y˪L (1994)
Chungking Express

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/20/2012
Summary: Perfect mix of pop and art

Wong Kar-Wai has a general disdain for plot that I find quite admirable. His films are all about characters. Chungking Express features a few main characters. Takeshi Kaneshiro can't get over losing his girlfriend so he buys pineapples. Brigitte Lin's drug deal goes sour so she is on the run. Leung Chiu-Wai can't deal with change, and also can't get over his girlfriend. Faye Wong... well, Faye Wong in Chungking Express just has to be seen

Chungking Express was made during a break from post-production on Ashes Of Time, as Wong Kar-Wai needed to distance himself from that troublesome project for a while to get his bearings and recharge his batteries. The result is the antithesis of the dark, brooding epic... a light, fluffy and upbeat little film that is like a little ode to Hong Kong's streets and people. It shares themes of loneliness and the difficulty of sharing the planet with other people, but seems a little more optimistic that the task isn't always doomed to futility.

Chungking Express definitely feels like pop-cinema, but has more than enough artistic ambition in it too... a very different kind of art film from the slow & ponderous films that most people think of when the term is mentioned. It's full of life and energy, and undoubtedly one of the "coolest" films of the 90's.

Much of the film's energy and style come from the visuals, where Wong Kar-Wai and Christopher Doyle seem determined to make every shot unique and beautiful. Some of the camera positions and movements are nothing short of genius. The camerawork is well complicated by innovative editing and an eclectic soundtrack. The film undoubtedly owes a lot to the more experimental film-making techniques that are usually found in music videos - or perhaps the film's style has just been a massive influence on half the music videos produced since (my chronology isn't too sharp when it comes to music videos I'm afraid). Whatever it's influences, the look of the film is totally unlike anything else from Hong Kong before it.

Of all Wong Kar-Wai's films, CHUNGKING EXPRESS is probably the most readily accessable and the most commercial. Despite it's innovative and eliptical story-telling and its philosophical leanings, the film is so infectiously energetic that it's hard to imagine any audience not enjoying it. A lot of the credit for this has to go to Faye Wong, who just shines as the bouncy little imp in the second half of the film. I defy anyone not to fall in love with her after watching it.

Chungking Express is surely one of the most imaginative, unique and influential films of the 1990's, and one of the most enjoyable. Its effect on the Hong Kong industry was palpable, and in some ways quite negative I think. Suddenly everybody had to worry about whether their films were *artistically* accomplished, as well as whether they were commercially attractive or not. I think this was a problem for a lot of HK film makers, who were left quite lost and unsure of themselves. Yes, I don't think the handover or the economy are the real reasons for the decline of Hong Kong Cinema since the late 90's... it's all Wong Kar-Wai's fault! Poor Tsui Hark has never been the same since Chungking & Ashes Of Time hit the theatres anyway.

So, in conclusion, just in case there's anyone out there that hasn't seen Chungking Express yet.... shame on you! Go buy it right now!

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 01/30/2011
Summary: chungking mansions and midnight express...

two cops, he qiwu (takeshi kaneshiro) and badge 633 (tony leung), are reeling from the breakdown of their relationships; they also both frequent the 'midnight express' kebab shop and chat with the owner (piggy chan) about their lovelorn lives. qiwu dwells on his loss, buying a tin of pineapple slices each day. all with the expiry date of may 1st 1994. the day when he will have been apart from may (his ex) for one month. when april 30th arrives, he decides he will fall in love with the next woman he sees; this happens to be a chain-smoking woman in a blonde wig, sunglasses and raincoat (brigitte lin). for her, may 1st has a different meaning - it is a deadline for her to complete a drug smuggling operation, which seems to be spiralling out of her control.

badge 633 is cut up about being dumped by the air stewardess (valerie chow) and, when not on patrol, he spends his life moping around his apartment, berating household objects for not dealing well with the split. meanwhile, faye (faye wong), the cousin of the kebab shop owner, who has started working there whilst she saves up money to go travelling, takes an interest in 633. still, he seems too distracted by his own loss to notice, so she decides to start sneaking in to his apartment and playing around with it.

i'm a little shocked to think that it's well over a decade since i last watched this all the way through. it's a great little film and one which shows everyone involved at their best. the cast are great; brigitte lin is glacial, takeshi kaneshiro is like some kind of man-puppy, tony leung exudes some kind of effortless charisma and faye wong is just adorable.

