Chungking Express

    9 March 2009, early morning

I watched Chungking Express over the weekend with Shima. I bought the Criterion Blu Ray disc for myself as soon as it came out, but lacking a Blu Ray player i’ve been waiting for a weekend in Scarborough where I could watch it on my brothers PS3. (My parents have surround sound and a giant television, which makes watching films on my iMac seem kind of lame.) Chungking Express was the first film I watched by Wong Kar Wai. I bought the VCD in high school, mostly due to the fact it starred my favourite singer at the time, Faye Wong. Watching the film on a VCD really doesn’t do it justice. The Blu Ray copy is stunning. The colours and sound are great.

Chungking Express is a somewhat surreal look at romance and relationships. The first story involves a heart broken cop (Takashi Kaneshiro) and a jilted drug dealer (Bridgette Lin). The second story is about another broken hearted cop (Tony Leung) and a woman who develops a crush on him (Faye Wong). Both stories really don’t intersect. What ties them together are their common themes. The central set piece in the film is a shawarma place that both cops visit, to eat and get advice from the proprietor, and this also helps keep the film from feeling too disjoint. The second story is probably the more famous of the two, and it features some of the better scenes and shots in the movie — like Tony Leung talking to inanimate objects in his apartment, and Faye Wong staring at Tony Leung while he drinks a coffee. The second story seems even more quirky than the first, which is probably part of its appeal.

Compared to Wong Kar Wai’s other films, Chungking Express stands alone in its tone and style. The film is filmed almost entirely hand held, and lacks a lot of the long and neatly composed shots that make up his other movies. Another departure from his other films is that both stories in Chungking Express end on a (more or less) happy note — though this is up for debate if you talk to Rishi. The movie is on the whole a lot more light hearted and accessible than Wong Kar Wai’s other films. It is one of my favourite movies. You should watch it.

Chungking Express at the Criterion web site.

 

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