Chungking Express – “A hypnotic and dreamlike world that’s a pleasure to be within…”

Two stories are connected by a brief second. The first story follows off-duty cop, He Qiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) as he pines after his lost love May. He is desperate to move on and fall in love with another woman, and after a night of pineapple-eating, he meets the woman to adore (played by Brigitte Lin). Unfortunately for him, she is a drug-smuggler who is in hiding after killing off street gang-members after a drug-operation goes south. The second story portrays the romance between an unnamed cop (Tony Leung) and a snack bar worker, Faye (Faye Wong). Cop 663 has seen his steamy relationship with an air-hostess hit the skids, and takes comfort in the coffee and conversation with Faye – only for her to use a key his ex has left behind, to tidy and fool around in his flat. The first story, of a klutz falling for a dangerous, gun-toting dame, plays as an action-come comedy-come-romance while the second story is a twee love-story with friendly, quirky characters.

The connection between the stories is minimal. They both include lonely lovelorn policemen, while the women could not be more different. The use of uniform in the6cb04-chungkingexpress2 second story is constantly reinforced, whereby the profession of the characters in the first story is never specified by their outfits (in fact, the mysterious woman is almost in disguise as she claims her raincoat and sunglasses combo is due to her cautiousness about the weather, while his desire to imitate Bruce Willis hints at his inability to serve and protect).

The shuddering camera work captures the city effortlessly. We squint and look closer to make out who is on screen and how the events unfold, similar to the experience of trying to take in a busy street at night. Neon-lights and crampt spaces are a feature of Wong Kar Wai, as bodies struggle to move around each other. Strange obsessions and recurring pop-tracks add nuance to characters and almost create a hypnotic and dreamlike world that is a pleasure to be within. Sardines, pineapples and the Mama’s and Papa’s California Dreamin’ become unique, memorable assets to a film that in the characters alone, you are drawn in.

This post was originally written for Flickering Myth in September 2014

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