An alluring hybrid. A spectacular misfire. The sequences with the mysterious hit-man and his beautiful contact are some of the most striking and stylish moments in Asian cinema. These are sequences that sear the memory, as Michelle Reis sizzles even more than Wong Kar-wai’s other screen sirens. Sex on a stick and very, very isolated even as Hong Kong bustles in around her.
This has been described as a sequel or companion piece to WKW’s Chungking Express and this movie in itself contains two strands, two separate narratives. One intensely memorable while the other, featuring Chungking’s Takeshi Kaneshiro, falls flat and stumbles fatuously.
The killer sequences with Reis and Leon Lai scintillate and pose questions. They are fast and over too soon and yet have their deliberate longueurs. They breathe. Breathlessly.
It’s not the sexiness of Reis as the fixer writhing on the killer’s empty bed that seduces, so much as the depiction and expression of unfulfilled longing. If you see this movie as an 18-year-old teenager of any sex you will never forget it. The scenes of self-pleasuring are not pornographic – Reis remains fully clothed – it’s the intensely personal tone of the scenes that captivates.
As she writhes on the bed for the second time the camera, the room and the bed turn with her to create a black screen wipe. Let’s not forget the year is 1995 and that impending sense of fear is maybe the dark shadow of mainland China about to obliterate everything in Hong Kong. Darkness pervades everything, even the vibrancy of the colours.
The killer and his contact remain alone and searching – perhaps for each other. But maybe just for something absent in their lives. And the style is early and definitive Wong Kar-wai, and he went on to a more restrained vocabulary in In The Mood For Love and 2046.
And what if the girl was the killer and the nameless man her unseen, unmoved contact? Now what a movie that would have been.