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01.24.2002

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flick pick | Chungking Express 1994
Directed + written by: Wong Kar-Wai
Starring: Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Language: Cantonese/Mandarin [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under:
foreign [Hong Kong], drama
Watch it when youíre in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, hip, lovey 
The critic says: Ĺ/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis In the first half of the film, a young Hong Kong cop, recently dumped, pines for his ex-girlfriend while roaming the city streets on the night before his birthday, May 1, which happens to also mark the one-month anniversary of the breakup. Do the math and youíll realize the breakup actually occurred on April Foolís Day, which is why the poor copís still half-convinced that it was all just a cruel joke. So every day since the day his girl up and left him, the cop has been collecting canned pineapple (her favorite) with an expiry date of May 1; itís the same expiry date heís set on his hope that the love of his life will come back to him. But itís the last night of April and itís becoming clear to him that sheís left for good. Drowning his sorrows at a bar, he glimpses a mysterious beauty in a curly blonde wig, and wanders over to try and find love again. In the second half of the film, we follow another Hong Kong cop, whose only concrete connection to the first is that he frequents the same fast food take-out stand. When his flight attendant girlfriend decides to end their relationship, she does so in a note that she leaves in the hands of take-out stand girl Fay, along with her copy of the copís housekeys. Of course both are meant to be passed along to the cop next time he comes in for a meal, but eccentric Fay has developed a bit of a crush on the cop, and decides to keep the key for her own purposes.

Review Chungking Express is romantic. Not Meg-Ryan-mooning-around-in-New-York-City- romantic (which, except in the case of When Harry Met Sally, just plain isnít, despite the fact that every year, the studios try to convince us otherwise), but moody-quirky-isnít-love-sometimes-lonely romantic. Itís the sort of romantic that makes me feel that lovely shade of blue I sometimes describe as triste, when Iím being faux-pretentious (because thereís something about that self-indulgent, dreamy sad that strikes me as so very, quintessentially French). And itís this mood, captured through the filmís very stylish, very kinetic camerawork and aided by the hypnotically beautiful nighttime Hong Kong cityscape, that connects the two Hong Kong cops in Chungking Express. Their two stories might seem wholly separate upon first viewing (thereís an abrupt switch in the middle of the film that comes seemingly out of the blue, and you half expect the first cop to be mentioned again later on in the film), but what you realize later is that this lack of coherence is only true if youíre looking for physical connections. Because while the two lovelorn cops of Chungking Express never connect paths in any scene in the entire movie, they actually share quite a lot. See, this isnít the sort of movie that turns lives into simple plots, neatly intertwined and tied together to make sense at the end; the threads that connect these lives arenít about common events but common emotions, in particular, the pains and pangs of love. Wong Kar-Waiís quirky, artsy film might not be the best choice for anyone who demands tightly-woven plots and logical relationships in their video picks, but for the rest of us, itís a charmingly seductive little treat. óreviewed by Y. Sun

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