Chungking Express (1994)
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Today being a lazy Sunday, I finally got around to watching Chungking Express. This film is something which has always been on my lengthy cinema bucket list.I am joyous that I took the the time viewing into this film as it was both uplifting and meditative amongst the chaos.
The film's plot revolves around two separate narratives regarding two policemen working within Chungking,both of whom have gone through recent break ups. Their stories are told sequentially and are both running in chagrin until they encounter a new woman.
For the first story, we become acquainted with He Qiwu, a man who pines over his most recent relationship with a girl called May. Whilst the May of which his relationship recently ended with has no screen time, there is plenty of monologue spoken from He Qiwu and interaction with other characters regarding her that as an audience we can feel his pain. (I mean, who hasn't been there before?) He Qiwu goes on the rebound and seeks out a girl after much self pity. It is at bar that he encounters a certain femme fatale.
The femme fatale is not issued a name in this story segment however it just adds to the sense of mystery she aesthetically displays by the "costume" of which she wears: A Blonde Wig and Glasses. It becomes quickly evident within the first fifteen minutes of the film that she is a dangerous presence as we see her organizes an illegal drug smuggling operation.
When He Qiwu and the woman with the blonde wig cross paths, it is not because he is after her. It is because he found himself out at a bar on the prowl and as we as viewers are sure of, the ineluctability of them meeting together is certain. They are not united together as lovers, however there is a slither of hope given to He Qiwu after their encounter and in his current position, a morale booster.
In the second story, the unnamed Cop 663 is going through the motions post break up with an air stewardess. We see that the stewardess had decided to visit a snack counter which he frequents and gave a letter to the owner regarding her wishes to break up and keys to the apartment.
This is all caught by the exuberant Faye, a worker at the counter. As Cop 663 does not wish to look at the envelope being fully aware of what the letter will detail, Faye falls him for and uses the keys to start rearranging the house while he is at his day-shift unaware. From there, the story builds around the meetings between of both Faye and Cop 663.
Throughout both stories there are reoccurring motifs that we take in such as expiry dates, the name of May, a model airplane, California Dreamin' by The Mamas & Papas, a Garfield stuffed toy and more which have been omitted from this review. The symbolism behind these help build the strength of both stories and also slightly relate them.
The setting of Chungking is a multicultural place and in being so it is interesting to hear dialog hear dialog in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Indian throughout the film.
It is hard for the setting to not draw you in. However, despite the streets being as flooded with populace as they are, we are left with the contrast of the characters usually being in isolated locations. Taciturn and with a running self monologue.
The soundtrack should be a key player in any film watched and in The Chungking Express it is not something which is not to be ignored. Most notably the soundtrack is dominated by California Dreamin' during the second half of the movie. The highlight song for me personally is a delightful Cantonese cover version of the song "Dreams" originally performed by the Cranberries sung by no other than Faye Wong, main actress of the second segment.
In regards to the cinematography, it is hard to believe that shots being taken are not being done so under natural lighting. In a scene where the Indians are assembling clothes and toys, we get various cutaway shots and amazing editing. (In particular one shot of shoes filled with cocaine/heroin being put away is shot upside down which for unknown reasons I really love) The editing is quick and fast paced, rarely lingering.
Through the use of shaky held hand camera during chase scenes and the busy streets we feel disorientated and just as lost as the characters on screen.
I believe this film is an equally a comfort to those in love as to those who are out of love. Don't give up.
Before then, he and other Hong Kong directors had stuck mostly with 'kung fu' flicks, using the formulas popularized by Bruce Lee with young audiences worldwide. 'Chungking Express' took a new direction, sweeping the 1995 Hong Kong Film Academy awards and gaining attention at other festivals in Europe and the USA.
The first of the two tales portrays a policeman and his thwarted infatuation with a mysterious femme fatale. It mostly rambles inconclusively but introduces us to exuberant, flashing Hong Kong as the setting for the second and much more satisfying love story.
Another police officer orders the same meal every day in his lunch break at a little coffee shop, 'Chungking Express.' His quiet, somber manner attracts the attention of the pretty, energetic, but lonely waitress. Then an airline hostess comes to the café and gives her an envelope for him. She peeks inside to see a farewell note and returned keys to his apartment.
The waitress proceeds on an outrageously funny quest to become part of his life. She reseals the envelope and returns only the note to him. After learning his address, she goes to his apartment when she knows he's at work and proceeds to use the keys to come in and make herself at home .cleaning and re-arranging .when he's not around. He's so depressed from his breakup that he takes little notice of the changes in his place.
