"Chungking Express" French Theatrical Poster
AKA: Chung King Express
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Writer: Wong Kar Wai
Cinematographer: Christopher Doyle
Cast: Brigitte Lin, Kaneshiro Takeshi, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Faye Wong, Valerie Chow Kar Ling, Piggy Chan Kam Chuen, Piggy Chan Kam Chuen, Joh Chung Sing
Running Time: 102 min.
By Lady Tequila
Wong Kar-Wai’s Hong Kong is an offbeat, stylised, slow-motion blur of colours, sounds, tastes and smells which roll off the screen with the vividness of a dream. The ever-present, streaking neon of the city night is just unforgettable, and provides a great backdrop for this simple slice of life, in which two stories run concurrently, with many similar themes explored between them, such as lovesickness and being alone in a world of people. Nothing is rammed down our throats. Nothing is spelled out. Subtlety is everything here, and in a film where narrative and plot is forsaken for imagery and emotions, a simple moment can mean so much. Just like in ‘real life’.
Even the music kicks ass. California Dreaming never sounded so good. There are some top-notch performances. Brigitte Lin reminds us why she was famous in the first place and fills the screen with a wonderful presence – and the blonde Marilyn wig is a scream! Much was made of Faye Wong…I’m going to be radical and say, yes, she’s OK but after a while it seems like she only has the one expression: a sort of “I’m-yearning-and-poetic-but-also-kookie” thing, but she does bring a nice sense of innocence to the role. Takeshi Kaneshiro is kind of cool, and there’s an almost exuberant feeling about him. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai is brilliant, as ever; he just has so much charisma, and in this movie there are several shots of him doing nothing much at all – but he fills that screen, nonetheless. His character is the archetypal Wong Kar-Wai male: aloof, mysterious, untouchable, and very alone. Favourite hobby – leaning against the wall and smoking cigarettes.
On the downside, the fact that there are essentially two different stories going on at the same time, with equal time given to each, can mean that some of the simplicity Wong Kar-Wai seemed to try so hard to evoke becomes lost. I think a much more powerful film could’ve been made if just one of the stories was taken and concentrated on. Also, there are times when some of the ‘symbolic moments’ meander a bit down paths not so easy to follow – tinned pineapple, anyone? I confess I found that a little tortuous. But in a way, those kind of moments are all the more reason to like this movie, where imperfections seem more like cinematic explorations and experiments. And anyway, with themes of imperfect and unrequited love (and mouldy tins of pineapple) surely a little imperfection is a good thing?
Lady Tequila’s Rating: 8/10
Certain films offer the same nostalgic feelings that often envelope us when listening to a favorite song or catching a familiar scent. For example, “Reservoir Dogs” and Woo’s “The Killer” will forever remind me of one memorable summer seven years ago when I caught both on video, back-to-back, for the first time. Wong Kar Wai’s “Chungking Express” also stirs feelings of nostalgia for another summer not too long ago. Not everyone will revere this film like I do, but most will agree it’s a wonderfully simple, quirky film with outstanding, energetic performances by Takeshi Kaneshiro and a beautiful Faye Wong. Sure, it meanders off-course a couple times (expired pineapples?!), but that’s part of the appeal. To date, Wong Kar-Wai’s best — and certainly most fun — film.
Alexander’s Rating: 9.5/10
This is the best Hong Kong film I have ever seen. Hell, this is the best film in any country I have ever seen! There is not one bad thing I can say about this film. The acting is amazing, the direction superb, and the cinematography (courtesy of Christopher Doyle) is beautiful. After seeing this film, I had such a huge crush on Faye Wong. She is great in this film. Another great performance was that of Takeshi Kaneshiro. He is too cool, and if you dont crack up when he starts yelling at the employee at the store about the feelings of the expired pineapples, there is something seriously wrong with you. I never grow tired of this film. I watch nearly every other week. I can’t praise this film enough. Wong Kar Wai is a genius.
Yates’ Rating: 10/10
By James H.
Wong Kar-Wai’s film, “Chungking Express”, is easily one of the most visually pleasing films I have ever seen. The film revolves around two separate stories about two police officers who have recently been ousted from their respective relationships.
There’s not much that can be said about this film that hasn’t been said before. The cinematography is perfect, the acting is great, and the music is superb (although, you may be sick of “California Dreamin” by the end of it).
The one problem I had though, was with the subtitles. The version I have is the American release under Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder company. I would have thought that because he liked the film, he would have re-mastered it and made the subtitles just a little clearer.
I’ll have to agree with Jeff on this one, I did not find anything wrong with the film. It’s fun, it’s uplifting, and we can all relate, because I’m sure we’ve all been there before.
James H’s Rating: 10/10
By Vic Nguyen
Art-house director Wong Kar-wai, in a brief hiatus from editing his epic Ashes of Time, found the time to film this little masterpiece, which is considered by many to be a superior effort. Two intersecting stories about lost love and isolation are enhanced by superb cinematography and delightful performances from Faye Wong and Tony Leung Chiu-wai. Although the soundtrack is plagued by repetition (The Mama’s and Papa’s California Dreamin is played at least 6 times, maybe more), that in no way alters the enjoyment one receives when viewing this delightful production. Also features Valerie Chow, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Brigette Lin in her final screen performance.
Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 10/10