Chungking Express Screen 9 articles

Chungking Express

1994

Chungking Express Poster
  • An immensely charming and energetic comedy (1994, 97 min.) by Wong Kar-wai, one of the most exciting and original contemporary Hong Kong filmmakers. . . . Wong's singular frenetic visual style and his special feeling for lonely romantics may remind you of certain French New Wave directors, but this movie isn't a trip down memory lane; it's a vibrant commentary on young love today, packed with punch and personality.

  • This is what Godard movies were once like: fast, hand-held, funny and very, very catchy. The year's zingiest visit to Heartbreak Hotel.

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    The Village Voice: Georgia Brown
    March 12, 1996 | The Village Voice Film Guide (pp. 70-71)

    Wong Kar-wai has created—out of colored lights, devious angles, and a glorious smudged slo-mo—his own charged, dazlingly elliptical grammar to exprses something about love and pain. Wong's Chungking Express is a lyric marvel, Jules and Jim for our anonymous time.

  • Chungking Express (1994) was the Masculin féminin of the 1990s, a pop art movie about cool twentysomethings looking for love in the city that has replaced Paris as the center of the world-cinema imagination.

  • Wong sometimes gets flack for his occasionally purple dialogue (and sometimes, as in My Blueberry Nights, he damn well deserves it), but in a film like Chungking Express, words don't matter. To Wong, love isn't something you can talk about; words are inadequate, empty, inevitably reductive. Love is something you see, sense, feel, and Chungking Express is one of Wong's purest evocations of its excitement and heartbreak.

  • [Mike on changing his mind about aspects of Chungking Express:] Possibly I'm less susceptible to superficial charms (viz. F. Wong's adorable bopping around) than I used to be, and more conscious of how Wong K-w isolates his characters in the midst of teeming humanity, making the glancing, negligible connection seem more poignant than the overtly romantic one.

  • ...Chungking Express overall has the feel and rhythm of pop music—but in its sense of constant self-creation it’s more like a karaoke performance than a refined studio recording. Made over the course of three months during a break in the filming of Wong Kar-wai’s grand martial arts movie Ashes of Time, it’s a fantastically restless film, a rummaging through of techniques and scenarios that just might jell into an affecting tale of twinned romantic longings.

  • Today the film retains its playful and clumsy sexiness, its raw and rough-around-the edges appeal, its lusty lyricism, unabashed charm, and its elastic disequilibrium... A heightened awareness of passing time is imprinted on every one of the film’s burnished, stylized images, is central to its enduring ode to cinephilic romance and, ultimately, spurs its longing for fleeting and infectious moments of rapture.

  • What's surprising is that all its melding of cross-cultural influences and cinematic rule-breaking actually works and does so in exhilarating fashion. The first half, which plays like a gangster thriller, is infused with an unexpected longing, while the second half shifts effortlessly into a rom-com that balances slapstick with a deeply felt melancholy. Perhaps this is just another case of style over substance, but Wong’s masterpiece might be one of the few films in which style begets substance.

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