for wong kar-wai and christopher doyle; a somewhat cathartic exercise in film-making, have gone through a protracted shoot and editing (this was actually filmed entirely during a two month break in the editing process) for 'ashes of time'. so, instead of something epic, ancient and filled with fantasy, they went for something, short, modern and daydream-like. wong wrote the script, expanding on a trio of ideas for the film - only two were used here and the third became 'fallen angels' - and it was shot within twenty-three days in tsi sha tsui and central.

any how, a really good fun film to watch, especially as i get to laugh at my brother walking down lan kwai fong (the street the kebab shop is on) as he mooches past tony leung and has a stare at what he said was an unusually relaxed looking cop...

great stuff...

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 02/20/2009
Summary: Fantastic!

I have to admit a particular fondness for Wong Kar-Wai's CHUNGKING EXPRESS – it’s one of my absolute favourites.

The film concerns two lovelorn policemen who frequent the Midnight Express fast food shop in separate stories and how they cope with their situation. The first involves He Qiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who has split from his girlfriend May and meets up with and “falls in love” with a double-crossed drug trafficker in a blond wig and sunglasses (a completely unrecognisable Brigitte Lin), while the second concerns Police Officer 663 (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and his break-up with his flight attendant girlfriend. He’s so cut up about his loss that he doesn’t even notice when Faye (Faye Wong), a worker at the Midnight Express who develops a serious crush on him starts doing a makeover on his flat.

CHUNGKING EXPRESS was made out of a direct reaction to Wong Kar-Wai’s previous film ASHES OF TIME, which was so arduous to make and so time-consuming that he wanted to make a more spontaneous “quickie” piece. Telling cinematographer Christopher Doyle that he was “too slow” in setting up shots, Wong wanted this film to look more “like CNN” and the result is a much grittier, more realistic feel that suits the urban setting perfectly.

There are a number of things that make CHUNGKING EXPRESS great, but foremost among them is the central characters (with the possible exception of Brigitte Lin, whose character is deliberately laconic and virtually expressionless). Firstly, we have He Qiwu who develops an unhealthy fascination with pineapples and has worse chat-up lines than I do. His misguided notion of falling in love with the first woman he sees in a bar turns out rather well given the circumstances when he runs into a female drug runner. And then there’s 663, a cop who is so much in denial about his heartbreak he seems to believe instead that the inanimate objects in his flat are unhappy, and proceeds to attempt to cheer them up. But it’s the pixie-like Faye that wins the show. She is seen eyeing up 663 in a series of shots and eventually hatches a plan to visit his flat while he’s not there. While there, she changes his toiletries, waters his plants, changes his fish and buys him new stuffed toys – all of which goes over 663’s oblivious head. Faye Wong plays the part of the smitten but kooky Faye to understated perfection, from her “measuring up” of 663’s ex-girlfriend to the delights of finding one of his hairs in his unmade bed. In the cold light of day she is a devious, manipulative cow who shows probably every sign of being a psychotic stalker, even going as far as to drug 663’s water, but it’s impossible not to get swept up in her childlike joy and genuine good nature.

As with most Wong Kar-Wai films, the soundtrack is as important as any other aspect, and CHUNGKING EXPRESS has some great tunes. The one that everyone always remembers is The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’”, but also worth mentioning are Dennis Brown’s “Things in Life” all through the first story, Dinah Washington’s “What a Difference a Day Made” in the steamy scene with 663’s soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend and Faye Wong’s Cantonese language version of the Cranberries’ “Dreams”.

I’ve said it a million times, but it bears repeating: if you are any kind of fan of cinema and you haven’t seen CHUNGKING EXPRESS, you really should make it a priority; and if you’re a fan of Hong Kong cinema and haven’t seen it, then there’s really no excuse. It’s a joy to watch (and rewatch) and although it was meant to be a lesser film in Wong’s oeuvre, I’d choose this in preference to one of his more serious films any day.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: pat00139
Date: 03/04/2007
Summary: Great movie

This movie starts what I like to call director Wong Kar-Wai’s prolific period. In two years he released three movies. That’s not really fair, though because ‘Ashes of Time’ took forever to make and just happened to be released at the month after ‘Chunking Express’. ‘Fallen Angels’ was released the year after and is a kind of after-thought to ‘Chunking Express’. In any case, this movie is considered by a lot of people to be Wong Kar-Wai’s best movie. Maybe that’s because it’s his cheeriest movie to date. Now, that might sound impressive but if you’ve seen his other movies, ‘cheeriest’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘nice little package’. The movie is basically divided in two parts, both talking about love. The first part has Takeshi Kaneshiro eating pinapples and the second has Tony Leung talking to his stuffed toys.

