Monday, 9 March 2009

Chungking Express (重庆森林) & Fallen Angels (堕落天使)

In both Chungking Express (重慶森林) (1994) and Fallen Angels (墮落天使) (1995), WKW's third and fifth release respectively, he went into overdrive with the technique of manipulating film speed, angles and editing first experimented in As Tears Go By. Filmed in part using hand held camera, these two movies defined the potpourri of pop cultures, modern trappings of lonesome individuals in the confines of a modern HK metropolis, all translated into super cool visuals, characters and off tangent conversations/narrations. To my best knowledge, Chungking Express remains the best and well liked WKW movies. Divided into two acts, the first act is about a cop, He Qiwu aka Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro), rebounding from a failed relationship by calling former female classmates for a date, jogging endlessly, eating cans of pineapples expiring on 30th May as well as trying to pick up strangers from bars. There is a reason behind all that which are both quirky and humorous. The evergreen Taiwanese actress, Brigitte Lin played an agent working for a drug trafficking syndicate, who was about to be "back stabbed" by her boss/lover. The second act is about a cop, known only as 663 (Tony Leung), also rebounding from a failed relationship with an air stewardess (Valerie Chow ~ delicious looking love scene by the way), meeting Ah Faye (Faye Wong), who worked at the local deli. She fell in love with him but pursued him in the most un-conventional ways possible, like breaking into his apartment, cleaning it as well as changing his canned foods label. The most memorable moment is when 663 stopped by the deli to drink his black coffee whilst Faye looked on. Again the accompanying song, Cantonese version of The Cranberries' Dreams, boosted the coolness factor in this one scene over the roof in my opinion. Unfortunately, the current dvd version edited the song out. In summary, it is about memories as well. This is the most fun of all WKW movies thus far.
Fallen Angels is meant to be the third act but came out as a separate movie. Who knows what WKW had in his mind at that time. This time 'round, the characters consist of a hit man (Leon Lai) on the verge of retirement, his female agent (Michelle Reis) who handles his contracts, a female delinquent (Charlie Yeung) looking for revenge on a girl supposedly marrying her former lover, and a mute hooligan (Takeshi Kaneshiro) bumped into her during one of his errants and subsequently feel in love with. The hit man muses that he is a "lazy" person, he preferred to let other people to handle his daily affairs and matters. He also concluded that one should be professional enough when it comes to relationship, thus rejecting the advances of his agent, who has grown obsessed over him (including a scene of her masturbating) after working with him for 156 days. This would resulted in his own "termination" by her betrayal. In between, he felt that life should be convenient with no strings attach, at least until his planned retirement, thus resulting in him engaging the service of a street walker by the name of Blondie (Karen Mok). WKW paid sort of acknowledgement to the world of John Woo here, with the hit man walking slo mo in stylish manner to finish off his targets as well as the "dancing" bullets and holding two semi-autos with both hands. Interestingly, one of the song reminded me of Massive Attack's Karmacoma in its execution. In the end, with the hit man dead and the delinquent finding new life as an air stewardess, the mute hooligan and the agent met each other and rode off into the breaking dawn, as she muses "although this journey would be short, for a brief moment, I feel really warm" whilst The Flying Pickets' Only You played on the background...sighhhhh.

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