Then, one day, he unexpectedly comes back home and opens the door. They are equally startled to face each other.
'What are you doing here?', she demands.
'What do you mean I live here!!'
'Now you shout and scare me so much I can't move my leg,' she complains. 'Help me to the couch .oh, oh, it hurts!! .'
This zany exchange introduces us to a delightful love story. Faye Wong as the waitress ('Faye') has a special charm, bringing Audrey Hepburn to mind. Faye is feisty, mischievous, moody......and completely irresistible. The policeman ('Badge 223') is her perfect counterpart, steadfast and honorable but badly needing someone like her for energy and affection.
After many twists and some setbacks, they find each other. At the end, we have high hopes for their happiness, even in the crowded, lonely city of Hong Kong with all its insecurities and uncertainties.
What a contrast to Fallen Angels which was the first Wong Kar Wai film I've seen. Talk about polar opposites. The characters here are your everyday working people living ordinary lives. I love the idea of the people we walk and pass by everyday. Who knows what a random meeting will lead to? The chemistry between the actors is key. Takeshi Kaneshiro (I never thought of jogging that way) and Tony Leung are both great as two fellows going through a down of sorts. No one wants to be alone. Or have you ever thought to yourself and asked, "What do I want in life? Where do I want to go?" If anyone can relate to that, Wong Kar Wai captures that in his film.
Also, I love the contrast between the leading ladies; Brigitte is mysterious as the enigmatic blone and she still shines through. On the other hand, Faye's charismatic, bouncy personality is so infectious and definitely made her my favorite. It all comes out through her facial expressions, her dancing, her bright eyed look and super smile is awesome! My mindset is fixed with that song by the Mama and the Papas and Faye. That and her Cranberries' tribute. When she and Tony are onscreen together, it's magic. My favorite thing about Tony is for all the different roles he's played, he always comes off as himself. I'm sure the ladies love his scenes in the apartment!
I wouldn't consider this a great Hong Kong movie. This is a great film PERIOD. Chungking Express has replay value and there's so much more to love and appreciate upon later viewings. Definitely see it for Faye!
At the first time i watched Chong qing sen ling, what hit me was director's original style in telling his stories, how he could make me feel exactly the same mood with the characters and still no tears in the whole movie. (Besides who needs tears while you can get rid of them by making some sports?) In fact if you are terribly under the influence of this film and you are dumbed by your lover too, don't be surprised when you find yourself drinking five or ten glasses of water in a row or something equally stupid as that. Because stupidity is what we are expected to do when messed with love anyway. Before, through or after the relation, it really doesn't matter, does it?
After you watch Chong qing sen ling you won't be the person you used to be. At least California Dreaming will have a special place in your heart, i guarantee that!
The style of the film is very much indebted to the style of the French New Wave of the early 1960's, with Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle making great use of the available lighting and mobile, hand-held cameras, to capture the action in a very fast, very kinetic kind of style. Thus, those only familiar with Wong's more recent films (which benefit from larger budgets and longer periods of production) might be surprised at how ramshackle and idiosyncratic this earlier work is... with Wong pretty much devising the whole film during a break in post-production on his epic historical piece, Ashes of Time, and apparently writing most of the scenes in the afternoons, then hitting the streets to film them that same night. As a result, the film moves at a breakneck pace and never once pauses to analyse it's inaccuracies or indeed, inconsistencies, which, at the end of the day, isn't really a problem... instead, like Godard, it's all part of the film's charm.
The first story of the two is probably the most exciting... tipping it's hat to Godard's À bout de soufflé and Cassavetes's Gloria, with it's story of a lovesick cop trying to come to terms with a recent break-up, whilst simultaneously falling in love with a heartless hit-woman. Like most of the film, but more so than the second story, this segment never stops to take a breath, instead, we are continually propelled into the dingy underworld of the Chungking Mansions, with Wong and Doyle's camera (all hand-held intimacy and stroboscopic distortion) bobbing and weaving through crowds of people; snaking it's way around a labyrinth of market places, airport terminals and back street bars; and offering up a never-ending kaleidoscope of colours, speeds, movements, actions, and bursts of garish violence. The story hinges around a chance meeting - the use of the clock is an important visual reference point and the central character's obsession with tinned pineapples with an expiration date of May 1st - though it's easy to miss this within the melange of action, violence, and moody noir.
