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Chungking Express

Hong Kong 1994
produced by
Chan Yi-Kan, Chan Pui-wah (executive) for Jet Tone Films
directed by Wong Kar Wai
starring Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Valerie Chow, Chen Jinquan, Kwan Lee-na, Huang Zhiming, Liang Zhen, Zuo Songshen, Lynne Langdon
written by Wong Kar Wai, music by Frankie Chan, Michael Galasso, Roel A.García, cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Lau Wai-keung

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Flix.com

The fates of four people, only loosely held together by a diner in Chungking called the Midnight Express (owner played by Chen Jinquan). There is Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who can't get over his ex-girlfriend May, so much so that he has all sorts of rituals to remember her, like only eating cans of apricots expiring on the first of May (not always easy to find) and such. Eventually, he meets the woman in a blonde wig (Brigitte Lin), who he meets in a bar where she's getting drunk. Ultimately she takes him home, but there she just passes out, while he, fed up with apricots, apparently, empties her fridge.

The woman in the blonde wig though is actually a gangsetr bringing illegal aliens from India to Hong Kong. But when she loses three of her immigrants - who eventually find work in the Midnight Express - she finds herself on the run from the syndicate, so much so, that after a few shootouts with her old partners, she tosses away her wig, and with the wig, she loses her identity.

Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) is in love with an air hostess (Valerie Chow), but she leaves him because of a bad advice the Midnight Express's manager has given him. She leaves a letter with the manager though, but because of the diner's nosey personnel, it takes forever for 663 to get the letter.

Faye (Faye Wong) has fallen in love with 663, , but somehow she's unable to tell him. But she gets her hands on the air hostess's letter before he does, finds a key to his appartment inside, and starts to secretly take care of his household when he's out. When one day though, he catches her entering his appartment, the whole relationship loses his magic ...

Months later: Cop 663 has quit his job with the force and - of all things - taken over the Midnight Express - when his air hostess finally does return.

 


Flix.com

Not a big film - like Wong Kar Wai's 2046 from 10 years later - but an enjoyable unspectacular look at Hong Kong's little people and their whims and quirks, and though the film's three to four stories might not have too much weight individually, they work in the greater context of the film, all being about the central subject of unrequitted love. Add to this a homogenous and involving visual style - made up of mostly night shots, neon light, primary colours and the frequent use of smudge motion - and you are left with a fascinating piece of cinema, and a filmof a quality Wong Kar Wai only rarely managed to match later on.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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