Features and Columns · Movies

Just One Look: How Tony Leung Acts with His Eyes

The eyes (of Tony Leung) have it.
Tony Leung In The Mood For Love
The Criterion Collection
By  · Published on September 6th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on how the actor Tony Leung acts with his eyes.


Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a huge box office success. It’s also one of the best-reviewed movies of the year. And there’s one thing critics and moviegoers agree on: this latest Marvel Cinematic Universe entry belongs to Tony Leung.

His villainous turn as Xu Wenwu in Shang-Chi surprisingly marks the Hong Kong superstar’s first big Hollywood project. Consequently, it will invariably act as an introduction to Leung for many Western moviegoers. Which is exciting. Because the Cult of Leung is always actively recruiting.

And good news: if you’re looking to dig into Tony Leung’s forty-year-plus career, you are truly spoiled for choice. Throw a dart at the man’s IMDb page and you will be treated to some of the greatest masterpieces Hong Kong cinema has to offer. These include Leung’s decades-long collaboration with the great Wong Kar-Wai to his work in wuxia bangers like 2002’s Hero and Gun-Fu progenitors like John Woo’s Hard Boiled.

Throughout Leung’s long and ongoing career, one undeniable throughline persists. Leung’s striking ability to speak volumes without uttering a word. All it takes with Leung is a look: a pained upward stare, a stolen glance, or a wounded wince. His inner life isn’t written on his face so much as his face testifies to the existence of inner life. Leung’s characters feel heart-achingly real. And that’s what makes him one of the best.

The video essay below offers a fast-and-furious beginner’s guide to Tony Leung’s career, from his fortuitous friendship with comedian Stephen Chow to his gradual shift from expressive silent performances to more understated inner complexity.

Watch “How Tony Leung Acts With His Eyes”:


Who made this?

This video on how Tony Leung acts with his eyes is by Accented Cinema, a Canadian-based YouTube video essay series with a focus on foreign cinema. You can subscribe to Accented Cinema for bi-weekly uploads here. You can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).