The movie seems to have this very spontaneous flavour that isn’t present in Mr. Wong’s other movies. The handheld cameras movements and the way the actors handle themselves seem to be very unrehearsed. This movie also won, at the Hong Kong Film Awards, best picture and best director over ‘Ashes of Time’, which Mr. Wong spent about 3 years doing. Now, when you know how much of a perfectionist and how much control Mr. Wong likes to have over his movies, and that this one is considered by many to be his best, and it looks and feels different from his other movies, what does that mean? I’m not really sure, but all I know is that the movie is very intelligent. You have the requisite Wong Kar-Wai symbolism and themes.

One theme that isn’t really explored much in his movies, or at all, actually, other than in this one is that people seem to be like food, whether it be pinapples or chef’s salad. Food is very prominent in the movie. Takeshi Kaneshiro doesn’t stop eating or drinking for his entire segment and Faye Wong works in a corner take-out shop. Other things that can be interesting is that Mr. Kaneshiro runs so that he sweats so that he doesn’t have water to cry. Maybe another very subtle hint of something to that effect is that Tony Leung’s cop character always drinks black coffee, which is a diuretic. In any case, many of Mr. Wong’s movies have very hot and muggy atmospheres, so this movie just might be a more overt mentioning of something he’s explored before and since.

You also have many people dreaming; indeed, the two most prominent songs in the movie are The Mamas and the Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’’ and The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’ (as sung by Faye Wong). The music is definitely an extention of the characters more than any other movie Mr. Wong has done. It’s more obvious, in any case. Like Jacky Cheung in ‘As Tears Go By’ and Maggie Cheung in ‘Days of Being Wild’, the main characters here have their own dreams. In here, everybody has their own problem and dreams of fixing that problem. Mr. Kaneshiro wants love, for example. Simple enough.

The problem with that is that nobody seems to want to listen to anybody else, as well. Brigitte Lin is always wearing the sunglasses (‘I don’t want to talk’). People are in their own little world. To me, the most striking time this is shown occurs when Tony Leung is telling the story of the flight attendant and in the flashback he’s playing with the little plane. Another, more evident time happens pretty much whenever you see Faye Wong on screen. She’s always wrapped up in ‘California Dreamin’’. Particularly when she’s cleaning Mr. Leung’s apartment, she’s in her own little world (and she also plays with the little plane!). This brings up another point – Faye Wong is good for Tony Leung, but he doesn’t notice it. So even though the movie doesn’t seem to be too planned out, it certainly has its share of thought behind it.

One last thing is the movie is far funnier than any other Mr. Wong movie. This can almost pass as a comedy, especially Mr. Kaneshiro’s bits. (‘It’s people like you who are hung up on freshness.’) When he’s calling people trying to get dates, you get one of the best jokes. Which reminds me, if you’re familiar with this movie and ‘Ashes of Time’ (and the two ‘A Chinese Odyssey’ movies directed by Jeff Lau and starring Stephen Chow), check out ‘A Chinese Odyssey 2002’.

Mr. Wong doesn’t seem to like to do things normally. He always has his own ideas about how to do things. That makes his movies very interesting. All his movies are great, and this one is no exception. It may have a lighter tone than the rest of his movies, but the interior monologues of the characters ask some pretty serious questions. Some of the analogies can get a bit comical, but it doesn’t take away from their meaning. I also have to say that this movie contains one of my favorite shots ever. It’s simple, but I love it. I can safely say, then, that this is a great movie all around.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/24/2007

A delectably vibrant urban art film "Chungking Express" is rich in ambience and light on pretension. The actors aren't merely pretty -- they're sexy -- though the constant spinning of The Mamas and The Pappas's "California Dreamin'" proves distracting enough that it keeps Wong Kar-wai's best film from achieving overall excellence.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/17/2005
Summary: Extraordinary story telling

The two stories are united by theme and setting. Both stories illustrate how difficult it is for people to form real relationships in an increasingly anomic universe and how one's memory of the past can sabotage his ability to function in the present. Much of the action takes place in Chungking Mansions, at lunchcounter that gives its name to the movie.

