Chungking Express

Two melancholic Hong Kong policemen fall in love: one with a mysterious underworld figure, the other with a beautiful and ethereal server at a late-night restaurant he frequents.
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Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Woman in Blonde Wig: Brigitte Lin
  • Cop 663: Tony Leung Chiu-wai
  • Faye: Faye Wong
  • He Zhiwu, Cop 223: Takeshi Kaneshiro
  • Air Hostess: Valerie Chow
  • Owner of Eatery: Piggy Chan
  • May: Kwan Lee-na
  • K Store Clerk: Jimmy Wong Chi-ming
  • Replacement for Cop 663: Leung San
  • Stewardess’ New Boyfriend: Rico Chu Tak-on
  • Complaining Customer (uncredited): Lynne Langdon
  • Bar Maid (uncredited): Vickie Eng

Film Crew:

  • Director of Photography: Christopher Doyle
  • Director: Wong Kar-wai
  • Original Music Composer: Michael Galasso
  • Production Supervisor: Jacky Pang
  • Costume Design: William Chang
  • Producer: Jeffrey Lau
  • Editor: Eric Kwong Chi-Leung
  • Director of Photography: Andrew Lau
  • Original Music Composer: Roel A. García
  • Editor: Hai Kit-Wai
  • Makeup Artist: Kwan Lee-na
  • Executive Producer: Pui-wah Chan
  • Original Music Composer: Frankie Chan Fan-Kei
  • Producer: Yi-kan Chan

Movie Reviews:

  • eliasmata: A week has passed since I watched this film. I wanted to let it sit with me for a bit before watching it again and giving it a proper response.

    Films like this, which are hyped to an unbelievable degree, end up sending an audience to end up watching it with elevated expectations, only to be ultimately disappointed afterwards. It’s a fact that many films suffer considerably from this aspect of our cinephile culture, I’ve experienced it with many films before.

    _Chungking Express_ has a reputation that I think may be beyond what it intended, with it being an Out-of-Print title at Criterion, the prices for the Blu-ray being obnoxiously high, and the constant barrage of exuberant reactions from many who’ve seen the film. This kind of superficial intrigue alone can set me up with expectations that are likely to not be met. Every film that is being made does not intend to create this façade of a reputation, it’s just a film. Most creators are not there to make this kind of reaction happen out of their films, and yet, we somehow continue to do so…

    I’m rambling, aren’t I? I think this is just my criticism with film culture regarding the hyping of certain films.

    And yet, somehow, despite my attempts to condense these (potential) hyperbolic reactions, _Chungking Express_ may have exceeded my expectations. Perhaps that makes me a hypocrite regarding this issue, but then again, if I enjoyed the film to the extent at which it met my expectations (or surpassed them in this case), am I to be negatively looked at for criticizing these actions, but essentially having them work on me specifically with _Chungking Express_? If so, then let it be I guess. Regardless, this film was one of the best experiences I have had in a while.

    It is surprisingly easy for me to connect with this film and its characters. All of them have a certain struggle they must deal with, whether it’d be relationship problems, not being able to move on, or even simply failing to accomplish a certain task. It’s all relatively simple if I think about it, there isn’t much in terms of characterization for many of the subjects in the film, and yet, I don’t believe there needs to be that much. Simply leaving it the way it is works extremely well, and I’m willing to believe that Wong Kar-Wai understood this.

    There are statements that explain how Wong Kar-Wai essentially wrote scenarios for the film the morning of and shot the scenes later in the day. Easily, this could lead to a jumbled mess of separate ideas thrown together in the editing room at a feature length time. And yet, he stays consistent in the thematic ideas he proposes. Shot chronologically, the ideas set up through the first half of the film, have threads that continue onwards towards the second half.

    One of my favorite directors, Krzysztof Kieślowski, uses the elements of interconnectedness within his films. Regardless of how different the stories might be, there is something there that connects each story together. In _Chungking Express_, that idea is essentially brought out brazenly, to the extent at which it initially shocked me. That one moment at the half-way mark of the film, comes at you so fast, that afterwards you’re left gasped for what the film turns into. It’s a brazen switch of narrative, and yet, it’s still leaves the film to be connected altogether.

    The expectations for love are very much tricky in it of themselves, as is shown with each character that one sees in the film. It’s not simple, it isn’t black and white, but rather a spectrum that one must align itself with, and possibly adapt to if necessary. To deal with the aspects of love in a film can either be hokey and misguided, or it can be meticulous and interesting. _Chungking Express_ finds a middle ground between these two, not dealing too much towards the intellectual side of these issues, but not straying away too far towards the clichéd. Wong Kar-Wai doesn’t treat these characters as caricatures. Sure, there are some humorous; sometimes childish, moments with Faye, but it doesn’t take away from her character. As with every subject in the film, there is something to latch on to. All around the thematic ideas of love, or the lack thereof, worked together so well, that it leads to these characters feeling authentic. Not simply words on a script.

    I really don’t know what else to say. I was awestruck the first time, and I feel even more so now. This is a film that really hit it home with me. More so than other films in the past.

    I’ll say this, by the end of the film, I had similar vibes to when I finished _Lost in Translation_ for the first time. Soon afterwards, that film was my favorite of all time for years.

    Film culture is fascinating, it may lead to disappointing outcomes based on hyperbolic expectations, or it may lead to a film experience that you never thought were possible.

    I’m beginning to lean towards the latter with _Chungking Express_.

    What a difference a day made, what a difference a film makes.

    But then again, it all comes down to personal preference, so for all I know you may hate this film. I don’t know. You do you, and I’ll do me. Got it?

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