Hong Kong cinema has a stigma of being only martial arts films. Many of us are guilty of that association, including me for a while…until I was introduced to Wong Kar-Wai through his toweringly magnificent film Chungking Express. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest films ever made.
This film has so many aspects to rave about – how to choose? Well, I must say very few films from any place have the score this film does. It starts with the insanely beautiful piece of music “Baroque” by Michael Galasso. It perfectly complements the rushed but beautiful tone of the film. Its loud, brash and almost scary in its cadences and melody, but then again, so is the film. About a quarter of the film is set to California Dreaming by The Mamas and the Papas, and it isn’t the first time a popular song has been used in a film, but never has it been as effective as this. This isn’t just background music – it almost defines the second story, and I dare anyone who has seen the film to ever listen to California Dreaming without their mind wandering to the subdued romance of Tony Leung and Faye Wong. The film has a relatively short tracklist, but due to the repetition and way they were used, it is absolutely perfect.
The performances in this film were absolutely mesmerizing. Takeshi Kaneshiro was my personal favorite. His performance as a lovelorn young cop who runs into the strikingly beautiful Brigitte Lin was sheer perfection. However, it is impossible not to form a giant crush on Faye Wong – her pixie beauty and swift movements make her some otherworldly, as if she is some supernatural angel descended upon Earth. Her performance was absolutely amazing, and her passion and ability to create a character we become so connected to wins our hearts and her performance is one of those rare ones that will never leave you, and rightfully so. The quartet of actors in this film are an absolute delight to watch, and seeing them hold their own on the screen was heartbreakingly beautiful.
Wong Kar-Wai has created something amazing here. It is a soft, quiet film that is also explosive and powerful. This is definitely one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen, and it stays with you for a long time afterwards. Cinema will never seem the same once you have seen this masterpiece