#87. Chungking Express (1994)
Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
Written by: Wong Kar-wai
Starring: Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung, Faye Wong
Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai helped to further popularize international cinema in the 1990’s, inspiring many in the American independent scene with his moody, stylish films. The film that made the biggest impression internationally was 1994’s highly influential Chungking Express. The film tells two relatively small and intimate stories of loneliness in modern day Hong Kong – the first follows Cop 663 (Tony Leung) as he is recovering from heartbreak, and a mysterious woman in a blonde wig (Brigitte Lin) as she survives in the Hong Kong drug trafficking scene. The second story sees Cop 663 reeling from yet another breakup, and a young woman named Faye (Faye Wong – introduced briefly in the first story). To help Cop 663 get through the rough period, Faye lets herself into his apartment while he is away and cleans arranges things. The film is as bizarre and surreal as it sounds – but it’s also incredibly beautiful and innovative at the same time. Wong Kar-wai makes the crowded and bustling Hong Kong streets feel lonely and isolated in both stories, at the same time employing his trademark frantic, high energy direction. Chungking Express is a revelation, and what I would consider to be the pinnacle of 90’s international cinema. Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino have lifted a great deal of techniques and style from Wong Kar-wai, and after seeing Chungking Express you’ll understand why.