Chungking Express

Takeshi Kaneshiro

Tony Leung

starstarstar

Ah for the days when films don’t open with foggy slow-motion depicted with choppy editing or have whiny cops complaining about their ex-girlfriends. But, this film wouldn’t be the same without these elements. It takes place in Hong Kong and its characters speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, English, and even Hindi. Enter a femme-fatale complete with trenchcoat, sunglasses, and blond wig out of a noir pic who is on the lookout for Indian gentlemen with which she hopes to smuggle drugs. She never takes off the wig or sunglasses. The cop, in whining for his ex is collecting cans of pineapples which expire on May 1st, his birthday. Intriguing, if a bit strange. Foreigners in Hong Kong sure don’t come off well in this film. They are depicted as criminal, bufoonish, oversexed, untrustworthy minions whose murders aren’t even commented on.

This tale branches into another of which the nexus is the kebab shop owned by a cheerful bespectacled man, who offers his friendly advice to yet another love stricken cop about what lunches to get his girlfriend, who is a flight attendant. This doesn’t keep him from invading the officer’s privacy when the girlfriend brings what obviously must be a breakup letter. The friendly shop owner steams open the envelope and all in the shop read it, even the cute new hired help who has a penchant for listening to “California Dreaming” at max volume making taking orders impossible. She’s got the hots for Cop #2 and is quite obvious and cute about it. Unfortunately, the ex-girlfriend left the spare key to his apartment in the breakup letter. This leads to a fun plot which I will leave you to anticipate and enjoy.

Chungking Express is a light and fun film whose second half far outshines its first. Its hilarious to see the zany antics of both women who wear shades and the hapless police officers who meet them.

I found it entertaining if not almost immediately forgettable. Even the bittersweet parts have a lightness about them. I imagine it would make a great one time date movie save for some of the violent scenes in the first half. It may make a decent life-after-a-breakup movie although I’ve found those exacerbate the situation better than help it. Watch it at your own pleasure.

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