Set deep inside the sprawling and sweaty mega city that is Hong Kong, Chunking Express tells the story of two love sick policemen who have lost love. The first story stars Takeshi Kaneshiro as Cop 223 who was dumped by his girlfriend on April 1st and decides to wait for her to change her mind until his birthday a month later before moving on. At this time he meets a mysterious woman in a blonde wig (Brigitte Lin) who has connections to the underworld. The second story features Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Cop 663, a man who has recently been dumped by his air hostess girlfriend. He frequents a small food stall called Midnight Express where the quirky and attractive Faye (Faye Wong) works.
At times I struggled to follow the storyline of the film which was a huge problem for me but there is enough to like besides that, that the film was really enjoyable and it features some great cinematography and quirky ideas. I loved the shots of central characters in slow motion with the rest of the world sped up. They looked fantastic and also worked as a metaphor to show the disconnection and loneliness that you can feel in a big city. The locations were also really interesting as I haven’t seen much Hong Kong cinema before; most of the places were new and exciting to watch.
I definitely preferred the second storyline to the first, mostly due to Faye Wong’s character. She appears to be quite quirky and outgoing but is also, at times, very shy. When the opportunity arises for her to gain access to Cop 663’s apartment the film turns down a very weird route but I liked it a lot. It was about this time that my girlfriend walked in and exclaimed “you watch some weird films”. I’m still not really sure why Wong was doing what she was doing but it was entertaining to watch. The performances were all excellent but again Wong was the star of the show for me. To be honest though, the entire cast were very good.
Something else that caught my attention was the soundtrack. Various songs are repeated over and over with The Mamas & Papas California Dreaming being the most obvious. The song sounded great and fitted the plot exceptionally well. What a Diff’rence a Day Made by Dinah Washington is also featured, as is Faye Wong’s cover of The Cranberries Dreams (Mung Zung Yan).
I feel bad that I was confused by the characters and storyline and think that the film probably deserves a second viewing. Overall it is a well crafted, vibrant and frenetic film that has some lovely moments and great characters but I wasn’t as hot on it as most others it seems. Sight and Sound placed the film as the 8th best film of the last 25 years and I certainly wouldn’t place it anywhere near as high as that.