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Chungking Express  

Director: Wong kar-Wai
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Brigitte Lin, Faye Wang, Tony Leung Chiu Wai

At times as frenetic as an music video, at others, with all the pace and atmosphere of an art-house film, this is an erratic movie with interesting moments and perplexing plots, a movie that could either be brilliant or annoying. You never quite know if the director's yanking your crank or actually trying to say something, creating characters and situations which are left-of-centre in a world very much like ours. Hong Kong here looks drab yet alien, monochrome but in sharp colours, and pokey and crowded with humanity, yet isolating and lonely.

Each of the characters in this movie (which consists of two parts) though, could be said to be looking for love and dealing with its loss or rejection in rather quirky behaviour. Police detective Qiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) consumes the content of pineapple cans with a certain used by date, and more predictably, tries to pick up a beautiful blonde-wigged woman (Brigitte Lin) at a bar, unaware that she works for a drug lord as a cold-blooded killer and courier. Officer #663 (Tony Leung) rebukes his heartache by speaking to the inanimate objects in his apartment, unaware at first that Faye (Faye Wang) has been clandestinely cleaning his apartment every week and exploring his life through his personal things.

The first story involving the detective and the criminal doesn't seem to fit together, though the plot devices and soliloquy delivered by Qiwu presents a character that is tragic and comic at the same time. Brigitte Lin's assassin isn't much involved in this film, unimpressed by Qiwu's melancholia and much less so by his advances. The second is much more enjoyable, with a quirky kind of love story developing between Officer #663 and Faye, who is attracted by the former's forlornness, but who is also crazy enough to think its fun to clean his apartment, feed his pets, replace every can of food in his cupboards, and just about rearranging his entire home content. She takes outrageous liberties in terms of personal property and her sense of responsibility is questionable, yet she is likable, and perhaps suited for the dour officer who has her affections.

Wong kar-Wai's visual style is evident - quick edits, strange lighting and colours, and time lapse photography - all creating a visual depiction of a city that is surreal yet gritty, with well-placed images and unorthodox pacing. It is a movie which doesn't correspond to a set structure, making it unpredictable, fascinating, but rough around the edges and a bit unfocused. It is a movie which will, however, leave images and impressions on the mind.

Eden Law

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