic blend of individual lives set against a large historical backdrop.