Chungking Express Reviews
I enjoyed the storyline, two lonely cops both connected by a Honk Kong snack bar- just brilliant. Although I have to say the second part of the film was a lot better than the first and was the heart of the film for me.
Once again the cinematography was amazing and I've noticed re-accuring themes such as; love and connections in Wong's films. I'm certainly going to watch more of his films, as I've loved all that i've watched so far.
I wish we saw more original films in Hollywood today and why can't they all be as beautiful like this?
Some brilliant performances from Tony leung and faye Wong, which for me made the film what it is. Again, I'll be watching more og Leung's films as he is becoming one of my favourite actors.
Really, everybody should watch this film. I can't recomend this enough!
Two stories, two lovelorn cops, two objects of desire: one a big-time heroin dealer in deep trouble with her boss after the cargo disappears, the other a seriously flaky take-out waitress who inadvertently gets hold of the keys to her admirer's apartment, all shot in a breathless kaleidoscope of color and hand-held camera work to create a mesmerizing portrait of Hong Kong in the 1990s.
I finally got a chance to finish this movie and I have to say that I love it. It's a very expressionistic piece with a lot of attention to film details, such as editing, framing, camera-work, etc. that makes film geeks like me gush with enthusiasm. There's a buoyancy and an energy to almost every second of the film that makes the budget production quality seem like an enhancement rather than a problem--it's as though this film could only be made on a limited budget, using a hand-held camera, cheaper filmstock and so forth. First of all, this film is not about story or even characters in the traditional story sense, although there is a little character development, it's more about communicating the experience of the characters to the audience in a way that incorporates the entirety of the film. In that way, it reminds me of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless. However, this film is a bit more centered on the characters' experience of getting over heartbreak and attempts to find new love amidst the heartbreak.
The acting in the film is just fine, although I'd have to give the upper hand to the second half of the film's duo over the first. However, despite the solid acting overall, this film is really a director's film. Some of the tricks that director Wong Kar Wai pulls are just so perfect in capturing mood and emotion. The writing is a little unspectacular, but then again, the use of voice-over and the simplistic nature of the dialogue all help drive the experiential effect of the film. There are weaknesses in the film, like the story and the occasional moments where my suspension of disbelief is tested, but these are minor details, since the film's emotional and experiential power had me feeling quite effervescent at the end of the film. I loved it.
Hearing the same song over and over is like Chinese water torture. Mr. Wong's screenplay is another form of torture. We meet four characters who have as much going on in their heads as the goldfish in the main character's aquarium. These human goldfish swim through life blithely and aimlessly, looking for the next scrap of mild pleasure to amuse themselves.
To them, relationships are mild trifles to be enjoyed before one moves onto something else. So we just watch them flit along vacuously. Yet Mr. Wong is not presenting this view of the world in a critical way. He intends his audience to have the same kind of mild pleasure as the characters on the screen do. He brings a sophisticated style of cinematography to the table, but his stories are even more shallow than the average TV sitcom. Why, oh why, does this filmmaker/goldfish continue to get great reviews around the world?
Shot mostly within the confines of a cheap but suggestively lucrative lunch shack named "Midnight Express", the film chronicles, in achingly beautiful sounds and colors, the story of two lovelorn police officers, Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), and how they painfully (and humorously) cope up with their romantic grief via their own personal idiosyncrasies. The first, a mid-twenties officer, is so pained by the estrangement of a certain girlfriend named May that he decides to buy a can of pineapple every single night until it piles up to 30. But the catch is that he only buys the ones that have an expiry date of May 1 (his birthday) so that when the said date finally comes and 'May' is still not back in his arms, it's only then that he can arrive at the conclusion that she really doesn't want him anymore, and that those fast-expiring pineapples need some desperate eating.
The second one, an officer literally living beside the airport, is silently devastated when her stewardess of a girlfriend has suddenly left him alone, needy and slightly schizophrenic, as he begins to talk to his stuff toys, console his towels and scold his soaps, among others.
But with utter disconnect, naturally, also comes a chance to connect anew. First, there's the mysterious, blond-wigged woman (Brigitte Lin), possibly a high-class low-life who has caught 223's love-hungry eyes. And then there's the infinitely quirkier Faye (Faye Wong), a short-haired young woman who's got this idiosyncratic affinity with the song "California Dreamin'". By emotionally patching these characters together to cope up with an increasingly apathetic Metropolitan existence with all their personal frustrations, vulnerabilities and imperfections intact, Wong Kar-wai has cleverly toned down "Chungking Express'" potentially overbearing angle on love to the point that the film itself is not anymore a dual tale of love but simply, in itself, a mere cinematic slice of life.
Well, granted, a more stylized version of life, that is, but still, with Wong Kar-wai's wisely organic yet weirdly fascinating approach on characterization and his purely artistic sensibility of merging his sometimes frantic but often times observant imagery with stirring music to create an audiovisual kaleidoscope, "Chungking Express" has attained a cinematic form that is wholly its own. Is the film a romantic fare? Sure, but it has something more to say than that. Is the film, then, an existential feature? Perhaps, but the film evokes so much joy and na´ve wonder that problems of existence just cannot seem to feign its enthusiasm and vigor for life (and love) at all.
With those certain indecisions about the film's real categorization, I think it's more than safe to assume that "Chungking Express", in the process, has created a new, specific type of cinematic language, specifically on how it has meandered and reflected on the qualms of love and life yet preserves its pristine affinity to just breathe, hope and desire. If "Chungking Express'" main intent is to shake me out of my apathy and convince me into wandering the streets of wherever to search for a person who may or may not repay the love that I may offer, then the film has failed. The film, after all, is never an operational 'how to' guide on finding a lost soul to connect to. Instead, it is, more significantly, a film that shows the leaps and bounds of how a certain love is lost and once again found; of a life merely wasted and a life well-lived. "Chungking Express" is just a reminder of how beautiful and reassuring it is to know that in every stream of people you may come across, there's always that one person who may just return your smile with an even bigger, more luminescent one. And better yet, there may also be that someone who may just go their way to draw you a crude boarding pass that may bring you somewhere worthwhile.
"Chungking Express", with its one-of-a-kind cinematic approach, is more concerned, in the context of love and existence, on how to say things rather than what to say, how to feel than what to feel, and how to properly enunciate emotions rather than how to choose the right words for it. And for that, I fully commend it. Only few films can make you feel so alive, and only few films, simply put, can make you feel very fortunate of having seen them. This counts as one, and I hope that its ability to make people feel may last more than 223's pineapples.