Chungking Express is a Chinese film that is actually two short films tangled together in the same setting, a common premise for films. The two stories explore chaotic love and forlorn spirit in a Hong Kong real estate complex, titularly named the Chungking Mansions. It is a real place, and the first story takes place entirely within the setting; the second adds locations such as an apartment and various diners, all in a compressed urban jungle.
The film is a whirlwind of cinema; very kinetic and energetic. The camerawork is extremely frenetic and blurry, with eclectic colors that bleed through each other and wash out the screen. The whole thing is very dream-like, especially the second tale with its constant repetition of The Mamas & the Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’ as a repeating soundtrack. Like I mentioned, the film is actually two stories for the price of one, connected through an insignificant event that serves merely as a transition from one to the next. The first tale is primarily stylish, used to convey the frantic pacing of the setting and the storytelling; the second one is much more grounded.
I was left with little to say about this one, mostly because it had so little to say about itself. Not that it doesn’t speak its mind, but there’s very little deeper meaning to it; it exists merely as a throwaway film made in between two other films in director Wong Kar-wai’s filmography. Nevertheless, it is quite the experience, and while I wouldn’t recommend it to a general audience, it is fairly wide open enough to appeal to many different kinds of moviegoers.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10