June 22, 2017
Review #952: Chungking Express.
Brigitte Lin (Woman in blonde wig), Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Cop 663), Faye Wong (Faye), Takeshi Kaneshiro (He Qiwu, nicknamed Ah Wu, Cop 223), Valerie Chow (Air Hostess), Chan Kam-Chuen (Manager of 'Midnight Express'), Kwan Lee-na (Richard), and Wong Chi-Ming (Man) Directed by Wong Kar-wai.
This is the 26th world cinema movie on Movie Night, but it happens to be the first from Hong Kong (Enter the Dragon (#587) was a Hong Kong-American production), with five languages being spoken during the film: Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Japanese, and Hindi. The original title is Chung hing sam lam (Chungking Jungle), which refers to the "concrete jungle" of a city, with one of the locations of filming being at Chungking Mansions. In any case, this isn't a movie meant for casual watching that challenges a viewer, but it does not bore them to death with puzzlement (or pretentiousness), with this being aided by the performances. There are two stories told in the film (with their similarities and differences), and they are both quite entertaining in how they operate on their own currents, save for one brief interconnecting moment.
The movie has a commendable style of filming and editing (with cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Andrew Lau) that is strikingly captivating to watch - the chase scenes in particular sand out for how they contrast with the other parts of the film. The first part (with Lin and Kaneshiro) is entertaining and interesting (especially with the scenes involving trying to find a specific pineapple can) as a quirky thriller, with Lin and Kaneshiro's scenes being lightly tender but neat nonetheless; I found the second part (with Chiu-Wai and Wong) pretty captivating, utilizing the chemistry of the two actors and music quite handily as a type of screwball comedy. Kam-Chuen has an amusing but useful presence through both parts (such as when opening a letter meant for someone else). I found the second part had a bit more weight and meat to it, while the conclusion is ambiguously interesting, just like you'd expect. It's not a perfect movie, but it is definitely an intriguing and entertaining kind of movie that shows flair along with elements of a story for the audience to watch play out, succeeding handily. It may last just 98 minutes, but it definitely feels like it earns each minute it lasts on screen.
Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.