The second segment still has a fairly fast pace, but seems more relaxed and intimate in comparison to the first, with that great theme of Wong's - unrequited love - being established in the bizarre (though utterly charming) relationship between a recently heart-broken cop and the counter girl and the local Midnight Express take-away. This segment is much more playful than the first, with a nice integration of character, and a lighter tone, which is perhaps why most people consider it the most memorable segment of the two. For me, there are enough similarities and stark coincidences linking the two segments to make them work, with Wong as a director showing us his ability to switch from something as claustrophobic and action-packed as segment one, to the relaxed, charming, almost-comedic tone of the second. There's still the Godardian influence, only here it's more Une Femme Est Une Femme than À bout de soufflé, whilst the use of music (trading the cool European synthesisers and multi-cultural mish-mash of sounds, in favour of the bouncing pop of the Mammas and the Pappas and a Cantonese cover of the Cranberries song, Dreams) helps to make the whole thing that little bit more enjoyable.
Overall, Chungking Express is a likable, frantic and somewhat off-the-wall (though I hate to use that expression) combination of noir-references, new-wave romance, and an experiment into the way that cinematic narrative can be developed... all captured with beautiful, stylistic flair by Kar-Wai and Chris Doyle. The performances from the four main leads are all exceptional, with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung-Chiu Wai essaying the two love-struck cops, while Cantonese pop-star Faye Wong and the beautiful, bewigged, Brigitte Lin, portray the respective objects of their affections. Like the film it's self, the characters all have a charm and individuality about them, hinting at a deeper character with depth and back-story, even if we don't necessarily get to see the whole picture. Again, this is another trademark of Wong's... as the film really amounts to an accumulation of scenes, characters and moments that can be picked-over by the viewer and discussed until some greater sense of meaning becomes clear.
The ending of the film refuses to pander to the conventions of traditional Hollywood film-making and is all the better for it, with Wong instead further illustrating his theme of coincidence and dislocation - with the allusion to California, replayed by a character sitting in a bar called California - really highlighting the central notion of two entities existing at the same time, without any kind of awareness. Certainly, with its brisk-pace, seesawing plot and likable characters, this could be called the most accessible Wong Kar-Wai film - perhaps the best place to start for those new to his work - but of course, beneath all the new-wave references and self-consciously chic scenarios, this is still a pretty deep film about the nature of time, regret, memory, love, loneliness and, of course, the need to belong.
The first, shorter and weaker segment follows a pineapple-obsessed cop falling for a blonde-wigged heroin smuggler. The second watches a depressed cop's ignorance as a girl with a crush revitalises his life.
The first segment is certainly a visual marvel, and Wong Kar-Wai (alongside cinematographers Christopher Doyle & Andrew Lau, the latter of Infernal Affairs fame) blazes through with a frenzy of action in a confined space. The blur, the colours and the contrast are impressive. It's also a poetic segment, but ultimately falls short, emotionally hollow without developed characters to anchor it. One could suppose that your reaction to this segment will depend on your appreciation of the themes and feelings of the main character.
One must spend more time considering the second, which more than makes up for the first ones failings. It adds a wry wit to the -better- romantic undertones, two incredibly charismatic leads (Tony Leung and Faye Wong), and one of the best repeated uses of a single song ever. California Dreamin' will forever for me be associated with this film. More importantly, the second part has a heart, a cute, quirky romance that bubbles, and the incredulity ebbs at its sweetness.
The soundtrack as a whole is full of excellent choices, though 'full' may over-exaggerate, as it's better seen as a few choice selections being repeated. Nevertheless, through the cinematography and the soundtrack, the film develops a dreamlike atmosphere, which is probably its greatest asset. The film keeps itself firmly uprooted in the clouds, and it certainly drifts.
Chungking Express is a unique film, and certainly not one for all occasions. It isn't designed to blow one away. One drifts through it, then thinks about it after its over. As a technical craft, it's a masterpiece. As a poetic piece of storytelling, its a bit more hit and miss, but it hits more than it misses.
With the constant use of "California Dreamin" and "Dreams", do you think this is a film about dreams? In some ways, it is, and in other ways it is not.
You have to give this film credit. Besides looking great and just being an overall wonderful movie, there are little things that really stand out in the writing. The "May 1" can idea, with the connection between birthdays and expiration... so clever.
