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Film Review: Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024)

Updated: May 11

🎞 Asian cinema; Hong Kong film

FILE PHOTO: Film Review: Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024)   © Ryota Nakanishi
FILE PHOTO: Film Review: Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024) © Ryota Nakanishi

▪️Nostalgia (鄉愁 or Reminiscence)

It’s undoubtedly a cult film masterpiece of this city that embodies the nostalgia of Hong Kongers and culturally represents this city as symbolized as The Bottoms Up Club (filmed in The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974, which is one of my favorite 007 films starring Christopher Lee), Chungking Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui and Midnight Express in Lan Kwai Fong. The concept of nostalgia is a key to attracting the present Hong Kong audience to the cinema for this year as the marketing strategy because this title is intentionally accompanied by the ongoing release of a nostalgic-bait blockbuster film, Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In (九龍城寨之圍城, 2024). Although the continuing ‘mega-event’ (盛事) economic tactic of HKSARG has failed to grasp this point, nostalgia (鄉愁 or reminiscence), while their overwhelming target is just mainland tourists (enormously importing mainlanders is a clichéd policy or core policy for all fields of HKSARG as some kind of panacea), the film distributors more correctly grasped the point to catch economically and socially struggling Hong Kong citizens who reminisce glorious chapters (pre-1997 era) of this city which memorably connected with particular landmarks. Such as Kowloon Walled City; Kai Tak Airport; Central–Mid-Levels escalator etc. I love these landmarks as a Hong Konger, especially Sheung Wan. The district genuinely has a local taste, literally like Hong Kong. The name accurately just means Hong Kong Island. Hence, Dir. Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024) is a gift to all nostalgic Hong Kong lovers.

📌 Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024)


It’s an anthology, love comedy in a post-modernist style. Two love episodes are about breakups and close encounters of quirks, love-seeking straight youngsters in multicultural and multi-ethnic high-speed environs. Yet, the speediness of Hong Kong today is not about the efficiency of services but about the rapid financial exchanges in the market. All the cast are like real people living in the city.

Film Review: Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024)
FILE PHOTO: Faye's Fast Foodshop 'Midnight Express' in Chungking Express (1994) became 7-11 in 2024 © Ryota Nakanishi

In the 1st episode, a male police officer and a female drug trafficker are dedicated to Taiwanese charisma, Brigitte Lin and Takeshi Kaneshiro. From a woman in a blonde wig (Brigitte) hiring South Asian smugglers to a betrayal by a kingpin, and ultimate revenge, nothing is illogical, even the psychologically explainable eccentricity of Cop 223, devouring the near overdue canned pinnacles of a convenience store is as if a ‘character-creating’ technic itself of the filmmaker and superficially imitated by film students. Anyway, Kaneshiro also did the best work in his career. Technically, I am sure that Christopher Doyle’s remarkable handheld tracking shots are memorable in Brigitte’s running from the mob sequence in the MTR station at night. That was imitated by some Japanese V-cinema of that era but completely incomparable to Doyle. Again, for 4K restoration, that can’t make any significant difference to art films of the region in general due to narrow or strictly out-of-focus and low-key lighting that was inevitable due to the limited production conditions. This is acceptable and a lesson for present film productions, including art films of the era of ultra-high definition.

The second episode is the best one. It’s also a police love story - a male police officer and a female fast food store girl - in which Cop 663 (played by Hong Kong’s Harrison Ford, Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Faye (played by Hong Kong’s Jean Seberg, Faye Wong). Indeed, Dir. Wong Kar-wai achieved the cult status of Breathless (1960), especially through this episode of Midnight Express (now 7-11). Faye’s unprecedented way of seeking love in Cop 663 is likable, and the entire process itself is attractive to the audience due to the genuinely likable characters, Faye and Cop 663. As a result, segmentation of the post-modernist tendency met an unexpectedly unusual tightness of intimacy without any sexual intercourse. This is confirmed by the plot point, California, in which a once abandoned napkin note from Faye connects on the night of the first date with Cop 663 after she goes to real California as a stewardess, it finally reconnects the two at the under-refurnishing Midnight Express bought by Cop 663 to welcome Faye. It’s something neither neoliberalism nor post-modernism that deeply impresses our soul at the end. Again, it’s likable characters like Faye that genuinely attract the audience to the cinema.



Film Review: Chungking Express The 30th Anniversary 4K (重慶森林, 2024)


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