In his celebrated portrait of a neon-lit city populated by lovelorn cops, dangerous drug smugglers and dreamers, Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai created one of the pop classics of 1990s cinema.
Kar-wai's film explores two stories of crime and passion, set within the complex network of markets, corridors and apartments that is Chungking Mansions, in the district of Kowloon. The first tale sees a detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) brushing against a woman on the run (Brigitte Lin). In the second, a broken-hearted street cop (Tony Leung) is unaware that the woman (Faye Wong) who serves him at a local cafe is in love with him. She breaks into his apartment, cleans it and leaves him mementoes in the hope he will get over his sadness and see how much she thinks of him.
The passage of time is central to both stories of heartbreak. Kar-wai accentuates it with the use of different speed film, speeding up and slowing down the action to capture the feelings of his characters. And as with all his films, from ‘Days of Being Wild through to ‘The Grandmaster’, he knows how to employ music. In this case, brilliant use of The Mamas and the Papas ‘California Dreamin’’. But the real star of the film is Kowloon. As shot by Chungking Mansions resident and genius cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the world Kar-wai and his team creates is an explosion of colour and action.
★★★★ "Wong's dreamlike tone and Doyle's stunning cinematography make this strange love story a joy to watch" - Kim Newman, Empire