1. The movie and my viewing of it make up a set of harmonious coincidences. First: According to what I have read, it was conceived and completed quickly when the director hit a two-month hiatus in the midst of another project. Second: The movie treats the way chance encounters sometimes turn into things of great consequence. Third: I saw the movie on a hot summer afternoon in 1996, also very much by chance when, while walking home from work, I suddenly wanted to spend a couple of hours in an air conditioned theater. "Chungking Express" just happened to be the first movie I found. I knew nothing about it before watching it. Fourth: And after seeing it and liking it very much, I pretty much forgot about it until seeing the Criterion DVD in 2011 – fifteen (15) years later. This belated second viewing was the one that cast a spell. And it has become stronger with every repeat viewing. Maybe this ever growing affection for the movie parallels the developing relationship between the characters.
2. Another comment on repeat viewings: I had never heard of any of the cast or crew of this movie before I saw it. I think I experienced the first viewing without having to filter my impressions through the lens of the celebrity and stardom of the performers. Instead the people in the movie – at least the non-criminal ones – are people I have come to like very much, almost as friends. A strange effect, hard to describe. It may account for the many viewings, which are almost like visiting people I simply enjoy being with. I'd be interested to find out if I'm the only one who has had this reaction.
3. A date movie, yes, but a paradoxical one. Even though when I first saw this movie I was dating two women and recall taking one of them to another certifiable "date movie" during this period, I have never seen "Chungking Express" with anyone but myself. Maybe this is a good movie for people about to go on a date to see separately before going out, making this sort of a "pre-date" movie. The cross currents of rejection and breaking up, with a cast of endearing solipsists searching for companionship and falling in love, albeit one-sidedly and with aching tentativeness, make this the only "date movie" I know of that can work its magic (for me, anyway) when enjoyed alone.
4. Eighteen years after its initial release the movie does not look terribly dated. Although at the time of release the impending reversion of Hong Kong to mainland control was three years away, the characters do not explicitly mention the subject. The prospective change of government, something "there" obliquely for my first viewing in 1996, seems to have disappeared as a significant aspect of the movie. The only obvious set of time markers is the use of pay telephones, answering services, and pagers. This retro ingredient is more than balanced by a prophetic use of abrupt, swooping, convulsive camera movements and step printing: although rooted in the world of MTV, the look of the film anticipates cell phone and You Tube video.
5. The film offers a look at some of the things going on in the world of motion pictures in the early to mid-90's: international interest in Hong Kong cinema and Asian cinema generally; the influence of MTV-inspired film technique; a spike in the perennial popularity of romantic comedies; audience acceptance of combined stories with fragmented, braided narrative lines ("Chungking Express" was released at about the same time as "Pulp Fiction".)
6. In my nearly six decades of watching movies I can't remember any of them achieving in 90 minutes or more the truth and emotional power that "Chungking Express" manages to pack into its final 15 seconds.
Is it possible for a cop to get in love? Of course it is, and when the cop is young it is even nice. Well, the movie comprises two unrelated stories, with young cops in love. Undercovered cop 223 was left by his girlfriend, and he falls for a mysterious woman with a blonde wig. It happens that she is a drug smuggler. Does it matter? As for the second half of the film, uniformed cop 633 was left by his girlfriend and now a girl working at Midnight Express falls for him. As I am a nice guy, I wouldn't deconspire more of the plot.
The title comes from the name of two places in Hong Kong: Midnight Express is a fast-food in Lan Kwai Fong (kind of Hong Kong version of SoHo); Chungking Mansions (where most of the first half of the movie takes place) is a mall-cum-flophouse, noisy, dingy, down-market place incredibly located right in the midst of Tsim Sha Tsui, a very chic Hong Kong area. I hadn't (yet?) the opportunity to be there. but I was once at Chelsea Market in Manhattan and I thought immediately at the movie of Wong Kar-Wai.
Don't look for a logic in this movie, because any logic would be fake; Wong doesn't try to arrange the moments in some succession, because each moment exists on its own, carries its own truth and doesn't care about the rest. Instead of a synthesis the movie offers non-related glimpses; instead of an ultimate truth it offers contradictory slices of truth. It's not life as we think it should be: it's life as it is.
It's soaked in neon lights. It's fun, it's noisy, it's fast. And, above all, it's filled with incredible, hypnotic poetry.
The right word for this movie would be mesmerizing. Enjoy!
The plot connects two storylines, one of which revolves around a blond wigged woman, played by Brigitte Lin, who is hired to smuggle heroine out of Hong Kong. The other focuses on young Cop 223, named He Zhiwu played by Takeshi Kaneshiro, who has just broken up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Depressed and lonely, Cop 223 decides to buy a can of pineapple, his ex-girlfriend May's favorite fruit, every day until May 1.
