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Movie Reviews

Chungking Express



Director: Kar Wai Wong

Stars: Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro

Certificate: 12

Released: 15th September 1995

Reviewer: William McAbee

There are very few directors like Wong Kar-wai whose style really takes over their story telling. While his story telling is not bad (its great actually) his direction, music, editing, and slow motion combine to create a unique out look on the world and the creation of his story. His films are visual and emotional-invoking and loved by critics from In The Mood For Love and Happy Together. The best directors are those who dare to do what no one else is doing, its

The film was made back in 1994 in Hong Kong and follows two stories that are connected by one restaurant. In the first story we follow a cop who is obsessed with the girl he has just been dumped by. As the story continues he looks for love at a bar at meets a woman in a blonde wig, she is a drug smuggler trying to get revenge for being set up. The second story follows another cop who is also dealing with a break up who meets Faye who works ar a restaurant. Faye becomes obsessed with the cop, breaking into his apartment even, as she tries to get his love in return. 

The first film is the most unique as it brings two vastly different people together that you never would expect. It is a little bit of revenge tale combined with a hopeless romantic looking for love. What makes the first story so much fun in my opinion is the hotel scene and the different styles, like blurred slow motion and excellent framing. The reason I like the hotel scene is when our protagonist watches an old movie, which to me is a director’s nod to a favorite film. The second story becomes so interesting as a character study as we follow a man following heartbreak and a young woman who is desperately in love with him. The second part of this film is where Wong Kar-wai shines, dominating the camera. He is able to focus on themes of desperation and loneliness in the crazy jungle that is Hong Kong. There are some powerful imagery in the film that reflects this, my favorite being the policeman talking to a teddy bear. 

He use of music is quite powerful too by using “California Dreamin’” and “What A Difference A Day Makes”. Especially “What A Difference”, the powerful imagery and reflection upon past and lost love is heart breaking. This is part of what makes Wong Kar-wai such a brilliant director. His camera work is very unique and he is an incredible combination of slow, long, emotional takes and experimental, unique shots. He focuses on reflections, isolations, memories, and many more which makes his Express so infatuating.  When you are watching it you can tell this is a film that comes from passion and care for the story and style. 

In my opinion the second story was vastly superior to the first story as I love the characters more and I believe the themes Kar-wai was explored are performed better here. The blond wigged woman feels a little out of place to the rest of the story but it doesn’t hurt the rest of the film. 

Kar-wai has made himself into the new Goddard and while the plot is scattered it is still recognizable and explores some of the deepest themes in cinema history. It is a film that takes patience and an open mind, this is not your typical movie. Amazing direction, great music and story, and most of all great characters make Chungking Express an instant classic. A film for film lovers everywhere.


Hello! I am William McAbee. I do my fair share of reviews from time to time and I tweet like there is no tomorrow! I work currently as a video editor and producer.

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