Brigette Lin is essentially unrecognizable in a blonde wig, sunglassses and long trench coat and still gives an electrfying performance. It might be daring, transgressive or just showing off to have her as the star of a movie and not show her eyes but her character in the first story is very powerful. She is in charge a group of Indian drug smugglers posing as tourists in Honk Kong. They decide to take the drugs and run. She has to make a number of decisions to protect herself, which she does ruthlessly and without hesitation. She is the femme fatale of film noir writ large.

If the first story is updated film nor, the second is evergreen romance. The lunch counter owner and staff are foils to both represent the audience--both they and we are watching the relationship develop between Badge 223 and the waitress Faye. And we in the audience join Faye's co-workers in hoping that these two people can somehow connect. The wacky way that Faye relates to the cop--be breaking into his apartment and re-arranging his belongings is inventive and very effective in showing how much she wants to be with Badge 223 but how diffucult it is for her to express that longing.

Christopher Doyle is a genius. He can light a scene as well as any DP working anywhere. The camera work is a tour de force of effects at the service of narrative and character. In the first story a hand-held camera follows The Woman in the Blonde Wig as she pursues the escaping drug mules through the warrens of HK, giving it a very real and immediate feel as well as a dangerous edge. There are a lot of low angle shots of Lin's character which give her a menacing and domineering air.

In the second story the principals often move in slow motion while the anonymous crowds around them rush past. Between them Wong Kar-Wai and Doyle have created a series of postcards of Hong Kong a few years before the handover.

As close to a "must see" movie as has been made in the past 15 years.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: tommyman
Date: 01/27/2005
Summary: One of the best Hong Kong movies ever!

This movie is, without a doubt, a masterpiece. Wong Ka Wai once again shows us how a movie can be made without restriction.

In this movie, two unrelated stories are told with no real connection to each other. It seems undirectianal at first and at the end of the movie it's still undirectional. I felt so touching after watching this movie with no reason. It's like a whole new experience. I never get tired watching it again and again. An unconventional movie like this is a must-see for all your movie lovers out there. Don't miss it.

9.5 out of 10 Wholeheartedly recommended

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 10/24/2004
Summary: Delicious

This all-time arthouse masterpiece of film-making has two disconnected and unforgettable stories that are tied through common themes. Somehow, the flashy hand-held shots, smooth music, and lovable acting blend in superbly, and the result is simply breathtaking.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/19/2003

Despite on how much has been written about this movie, the basic plot is pretty simple. It's the story of two cops dealing with love and realtionships in the fast-paced world of Hong Kong. The first part concentrates on Takeshi Kaneshiro as he pines for the girlfriend who dumped him. Every night, he goes through a series of strange rituals hoping to get her back. When they seem to fail, he goes on a series of binges, first eating all the pineapple he can pick up and then heading to a local watering hole where he gets well and truly soused, after which he meets up with a mysterious smuggler played by Brigitte Lin (in her last film role and nearly unrecognizable in a blonde wig and big sunglasses). The second story focuses on Tony Leung, who also has gone through a break-up, as he develops a strange relationship with a girl who works at a local cafe (Faye Wong).

At first, I really did not know what to think about this movie. Like most of Wong Kar-Wai's works, it's at times obtuse and almost overly self-indulgent. However, there are so many scenes in Chungking Express which stick in your mind -- almost like fleeting images from a dream -- that by the end of the movie, or especially after repeated viewings, that it tends to grow on you, like the guy at the bar who you think is obnoxious at first but turns out to be a pretty good chap in the end. I will grant that there are some parts of the movie which seem totally silly and absurd. For instance, Faye has a habit of breaking into Tony's apartment and rearranging his furniture -- and Tony never seems to realize this. There are also parts which seem to translate into movie-making mastrubation, such as the seemingly infinite repeating renditions of "California Dreaming." The song is Faye's favorite and it plays almost every time she is onscreen at very high volume. I'm aware of what a musical motif is, but at times the repitition get ridiculous.

