Chungking Express

"Excellent"

Chungking Express Review


If Happy Together and In the Mood for Love are director Wong Kar Wai's Hong Kong art house ballads, Chungking Express is his smash-hit pop song -- light and fun with a hint of truth. While the two former films explore relationships to their innermost depths, Express flirts with the nostalgic grief and forlorn desperation in finding and losing love through its individual characters. But what it lacks in thematic depth it makes up for in charisma and honesty.

Chungking Express offers two parallel stories of love and loss brought together by a dine-and-dash eatery. In the first half of the film, a detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) stops in at the local greasy food dive while pining over his lost love. And in the second half, a beat street cop (Tony Leung) stops in while also pining over his lost love. Although Kaneshiro's desperation and tragic romanticism sparks our interest in the first story of the film, it's the second story that really captures our attention. The power of that second story line comes from Faye Wong, who invades the screen (and Tony Leung's) apartment with childish charm and an obsession with the Mama's and Papa's "California Dreaming."

While Wong is the stand-out star, as her infatuation with Leung sends her sneaking into his apartment to redecorate, Chungking Express truly succeeds because it romanticizes post-relationship pain. We see Kaneshiro calling old girlfriends in an act of lonely desperation and Leung's assumption that his ex-girlfriend is redecorating his apartment, and we can relate to the futility of holding out hope that there's still a chance. Yet the depressing weight of the melodramatic is kept at bay by Wong Kar Wai's humor -- such as when Kaneshiro is buying and eating expired cans of pineapple or Leung is personifying his household items such as a crying dish rag or thinning bar of soap.

Where Wong Kar Wai's later works have a steady hand and clear vision, Chungking Express rushes by with Wong's hand-held camera in tow. The slow-motion shots flash, chasing Kaneshiro through crowded Hong Kong streets, and the free-roaming camera follows Faye Wong through the cramped corners of Leung's apartment. Shot and edited in two months during a break in the filming of Ashes of Time, Express was a way of clearing the cobwebs while he edited the martial arts epic, and its guerilla shooting style shows. But its rapid pace keeps the stories from wearing out their welcome.

Like the Faye Wong cover of The Cranberries "Dreams," the poppy Chungking Express offers enough to relate to without letting the plot lines linger. Showing a person's loneliness in the relationship aftermath lets us connect on a superficial level, without having to plunder the depths of that relationship pain. And Express is better for it. Although it lacks the depth of Wong's other works, Chungking Express prefers a smile to a frown.

Aka Chung Hing sam lam.



Chungking Express

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th March 1996

Distributed by: Miramax

Production compaines: Jet Tone Production

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Chan Yi-kan

Starring: as Woman in blonde wig (as Ching-hsia Lin), as Policeman 663, as Faye, as He Zhiwu, Cop 223, Valerie Chow as Air Hostess, Chen Jinquan as Manager of 'Midnight Express', Lee-na Kwan as Richard (as Guan Lina), Zhiming Huang as Man, Liang Zhen as The 2nd May, Songshen Zuo as Man

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.