Wong strings the two stories along using mixes of handheld camera and set shots, normal film, video, and pixilated images. The plot of the film is interesting and gripping, as well as hard to follow, but the true nature of the film comes through in the actual film itself. The direction and cinematography are both superb, and for viewers looking to appreciate a well made movie Chongqing senlin should satisfy, but for average Joe this film may rate somewhere near The Postman.
Chungking Express, released in 1994 and directed by Kar-wai Wong, takes place in Hong Kong and is the classic girl meets guy, girl likes guy, girl breaks into guy's apartment with stolen key and plays with his possessions film. What the film lacks in plot clarity it makes up for in technical excellence.
The plot connects two storylines, one of which revolves around Cop 663, played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai, who breaks up with his airlines stewardess girlfriend. The other story follows a young service industry worker named Faye, played by Hong Kong's pop queen Faye, who falls in love with Cop 663 and does her best to become part of his life without ever needing to talk or be with him by using his apartment only when he's not there.
The two plots entwine and work off of each other but they are slow and unimportant. The commentary on loneliness and depression, and the depiction of the difficulties of real everyday relationships are the true focus of the story, and Wong uses pace and perspective in order to advance these ideas. Chungking Express proceeds slowly and deliberately, creating a sense of repetitiveness that adds to the feeling of depression showed by Cop 663. The film also uses a lot of hand held camera, which allows the audience to lose themselves further in the frustrations of the relationships. While Chungking Express may be too slow paced and trivial for Hollywooded viewers, film buffs and aficionados would be interested by its unique film style.
The direction of the movie is excellent. The camera works in such a way that it feels as though you, an audience member, is right in on the action, standing beside the characters as an observer; as such, the movie has a deep, subjective feel to it. The movie is jarring at times, but that adds to that subjective experience. There are various points where the movie jumps ahead in timeline in very quick succession, giving the audience the feeling of the fleeting nature of time. The movie does not spoon-feed you, rather, it asks you to think and to feel. The acting feels very natural, almost improvisational, and it is required for a movie such as this. Wong Kar Wai, one of the auteurs of world cinema, has made many great movies since, but to this day, Chungking Express stands out as his best, and one of the best movies, in my opinion, of all time.
There is one key word which describes this film to its core - irritating.
The most easily explained example of this is the director's use - or, more accurately, abuse - of music. In the first half, a really dull reggae tune is played about three times (when once is too often). But in the second half, The Mommas And The Papas "California Dreamin'" is played at least seven times, usually at top volume. Godsakes, whether you liked the song or not beforehand, you'd be thoroughly sick of it by the end. Just think, some people claim to have seen this film four or five times. This means they've listened to California Dreamin either 28 or 35 times.....
All of this needless hyper-repetition (it contributes nothing to the story) could possibly be excused if the remainder of the film had any lingering merit, or if the story was in any way involving.
But it ain't.
The only aspect I found likeable was Bridgette Lin's charging around and still playing Asia The Invincible in a raincoat and sunnies. Even this wore off fairly quickly.
I'm sure this film's undeserved high reputation will convince many poor suckers to go and see it.
I can only warn you - if you've never seen a HK movie before, don't start with this one.
If you feel compelled to watch it, avoid at all costs seeing it in a cinema. The fast-forward and mute buttons are essential tools for survival here.
You have been warned !
The first story tells of lonely cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who is obsessed with expiration dates. Suffering from a broken heart, he's giving his ex-love, May, one last chance. When his canned food expires, so does his love for May. Although on the eve of his birthday he meets a woman (Brigitte Lin), who is suffering from her own broken heart, whom he is able to share his pain with.
The second story tells of cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), who is suffering from romantic problems with an air hostess (Valerie Chow). He eases his pain by going to a small time deli express, and meets one of the expresses lovely exployees named Faye (Faye Wong).
A great, imaginative, and powerful film that should not be missed by anybody who is serious about movies. Boasting an excellent soundtrack by Frankie Chan and Roel A. Garcia, with songs featured by Canto-Pop queen Faye Wong, along with several other old time hits, just gives me more reasons to recommend this to you. Two huge thumbs up.
Today I sat down to watch it with great excitement, ready to find another treasure of film-making. Now I feel like having watched a standard and uninteresting Hollywood-style romantic comedy. I must confess that I liked watching the movie to the end, but this is only related to the fact that I find Faye Wong quite beautiful! It unfortunately seemed to me that the whole movie was a waste of time if you exclude seeing FW for an hour which is of course not a cinematic experience.