But, as I said before, there are a lot of scenes in Chungking Express which hold your attention and make the story more credible as a whole. Perhaps not coincidentally, these scenes are often those which feature the least gimmicks to them, the ones where the actors can simply work. The scenes where Takeshi tries to pick up Brigitte by asking her if she likes pineapple in five different languages, Tony berating his dishrag for not having enough absorbency, or especially the small scenes of Tony and Faye meeting up in a local market and awkwardly flirting, are both funny and powerful in a quiet way. It is in these scenes that Chungking Express transcends typical romantic movie territory becuase the characters become something more than cookie-cutter caricatures as present in most other movies of the type. Even though their actions seem "unreal/unbelivable" (in terms of the romantic movie canon) at first, the more we learn and see about them, the more you feel connected to them -- and more importantly, the more you care about where the movie will lead to.

If you've read some of my reviews here, you can probably guess that I'm normally not a big fan of either romantic or "art-house" movies. But I feel that Chungking Express is so well-done that it warrants a viewing from anyone who considers themselves a serious movie fan. If you want to expand your Hong Kong movie horizons to something other than cops and robbers or kung fu, this is an excellent place to start.

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 08/08/2002
Summary: One for the Ages

In today's world flooded by so many bad or mediocre Hong Kong comedies, it's good to know that I can pull out my DVD copy of "Chungking Express." "Chungking Express" is a film that, at least in my case, leaves me with a good feeling after every viewing. I've seen the film many times, from an old VHS copy to my current DVD version. I can't say that for too many films.

Having reached a roadblock while working on "Ashes of Time," Wong took a hiatus from "Ashes…" to make "Chungking Express." He slapped it together quickly, and the spontaneity shows. The trademark Wong Kar Wai elements are there as well, from love and isolation to relationships and alienation. The pairing of Brigitte Lin and Takeshi Kaneshiro, followed by Faye Wong and Tony Leung, is delicious. It took me a couple of viewings before I started to notice how intertwined the two stories are, and how the lives of Lin and Kaneshiro overlap that of Wong and Leung.

I wholeheartedly recommend "Chungking Express" for its quirky storytelling that is embodied by each and every member of the cast. I can see how some may find Faye Wong to be annoying, but I found Faye Wong to be the surprise performance of the film. Valerie Chow looked quite stunning as Tony's stewardess/girlfriend, while Brigitte's blond-wigged role has been parodied so many times in Hong Kong cinema that it has become very iconic. While the performances were uniformly well done, the music enhanced much of what Wong did to fill the screen, from Dennis Brown to the Mommas and the Pappas to Faye's own unique take on the Cranberries. "Chungking Express" is Wong Kar Wai's film for the ages. It has a timelessness that you can't put your finger on, but it's there nonetheless. As much as I have enjoyed other Wong Kar Wai movies, I always seem to come back to "Chungking Express." It's an uplifting film like no other.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/24/2002
Summary: Ups and downs.

Chungking Express is full of amazing images and patches of class. At other times it has tacky, geeky elements. The whole movie is a mixed bag, and I would recommend checking out other Wong Kar-Wai films before deciding if you are a fan. Worth a watch, maybe more than one, but Faye Wong was just too annoying for me.

Reviewed by: ksbutterbox
Date: 11/20/2001
Summary: Excellent!

For those that get bored with this movie..take heed,..you're too jaded to care or you've never really been in love. This movie was an epiphany to watch HK movies! At least it was better than "I Have to Avenge my Father's Death"(Crap!}...Now I love wuxia and heroic bloodshed too..but Chungking Express makes you feel & THINK! Great HK Movie. Surface idiots go away..you can't handle a deep movie and you have the attention span of a cricket!

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Pretty good

This movie has 2 stories in it, and the first didn't engage me at all!1 I felt bored watching it!! But the 2nd story is excellent!! I really liked the characters as well as the mood of the film. I was very suprised how much i liked it!! It's a movie which couples should go see!! The ending is one of the best i have seen, leaving a question mark of what may or should of happened between the main characters!!

I would give this movie more but the 1st story didn't interest me!!


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 03/12/2001
Summary: The most over-rated movie in HK history

.. though not necessarily the worst film ever made in HK. I've heard from many people who wax lyrical and rave on about what a wonderful and transcendant experience this film is for them. Unfortunately, few if any of WKW's fans seem able to imagine, much less admit, that his films are not for everyone.

There is one key word which describes this film to its core - irritating.

