Film review: Chungking Express (1994)


Some people call this Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece. Having seen quite a few of his films, I think this is probably my favourite directed by him. The script and characters are interesting here, I think.

Apparently, this film was originally in three parts, and the third part was put into Wong Kar Wai’s film Fallen angels (1995) instead.

Som have criticized ‘Chungking Express’ for being essentially two films in one. The two stories are similar, and I agree with other reviewers it might have been more interesting, if there was some connection. Maybe there is, who knows.

I liked the second half of the film better, as you really get to know the man and woman on an intimate and emotional level, and really care about them.


Wong Kar Wai’s films are quite similar and this is another about people with broken hearts and having trouble moving on. Some bar scenes, violence, product placement and train stations have been thrown in like in some of his other movies. Some people call this his unique style, others think it’s a little tiresome to see the same story rehashed over and over. I think his style is unique, as his films have a new angle on these themes.

I liked the cover song of The Cranberries ‘Dreams’ sung in Cantonese. California dreamin’ is also a perfect choice, and will probably forever be associated with this film. I thought the music score at the beginning is quite similar to music in director Darren Aronofsky’s movies such as ‘Requiem for a dream’ or ‘The Fountain’.

It just goes to show that you don’t need to have a huge budget to make a good film with likable people.

A very memorable film, mostly due to characters and music. I agree with another reviewer, who says the characters all have a charm and individuality about them.

Not sure that the title is very accurate, though. The Hong Kong title is Chung Hing sam lam. It’s one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite films, watch him in this video talk about his love for the film.

IMDB

Rottentomatoes

YouTube

9 thoughts on “Film review: Chungking Express (1994)

  1. Not my favorite even of Wong Kar-Wai's films, but it does have one of the most explicit references to the death of Hong Kong with the guy obsessed with expiration dates, like 1997 for Hong Kong. You can find the death of Hong Kong in just about every film he made only it's 2046 now.

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  2. @Blake:
    Yes, 'Chungking Express' is a great place to start. And like I said in my review, the logical film to watch afterwards is 'Fallen angels' (1995).
    If you like his style, I'd also go to 'In the mood for love' and '2046'(my 2nd fav film by Wong Kar-Wai)

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  3. Did you know that Wong Kar Wai made '2046' to match the room number seen on the door of 'In The Mood For Love' as a hommage to Krzysztof Kieslowski and his use of identical room numbers for his film 'The Double Life Of Veronique'?

    If you do pass by, please add yourself and your website details to my Guestbook.

    Bonne soiree!

    Alexandre FABBRI
    KIESLOWSKI'S WORLD

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  4. @Alexandre FABBRI and @Jump_Raven : I used to know what Wong Kar Wai's numbers meant. I was going to refresh my memory for my 2046 review later, but you beat me to it!

    Alexandre FABBRI, I'll check your site, it sounds interesting. I really like Kieslowski! Thanks for your interesting comment, hope you keep visiting and commenting in future ( :

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