Thursday, October 24, 2013

878. Chong qing sen lin/Chungking Express (1994)

Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Wong Kar-Wai
Written By: Wong Kar-Wai
Main Cast: Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Valerie Chow
Click here to view the trailer


Moving right along, we come to my final Wong Kar-Wai picture from THE BOOK - "Chungking Express", one that I had actually seen previously and didn't much care for. Why? I have no clue, because honestly, there isn't much to dislike about this one.

The film is actually two separate stories, so we'll take them one by one and go from there. The first story, which runs about forty-five minutes of the film's approximately ninety minute duration, focuses on a police detective, who has recently had his heart broken. His ex-girlfriend, May left him on April 1st and he's been down in the dumps ever since. He's decided that for each day in April, he'll go to the market and buy a can of pineapple that is dated to expire on May 1st, which is also his birthday. If May hasn't returned to him by the time the pineapple has expired, then he'll move on. Meanwhile, a female criminal donning a blonde wig, raincoat and sunglasses (because one never knows when it will rain or when it will shine) is tracking down some Indian gentlemen who have stolen some drugs from her. She scours the city, but to no avail, ending up in a bar, next to our broken hearted policeman. The second story (my favorite of the two) stars Tony Leung Chiu-Wai ("Happy Together", "In the Mood for Love") as beat cop #663, who has also had his heart broken by a beautiful stewardess. He gets into the habit of going to a local snack bar, during his lunch hour and meets a cute, young worker there named Faye (Wong). Faye, though she doesn't show it, is also interested in him, but the relationship goes virtually untested. When the stewardess drops a letter off at the snack bar, knowing that her ex eats there, Faye reads it and also finds a key to the cop's apartment inside. She decides to let herself in, redecorate his apartment and try to wipe away his past and help him to heal.

The thing that I love about "Chungking Express" is this: Just when I got used to the characters in the first story and not remembering that the film was split into two parts, the first story ends and the second one begins. It was at this time that I was kind of disappointed, as I wanted to continue to explore the detective and the criminal and see where things went. So then, the film has an obstacle: to make me forget about the first set of characters and make me fall in love all over again with the second set. It succeeded! In fact, as I said above, the second story was actually my favorite of the two and it wasn't until the film was all said and done and I reflected, that I realized that as much as I loved both stories, neither had enough meat to make up their own, full length movie - as much as we may have wanted them to.

I may not have enough to give this film the full blown, coveted '10', but this is another film where quibbling over numbers is pointless and just saying it's a great movie is enough. You've got some fantastic cinematography and after reading into it, I find the name Christopher Doyle, a name I recognize, as the one who did the marvelous filming. I find that when I think back to watching this movie last night, a few things stand out: a blurry look at Hong Kong, an unforgettable score and poetic dialogue, that wasn't too poetic. The point I really loved though was that score, which is reminiscent of other Kar-Wai films in that it repeats often, gets hammered into your head and is something you welcome to have hammered into your head. I'm really not sure where to go from here. It's a great movie that comes with a high recommendation. It's a great intro to Kar-Wai and would work really well in a triple feature with "Happy Together" and "In the Mood for Love" - the other two films from THE BOOK. Now I just have to delve into some more of his work and hope it's as good.

RATING: 8/10  We'll play it safe with an '8', but don't let that fool 'ya, as I could see this one growing on me even more and nabbing that '10'. I will say that I liked "Happy Together" better than this, but liked "Chungking Express" better than "In the Mood for Love".


October 24, 2013  12:12pm

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