WKW's style contains several elements guaranteed to send some movie fans screaming in agony or gasping in disbelief. I happen to be one of these people. Chief among these annoying features (which his fans refer to in more flattering terms) is hyper-repetition of songs and tunes. In the first half, a really dull reggae tune is played about three times (when once is too often). But in the second half, The Mommas And The Papas "California Dreamin'" is played at least seven times, usually at top volume. Godsakes, whether you liked the song or not beforehand, you'd be thoroughly sick of it by the end. Just think, some people claim to have seen this film four or five times. This means they've listened to California Dreamin either 28 or 35 times.....

First warning - if this sort of thing annoys you as much as it does me, you're very unlikely to join the ranks of that noisy and passionate minority who adore WKW.

All of this needless hyper-repetition (it contributes nothing to the story) could possibly be excused if the remainder of the film had any lingering merit, or if the story was in any way involving.

But it ain't.

The only aspect I found likeable was Brigitte Lin's charging around and still playing Asia The Invincible in a raincoat and sunnies. Even this wore off fairly quickly.

I'm sure this film's undeserved high reputation will convince many poor suckers to go and see it. I can only warn you - if you've never seen a HK movie before, don't start with this one. And if you feel compelled to watch it, avoid at all costs seeing it in a cinema. The fast-forward and mute buttons are essential tools for survival here.

You may well be one for whom this film is a transcedent experience. An inordinate nnumber of people seem to find this film does things to their mind such as this. But for the rest of us, even the aid of mind-altering substances wouldn't make this annoying and over-hyped piece of trash interesting.

You have been warned !

For a far better example of what WKW does well, watch ASHES OF TIME. It is stunningly photographed, has truly beautiful music (which, for once, is not hyper-repeated) and is even acted quite well by an excellent cast. The story is pretty convoluted, but has some interesting resonances. After surviving ChungKing Express, watching AOT offers proof that WKW does, after all, have some talent.

Previously published review:
If this film had been released without fanfare, I'd have been unsure of whether to describe it as uneventful and dull, or arty and pretentious, or plotless and infuriating. But, in the face of near-unanimous critical acclaim, I must loudly protest ! This is possibly the most over-rated film EVER in HK history. It has nothing to recommend it, and much to condemn. Heading the list is the director's brutal misuse of "background" music (often foregrounded), most notably the unforgivable and unjustified hyper-repetition of "California Dreamin'" (eight times). Whether you love or hate this song, any true music lover should be prepared to strangle director Wong at the end for this alone. The actors show little interest in injecting any life into their pallid characters, with the exception of Brigette Lin, who continues to play Asia The Invincible. The script looks as if it were made up as they went along, and has no sense of continuity or plot. Not that this is unusual in HK cinema but, here, it works against the grain. Most disappointing of all, this film contains not one element of anything I like about HK cinema. Aside from the Chinese faces, it could be any dull arty film made anywhere. So, I hear you ask, is there nothing you liked
? Well, some minor things. Brigette Lin's stop/slow motion chase scene was pleasant to watch, and has been endlessly homaged since (e.g. in Young & Dangerous). But why critics have called this an original device is beyond me. Is their knowledge of classic Hollywood style so poor? Ultimately, if you're inclined to believe those who use words like "landmark" "innovative" "classic", all I can say is, hire the video (do NOT see it in a cinema unless you are very brave) and see for yourself ..... that thousands of critics speaking with one voice CAN be very much mistaken. You have been abundantly warned.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: toto63
Date: 07/17/2000
Summary: nicest

tender and funny and so well directed!

Reviewed by: sharon
Date: 04/28/2000
Summary: Art or trash?

It's not easy to watch this movie with an closed mind. Let me tell you, that the movie is better to watch if people aren't critizing it. I, however, think that this is a very excellent movie. The wonderful, fun camera shots are great to look at. Director, Wong Kar Wai definetly didn't limit himself.

The movie starts with Takeshi Kaneshiro who plays a cop and Brigette Lin who was betrayed on her part of a drug deal. Kaneshiro plays a very interesting, and amusing role of the lovesick cop who goes to eat can after cans of pineapple. He eventually meets Brigette Lin who share one night in a hotle together.