The first two movies I mentioned above contained many dimensions of the human heart; they made the audience think on the characters, the stories and their own lives. However, the story in this movie is so shallow and the characters are all 2D and very dull. They never surprise you, do or say an interesting thing throughout the movie.
The two stories of the movie almost had nothing in common (except being the policemen as the male characters having some kind of love affair with stewardesses some time) and those stories contribute nothing to each other. I wonder why did the director bring them together.
The music was also so repetitive and useless after a point. Colour usage and some interesting shots were all that deserved nice comments in this movie.
Finally, I must congratulate Wong Kar-Wai for his career path from CK Express to ITMFL and 2046. A great success...
Quentin Tarantino was responsible for bringing this loser to America through his Rolling Thunder Productions company, though I cannot for the life of me figure out why a man with his talent would bother. He was known to have remarked, "I'm happy to love a movie this much." A lot of us, though, hope he will concentrate on making his audiences happy with more worthwhile discoveries in the future.
While this isolative approach to creating a kind of cinematic montage may appeal to a few students or critics steeped in the inside language of contemporary filmmaking, it is flatly irritating and condescending to us commoners who just fell off the haywagon. An overt avoidance of accessibility may be the intentional hallmark of auteurs like Kar-wai Wong and Tarantino, but to me it comes across as Andy Warhol warmed over. The only redeeming characteristic I find is in the production values, and them there just ain't going to cut it all by themselfs.
This is one of those productions in which you watch and listen and wait anxiously and in vain for some clever development of an idea or thought to sustain all the remarkable and beautiful individual scenes. Sorry. The calligraphic credits unexpectedly begin to roll just as your interest begins to stir. I get the same big yawn and let-down reading what I guess are very knowledgeable and thorough comments about this film that never lead to anything truly comprehensible. Ideas and images without some external context are not my idea of fun.
Call me a philistine roaming the streets of Hong Kong looking for a bowl of chop suey.
The two love stories that the movie portrays I think are really great. Kar-wai did an amazing job with conveying the true meaning of the film to the audience. He wanted us to see how much we, as people, have the potential to greatly impact someone's life in just five minutes. The first love story that is told is of a sadder one. Kar-wai wants us to see that love is great and life-changing but it also has potential to fade away, leaving us feeling very lonely and empty inside. The second story displays a story of unconventional love between two people who met over a fast-food counter. Both of these stories are tied together by them sharing some of the same places they go to just at different moments in time.
After watching this film, it can greatly change the way one views their life and reality around them. Kar-wai sends a true, non sugar-coated view of everyday life that transcends how we view life.
"Chungking Express" is all about love, apparently, but I don't think it can rightfully be called a romantic movie. The characters are all so obsessive, neurotic and downright oddball that the film makes love seem more like a bizarre illness than something to be cherished.
The narrative is awkwardly split into two distinct stories, both involving mopey guys who are mooning over girlfriends they've lost. The two guys are pretty similar - they're both nice, passive, quirky, and cops - so I wonder why the film-makers felt the need to tell two separate stories in the first place. Why not flesh out one or the other more thoroughly? Or do a proper anthology with lots of "shorts" about love?
Despite their weirdness, the characters are endearing, but their behavior often veers away from realism and into the realm of what I call "movie-land." It seems implausible, for example, that a woman would fall in love with a complete stranger, and then decide to gradually clean and refurbish his apartment, when he's not home and without his knowledge, over the course of several weeks. That kind of behavior is sort of insane, isn't it? In real life, it'd get you arrested. It stretches credibility even further that it appears to take this guy forever to notice the changes to his surroundings, and when he finally does notice, he discusses the matter with a bar of soap. That's what I mean by "movie-land."
Compounding my irritation, the characters sometimes decide to wax poetic about their personal philosophies, in that mock-deep movie way, saying things like "people remind me of expired cans of pineapples" or some such rubbish. Is this really deep, or is it just like that old Saturday Night Live sketch, "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy"?
Thankfully, "Chungking Express" is somewhat elevated by interesting shots of Hong Kong and energetic (but occasionally tiresome) hand-held camera work. The narrative has a disjointed feeling that is both a plus (it forces you to watch events closely, which is good) and a minus (because sometimes it's too confusing). In the first story, for example, I quickly lost track of exactly what on earth the woman in the blonde wig was up to, and who she happened to be shooting at each particular moment.
It sounds like I really hated this movie, but I didn't. I just think it fits into that category of art-house movies that really aren't so great. I applaud it for being experimental and daring, but I don't think it really sheds a lot of light on the human condition. It's too slick and self-consciously over-the-top to achieve that particular goal.