Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Chungking Express

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As I planned yesterday, I re-watched Wong Kar Wai’s (or Kar Wai Wong’s if I understand correctly that ‘Wong’ is actually his surname but names are usually put the other way ‘round in Chinese) Chungking Express tonight. It’s quite an old film by now, being from 1993, and I think I must have taped and watched it in 1999 or so. Apart from a few details (passing away in bar / blonde shooting people / ananas / the cop’s flat) I didn’t remember anything.

Compared to In the Mood for Love and 2046, Chungking Express looked really aged by now. Both because I taped it from TV and because of the film itself. Perhaps a technical point. But also one of aesthetics I think. It seems that films have become shinier and smoother in the past years. It also makes use of music a lot. In the same repetitive way as the other films. And even with a bit of dancing, which reminded me a bit of Pulp Fiction (which was apparently made a year after Chungking Express).

There are two stories in the film. Each of which centres around a policeman and a woman. The first two just meet while they’re in a bad mood and more or less and up being drunk and passing out. While the other policeman (played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai, who’s also the lead actor in the other two films) tries hard to deny that he might like the new girl behind the counter at his favourite takeaway place while he’s trying to cope with the fact that his girlfriend dumped him. While he’s sort-of ignoring her, she starts to be obsessed about him and goes around to and into his flat while he’s working, changing things there. (Quite freaky but rather cool!)

While I’m probably far from appreciating all the details, I like it that the three films have many parallels. In particular the stories that are told aren’t very action laden, but rather revolve around the theme of a guy meeting a girl, them sort-of liking each other, but not much happening. Not only is this fantastically sobering from the kitsch-laden things you get to see otherwise, it also leaves a lot of room for sidenotes and quirks.

What I don’t ‘get’ about these films is why there are several stories woven together to make a single film. Sure, there are some parallels and overlaps in the stories, but I keep thinking that there’s no particular need to merge them to give a single film as they remain essentially separate und whatever overlap there is doesn’t seem particularly relevant.

April 16, 2005, 2:12

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