The story doesn't stay there for long, it soon goes to another lovesick cop played by TOny Leung CW, and Faye Wong who develops a crush on him. Here the movie gets into the musicvideo, playing "California Dreaming" 7 times! What a delight to watch TOny Leung talk to stuffed animals, soap, washcloths and other things to cure his heartache. Even better was seeing the lengths Faye Wong went to just to satify her feelings.

This is a great movie, without a doubt. It's aa movie on two levels, if people only see the surface then , they missed the point. But if you see the second level, it's much more fulfilling. The movie laughs at us during our emotional battles at the beginning and ending of an relationship. A must watch movie!!!

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 02/28/2000

I won't bore with stipulation to whether Wong Kar Wai is art or Unintelligable. If the stigma with arty movies is overcome then what you'll find is a thoroughly watchable piece of popular cinema. People are too quick to moan if there's not a 'classic' storyline. There's bold visuals, a quick editing style (much akin to Television), a great emotive pop-song soundtrack and a good looking cool cast. Ithink that the dialogue and style is refreshing and interesting. The pretentious self absorbed actions of the characters had us in stitches and reminded us of our own stupid behaviour around the time of a break up. Two classic moments that best show this are Kaneshiro eating all the tins of pinapple then being sick in the bar and Tony Leung scolding all his household objects for being miserable, great stuff. This film is a good piece of work and can be enjoyed on several different levels.

[Reviewed by Andrew Best]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

An excellent work of genius. Possibly Wrong Kar Wai's best film, picking up numerous Hong Kong Film Awards.


[Reviewed by Andrej Blazeka]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

I must say that I really disliked this film, though I did what I could to watch it with an open mind. The motion-blur cinematography was excruciating! The use of different dialects by the first narrator cop was very self-conscious and annoying. His acting was about as unconvincing as a high-school play -- never did I once believe he was a cop. On that point, none of the other actors and actresses play real characters that depart from their star personas either. Bridgitte Lin plays Asia the Invincible with shades, a blond wig and a gun. Faye Wong basically plays herself -- a ditsy mod chick with a girl-next-door crush. And I don't see what Tony Leung (one of my favorite Chinese actors) did to win best actor. Wong Kar Wei definitely leaves his signature on his work, and that's good. But whatever he does, I feel it must be judged honestly on its own merit. I think this is a terrible movie. It's all style and no substance. You can't even pass it off as art, either; it's purely craftsmanship. Come to think of it, it is kind of a two-hour music video, isn't it? For the Cranberries rip-off and the Mamas and Papas. Now for the disclaimer. This is just one guy's opinion.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong's only director of "art" filmsfinally spins out a winner. Two HK cops, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung, search for love in a disconcerting urban world with lots of jerk-motion photography and no establishing shots. Kaneshiro falls for dope smuggler Brigitte Lin (hidden somewhere behind a blond wig and sunglasses), who mows down her enemies with aplomb (actually, a gun). Leung is crazy about an airline stewardess who's no longer in love with him, so he spends his time moping in his apartment, playing with model airplanes and having dialogues with a selection of stuffed toys, cabinets, aquarium fish, dishrags, soap, himself -- basically, anything that'll listen. Brigitte Lin appears for the first half of the film, then vanishes for some undisclosed reason; her scenes chasing down the Arab co-conspirators who swindled her are filmed in an indescribable sort of thrilling jerk-motion I've never seen duplicated. Ectomorphic Faye Wong (who bears more than a slight resemblance to Lin) is cute as the Chungking Express counter girl who listens to "California Dreaming" over and over (the audience hears it seven times), falls in love with Tony Leung, gets his apartment keys and cleans up, putters around. The movie may not have not have much in the way of a straightforward moral per se, but it's a surprisingly unoppressive treatment of lives and loves out of synch. A movie about nostalgia for lost love suddenly becomes a tribute to a special time and place in HK history. Of course, making a film about disconnected city existence is a great excuse for an incoherent plot line, crazed visuals, and editing from beneath the dungeons of Chinese hell; but dammit, for once the gimmicks work -- and it doesn't hurt having the cutest babes and in-demand adonises inflated HK bucks can buy. Apparently, Wong produced and directed the film rather quickly (in a hiatus of his dreadful martial arts epic, The Ashes of Time); as a result, it turns out something like a cinematic Rorschach blot, where everyone is likely to take home a different message. But that doesn't stop it from being a real charmer, and something of a minor classic.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 10