Chungking Express (重慶森林): follows two lovesick Hong Kong police officers as they try to get over their last relationships. You can immediately tell that the visuals are the driving force of the film – the camera movement is light and fluid, framing and camera angles are experimental, the lighting is bright and bold – it ties together to create a very unique look. Unfortunately, no other elements of this movie come close to distracting you from this: the performances are decent but the characters (and their philosophy-lite inner dialogue) feel whimsical and slight; and the plot is inconsequential – relying on artsy / cutesy / quirky moments and fanciful gestures of romance to hold it all together. The film is split into two stories that have a few similarities (talking to inanimate objects, tinned food, chef salads, Indian people, and varying opinions on tears & water) but would have worked better focusing on the second part. If you think of a big HK movie in the 1990s, this is the complete opposite; so much so that it feels like a rebellious statement – ‘screw what you know about HK directors… I’m making a tedious homage to the French New Wave, suck it up losers!’ At over 100 minutes long it doesn’t half drag, which is a shame because a handful of nice moments and ideas get swallowed up by the dominating pop-video style, excessive runtime, and hammy dialogue – see below for genuine quotes. Chungking Express appears on list after list of seminal movies, but in reality it’s a barely-worked-on, directionless, and lightly scripted pet project between other movies – and it feels like nothing more than that to me. I’m sure he’s a lovely Won Kar-Guy, but I don’t understand Won Kar-Why the ratings for this are so Won Kar-High!?!? There are better films about Hong Kong and far better films about love: this is a definitive example of style over substance.
” If memories could be canned, would they also have expiry dates? If so, I hope they last for centuries.”
” Somehow everything comes with an expiry date. Swordfish expires. Meat sauce expires. Even cling-film expires. Is there anything in the world which doesn’t?”
” In May’s eyes, I’m no different from a can of pineapple.”
” When people cry, they can dry their eyes with tissues. But when an apartment cries, it takes a lot to mop it up.”
Naked Killer (赤裸羔羊): a cop that vomits every time he picks up a gun has to catch a killer that targets men, and stabs / chops off their meat & two veg… Really .The film does nothing to hide its terrible editing, camerawork and flaky acting – feels like a Troma/no-budget movie. The ‘plot’ is impossibly ridiculous and the script / translations are just mental – “why are you pointing your pink pistol at me” & “I’ll squeeze your tits ’til they burst” being just a couple of choice lines. There’s unprecedented levels of flirty lesbian conversations and boob rubbing – definitely a film made exclusively for teenage boys. On the upside: the girls are pretty, and hidden amongst everything else, there are some good fight-scenes (although poorly put together)- that’s… about… it. Naked Killer boils to being a standard assassin/thriller story with as much camp, random, slapstick, bawdy, ridiculous, male-fantasy moments the runtime would allow to throw at it – all very Asian and very 90s. Perhaps it’s the UK version, but the film feels so random and disjointed that it has to be heavily cut – either that or it IS just awful. Despite having properly set expectations for a Category III film called “Naked Killer” this was plain disappointing, although, If you have a ‘thing’ for lesbian Asian assassins, then this is definitely one for you.
Tron Legacy: 3D – sequel-ish rebooty mish mash, in relation to the original sci-fi epic Tron; and almost 30 years in the making. First off, the story is atrocious, convoluted and a shoddy excuse to bombard your eyes with cutting-edge special effects. Not necessarily a bad thing as the CGI is great, and there’s plenty of sly little nods to the definitive Sci Fi flicks; Matrix, 2001, Blade Runner, original Tron etc. The 3D element (particularly in the computer) was impressive and added to the big, loud, bold & fast action sequences. I enjoyed how the Technical/I.T./Computing terminology and detail is still tight, however this is a bit of problem because the film tries to balance this (appealing to the sub-culture of computer geeks – like the original) with a blockbuster movie – which was alienating to technophobes as it doesn’t hold back with the jargon. The story also relies on viewers seeing & understanding the original to fully ‘get it’. Bridges is alright but essentially plays a watered-down PG version of the Dude. CGI Bridges was so life-like that I bet some people couldn’t tell he wasn’t real. Oh, and Michael Sheen was ridiculous as a Bowie rip-off. The Daft Punk soundtrack was spot on; booming and atmospheric in all the right places. Despite the visual opulence, for an epic big-budget studio film it all feels quite hollow, and purely there for aesthetic reasons / franchise-based ticket sales. Other than the action sequences (essentially graphically updated from Tron), and a couple of scenes that make you think “awesome!” there’s not a whole lot else to take away from Tron Legacy.