(Chong qing sen lin)

Directed by Wong Kar-Wai. Hong Kong. 1994.

Talking Pictures alias







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"If memories could be canned, would they have an expiration date?" - Cop 223

Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express is a breathless tour de force that will leave you feeling exhilarated. Shot in the Kwaloon section of Hong Kong with a hand-held camera using impressionistic images, jump cuts, and stop-action camerawork, Wong vividly captures the kinetic energy of the city - its people, music, fast food cafes, and nightlife. Chungking Express is a quirky romantic comedy about chance encounters, lost opportunities, and the loneliness of city life where people never seem to communicate with each other directly. The film consists of two loosely connected stories involving different cops who have just broken up with their girlfriends. In the first sequence, most of the action takes place at a fast food stand called Chungking Express and little police-related activity is shown except for some choreographed shootouts. 

He Zhiwu, Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) tells himself at the beginning of April that he will wait thirty days for his girlfriend May to come back to him before seeking another relationship. In mourning, he eats only from cans that have an expiration date of May 1st, his birthday. On May 1st, he eats thirty cans of pineapple (her favourite food) and jogs so "there will be no water left for tears" but it doesn't bring May back. His only connection is with a sturdy blonde played by veteran actress Brigitte Lin wearing a platinum blond wig. Unknown to him, she is a heroin smuggler on the run after a failed drug deal. They meet and go to his apartment but she simply passes out and he decides to move on. In the second episode, another lovelorn cop known only as Cop 633 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) is in love with a stewardess and buys her a Chefs Salad from the same food stand every day. 

When she dumps him after he brings her fish and chips, he becomes interested in Faye (Faye Wong), an endearingly goofy counter girl who works for her cousin at the same snack bar. Faye develops a crush on him and sneaks into his apartment when he's not there, rearranging his furniture, removing traces of his old girlfriend, decorating and cleaning while dancing around the house to the music of the Mamas and the Papas. Their relationship has a playful quality to it though they both maintain their distance. After she reappears after having been away for one year, she asks him where he wants to go and he replies "Wherever you want to take me". Chungking Express will take you wherever you want to go and it is a giddy ride -- full of style, substance, and self-reflective humor. In the hands of Wong Kar-Wai, alienation never seemed as much fun.


Howard Schumann
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