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), whose stewardess girlfriend (Valerie Chow) is about to leave him. One night, she stops by the Chungking Express, a local restaurant that Cop #663 frequents, to leave a goodbye note, and return her 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, not to steal anything or root through Cop #663's underwear drawer, but to clean 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 lighthearted 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!

DawkAngel 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!