Quentin Tarantino introduced a screening of Chungking Express some time ago and confessed that while watching it on video, “I just started crying.” He cried not because the movie was sad, he said, but because “I’m just so happy to love a movie this much.” Chungking Express is largely a movie for people who love movie-making. The camera moves with the moods of its subjects. This film from Hong Kong, a film in which a man talks to his dishtowel has an overdeveloped sense of fun.
Wong Kar-Wai’s movie tells two loosely interlinked stories, both about cops who get involved with girls who are wrong for them. In the first, Takeshi Kaneshiro tries to pick up Brigitte Lin in a late-night bar, unaware she’s a big-time heroin smuggler who’s spent the evening hunting down some drug couriers. In the second, Faye Wang gets a crush on Tony Leung and starts breaking into his apartment to redecorate it while he’s out. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised at the philosophical, comical tale of startled cops and curious on screen emoting.
Faye Wong [star of 2046 (review)] is the biggest pop-star in Asia and Chungking Express was her first film. She steals the show completely. As Quentin Tarantino remarks in the extras on the DVD, he doesn’t know anyone that didn’t develop a huge crush on her after watching this film. I can’t deny that statement. Despite the liveliness of Chungking Express’s first half, it’s this second story that catapults it into the company of Wong’s best films.
Chungking Express is a lot more lighthearted than you might expect, and even though the director touches topics like disappointed or unrequited love with a necessary meaningful approach to give the film something extraordinary, the film still somehow lacks a bit of a strong message. It’s easy to see why Quentin Tarentino jumped at the chance to release Chungking Express in the States. Both director’s share a love for multi-threaded, non-linear stories and the use of interesting music. However, there’s madness aplenty in this tantalizing film, but not nearly enough method in it. Chungking Express offers enough to relate to without letting the plot lines linger. Showing a person’s loneliness in the relationship aftermath lets us connect on a superficial level, without having to plunder the depths of that relationship pain. And this film is better for it.