The whiplash, double-pronged Chungking Express is one of the defining works of nineties cinema and the film that made Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai an instant icon. Two heartsick Hong Kong cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung), both jilted by ex-lovers, cross paths at the Midnight Express take-out restaurant stand, where the ethereal pixie waitress Faye (Faye Wong) works. Anything goes in Wong s gloriously shot and utterly unexpected charmer, which cemented the sex appeal of its gorgeous stars and forever turned canned pineapple and the Mamas and the Papas California Dreamin into tokens of romantic longing.
Chungking Express tells two stories loosely connected by a Hong Kong snack bar. In one story, a cop who's been recently dumped by his girlfriend becomes obsessed with the expiration dates on cans of pineapple; he's constantly distracted as he tries to track down a drug dealer in a blond wig (played by Brigitte Lin, best known from Swordsman II and The Bride with White Hair). Meanwhile, another cop who's recently been dumped by his girlfriend (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, from John Woo's Hard-Boiled and A Bullet in the Head) mopes around his apartment, talking to his sponge and other domestic objects. He catches the eye of a shop girl (Hong Kong pop star Faye Wang) who secretly breaks in and cleans his apartment. If you're beginning to suspect that neither of these stories has a conventional plot, you're correct. What Chungking Express does have is loads of energy and a gorgeous visual style that never gets in the way of engaging with the charming characters. The movie was shot on the fly by hip director Wong Kar-Wai (Happy Together, Ashes of Time), using only available lighting and found locations. The movie's loose, improvisational feel is closer to Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless than any recent film--and that's high praise. Quirky, funny, and extremely engaging, Chungking Express manages to be experimental and completely accessible at the same time. (Amazon)