Chungking Express

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: Week Of 3/13/96)

By Alex Lau

Just within the last couple of months, John Woo and Jackie Chan have both jumped from the Hong Kong film world to American box office success. Now, with the help of Quentin Tarantino, writer/director Wong Kar-Wai is trying for art house success with the American release of his 1994 film ³Chungking Express.²

It¹s split into two stories, about a pair of cops who have been dumped by their girlfriends, and the measures they take to get over it. Takeshi Kaneshiro, the first cop, has taken to buying cans of pineapples with the same expiration date, so that he can mark the expiration of his girlfriend¹s love. Tony Leung, the second cop, is so lonely that he talks to his soap and towels for want of companionship.

The only thing that binds these two together is a snack bar called the Midnight Express. The first cop uses its phone to call his ex-girlfriend¹s family, denying that he¹s calling for her. The second cop meets a girl who works there. When she¹s not grooving to ³California Dreaming², she¹s, well, stalking him.

³Chungking Express² was put together in less than three months, and yet it still maintains a strong impression of Hong Kong with and without the glitter. Director Wong and Cinematographer Christopher Doyle bring out the seamy underbelly of the city, and yet we can still sympathize with the characters and their situations. The loneliness of a big city like Hong Kong is infectious.

As Woo is famous for his ballet-like action sequences, and Chan is famous for doing his own stunts, Wong is becoming famous for using a kaleidoscopic visual style and a cast of anti-heroes to build a complex storyline. ³Chungking Express² is no different. Tarantino¹s new company, Rolling Thunder, chose ³Chungking Express² for its first release, and it looks like they chose wisely. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Copyright 1996 Alex Lau

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