Friday, September 24, 2010

#49. Chungking Express (1994)

Directed By: Wong Kar-Wai

Starring: Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung Chiu Wai

Tag line: "If my memory of her has an expiration date, let it be 10,000 years..."

Trivia:  Wong Kar-Wai modeled Brigitte Lin's character after Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes's Gloria, as well as actress Greta Garbo

There’s a lot to admire about Chungking Express, from it’s pulsating cinematic style to the performances of the film’s four leads, yet what I found most fascinating was how it took what were essentially two similar stories (the love lives, or lack thereof, of a pair of Hong Kong policemen) and told each in a completely unique manner, going so far as to delve into different genres from one to the next.

Each of the policemen in question was recently dumped by a long-time girlfriend. The first, Cop #223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro), can’t bring himself to forget the woman he loves, and calls her family from time to time just to stay “in the loop”. One night at a bar, he meets an attractive woman in a blonde wig (Brigitte Lin). What he doesn’t know is she’s a drug trafficker, and her most recent shipment has just disappeared without a trace. On the run from her suppliers, this woman must now fight to stay alive, and Cop #223 may prove her only chance for survival. Next, we’re introduced to Cop #663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), who’s stewardess girlfriend (Valerie Chow) has just walked out on him. One night, she stops by the Chungking Express, a local restaurant Cop #663 frequents, to leave a goodbye note for him, as well as the key to his apartment. But the young girl working behind the counter, whose name is Faye (Faye Wong), has herself fallen for Cop #663. So, she keeps the letter hidden, and, from time to time, uses the key to sneak into his apartment. Far from stealing anything, or rooting through Cop $663's underwear drawer, she spends her time there cleaning the place from top to bottom!

Chungking Express is a wonderful marriage of genres, creating a work that's among the most unique I’ve ever seen. The first part, which concerns the story of Cop #223, boasts exciting action, and is very fast-paced. The second (the longer of the two), about Cop #663 and his flighty secret admirer, has the look and feel of a romantic comedy, and is more light-hearted than its predecessor. Surprisingly, these two very different sequences blend together perfectly, styled in such a way that there’s no mistaking they belong to the same film, despite their conflicting personalities.

I fell in love with Chungking Express the very first time I saw it, and love it even more today.


Tan said...

Uh, need to see that :)

DVD Infatuation said...

Tan: Thanks for stopping by!

Yeah, definitely check this one out. It's a GREAT movie!

Angelo said...

This is one of Wong Kar Wai's films that I've never seen. Loved the trailer. Thanks for mentioning this one!


DVD Infatuation said...

Angelo: Thanks to you for stopping by (and for all the retweets on Twitter. I really appreciate them!)

Aside from it being Wong Kar-Wai's best film, CHUNGKING EXPRESS is on my all-time Top 10 list. You're in for a real treat!

Thanks again, and have a good one!