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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘Chungking Express’: An Effervescent Depiction of Heartbreak and Longing from Hong Kong


Movie poster for the Hong Kong film Chungking Express starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Brigitte Lin Chin-Hsia

“Chungking Express” ("Chung Hing Sam Lam") is a vivacious and boldly engaging film from 1994 that entails two separate tales, each depicting the amorous exploits of lovelorn policemen in Hong Kong. Both stories detail the officers’ eagerness and passion for separate young women, with surprising and unexpected turns in fate befalling them both.


As the first story unfolds, we follow He Zhiwu AKA “Cop 223” (Takeshi Kaneshiro) as he mourns the end of his relationship with his girlfriend. Each day purchasing a tin of pineapples dated to expire on May 1, he whiles the days away having decided to finally move on from her once the month of April has passed. Simultaneously, a mysterious woman in a blonde wig (Brigitte Lin Chin-Hsia) survives a botched underworld drug deal, ultimately setting the two of them on an improbable collision course.


With the second story, we come into acquaintance with “Cop 663” (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung), another policeman agonizing over an abrupt separation, who has become a regular at a local Hong Kong snack bar. Smitten with the handsome lawman, young snack bar employee Faye (Faye Wong) gains access to his home and proceeds to inject herself into his world—arousing passions and entirely unforeseen complexities.


Written and directed by Chinese filmmaker Wong Kar-wai (“In the Mood for Love”, “The Grandmaster”), “Chungking Express” is a wonderfully alive, fully-realized tale of dispossession, enchantment and unexpected harmony. Visually enticing and imbued with panache and enthusiasm, it’s a boldly romantic adventure from the highly esteemed Wong—and one of the finest instances of Asian cinema from the entire decade.

 

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