Starring: Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong
Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Running Time: 102 mins
Chungking Express is a Hong Kong film about two police officers down on their luck who unexpectedly fall in love, each with a mysterious woman.
Despite the fact that I spent the majority of this movie not believing I understood what was going on, I was fascinated by Chungking Express. It’s not a grandiose art picture as its visuals and tone may suggest, but instead a natural, grounded and human story about relationships and the city lifestyle, and the way that it managed to inexplicably engross me from start to finish was really something.
Before I get into the story, I’ll just talk about the directing and cinematography, because that’s what’s most striking when it starts. Particularly in the first half of the movie, there are a lot of time-lapse styled shots to recreate the bustling nature of the city, with our main characters stood still in the middle of it, to mirror their loneliness. I thought that that was a really nice touch in the opening stages to get you focussed on the film’s central theme, which worked in such an organic and subtle way that I didn’t even realise I had got a hold of it yet.
And that’s what impressed me most about this movie, that it could engross me to such an extent in such a natural way. From the opening sequence, I was immersed in this beautiful world, but I never realised that until the film was over. It’s a rare occurrence when a film manages to do this so organically, but Chungking Express’ relaxed and often almost psychedelic tone makes it immensely easy to become so engrossed in, and that made it a hugely pleasant and engaging watch from beginning to end.
The only issue with that is that I often found myself thinking I didn’t know what was going on. Because I’d never had a moment where I felt like I ‘got’ this film, I still thought to myself that there was something I was missing. However, the beauty of this story is that it’s not full of pretentious hidden meanings and criticisms of society; it has a central focus about city dwellers’ relationships, and it does that consistently and interestingly right the way through the film.
Overall, Chungking Express is a relaxing watch, full of intrigue and engaging emotional drama from start to finish, and the way that it manages to engross you in such a natural and subtle way was really special, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.9.