Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Film Review: Chungking Express (1994)

In Chungking Express, the director, Wong Kar-wai, uses a variety of film techniques in order to convey the struggle of finding companionship. Kar-wai toys with plot structure, camera movement, and framing in order to show two separate love adventures. Kar-wai expresses how even in a city as busy as Hong-Kong, many people are lonely. Although these techniques can potentially leave viewers frustrated or confused, if one can fight through these frustrations, the end result is a satisfying experience.
Chungking Express consists of two separate stories told back to back. The first is about a Hong-Kong policeman, known as Cop 223, who is struggling to get over his ex-girlfriend, May, in addition the audience meets a drug smuggling women who is trying to fix a drug deal gone wrong. These two seemingly dis-connected stories meet when Cop 223 starts hitting on the mystery women at the bar. However it leads nowhere as the women is too tired and is taken to a hotel where she falls asleep, and Cop 223 leaves. The next story is about another man, Cop 663, and his struggle to overcome his breakup with a flight attendant. This story ends on a happier, yet ambiguous note as he falls for an employee of his favorite restaurant. The movie ends with them two in the restaurant, now owned by Cop 663, and him asking the female, Faye, where they want to fly too, however the viewers never hear the answer.

Kar-wai uses a handheld camera in order to convey the chaos and over-crowdedness of Hong Kong. When characters are on the move the handheld camera shakes and jolts the viewer around. However when inside, mainly in the snack food store, or in one of the cop’s residences, the camera is still and focused. Kar-wai does a tremendous job contrasting these two settings in order to convey how an individual can be lonely even when in such a vibrant, bustling city.
The mise en scène used by Kar-wai did a fantastic job of illustrating the disconnect between characters throughout the film. It was most prevalent during the scenes in which Cop 663 interacted with Faye.  When he goes to the restaurant Faye is cleaning the outside glass, Kar-wai films this shot from the perspective of Faye, with the glass separating them, the glass acts as a motif to show their separation. The restaurant counter acts the same as the glass in other scenes.
Overall Chungking Express is a film displaying loneliness in a large city. The director, Wong Kar-wai, uses framing, a handheld camera, and a non-linear plot line in order to display this, leaving the viewer with a film that shows the true effects loneliness has on a human being.
Director- Wong Kar-wai

Brigitte Lin- Women in Blond
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai- Cop 663
Faye Wong- Faye
Takeshi Kaneshiro- He Zhiwu, Cop 223

Year- 1994 (China), 1995 (UK), 1996 (U.S)

Length- 98 minutes (HK), 104 Minutes (U.S)

Country- Hong Kong

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