Chungking Express is a 1994 film by Wong Kar-wai set in Hong Kong. It consists of two parts, each following a different police officer and their experiences with love. It’s visually stunning and incredibly stylish.
Part I is about 40 minutes long and tells the story of a younger police officer who got dumped by his pineapple-loving girlfriend. He crosses paths with a woman wearing a blonde wig and sunglasses on his birthday.
Part II tells the story of another police officer. He gets dumped by his flight attendant girlfriend. Faye, a woman who works at the Midnight Express restaurant, begins to enter his apartment and make small changes like swapping items and changing his wardrobe. He eventually catches on and takes action.
What ties the two parts together is the Midnight Express restaurant. There’s not much beyond that. I’m glad that the film doesn’t attempt to bring the two parts together at the end in any way. It almost feels like two episodes of a mini-series, where there could have been more parts in the future.
The film has such a visual and aural style, almost noir-ish. The colors are vibrant without being too flashy. It’s got this soft look that is very appealing.
The music is so stellar. From the bluesy and jazzy saxophone to the licensed songs “What a Difference a Day Makes” and “California Dreaming,” the music fits so nicely with the film. Here’s one of the songs:
My biggest nitpick is the soft-drink product placement. It’s a bit excessive, and it took me out of the film. The second part would be improved by being shorter. 45 minutes for each would have been the sweet spot.
From my perspective of someone interested in making films, Chungking Express has shown me that slice of life stories can be interesting. A grand romantic narrative or resolution is not necessary.
I enjoyed Chungking Express. The cinematography is on another level. Both parts stand well on their own, but I prefer the first. I’m looking forward to watching Wong Kar-wai’s other films, and I’d like to revisit Chungking Express after.
The Bottom Line: Chungking Express is the cutest film about gaslighting of the 20th century.