Wong's exploration of Hong Kong through his use of cinematography and storytelling in Chungking Express is an example of the director-flaneur. The film displays an urban landscape depicting Hong Kong as an increasingly globalized city, a command-post city that is constantly changing. Wong shows Hong Kong to be a very dreamlike, impressionistic place, as characters wander through it nearly marooned in this global city mirage (Berry, 2008).
Time-space compression is exemplified through the myriad landscapes that the two characters wander through, from fast food shops to lonely streets. These policemen show just how globalization limits the potential of the flaneur and exaggerates their innate lovesickness, the mix of identities and cultures that are found in this city showing the transition Hong Kong was going through at the time (Fu and Desser 10). In essence, Wong states that globalization offers the flaneur the ability to overcome their problems with traditional society, as he maps Hong Kong with his camera and opens up the flaneur to new possibilities.
In Chungking Express, Wong defies modernization in Chungking by mapping the city of hyper-dense Hong Kong, as the walker of Hong Kong streets desires intimacy in the anonymous crowd. Wong's guide to 'real' Hong Kong shows the dichotomy between urban slums and skyscrapers, filming them very differently, and exploring spatial configurations of urban morphology through Cop 663's travels through the slums. Through these travels, it is clear that the two sides of Hong Kong (rich and poor) are invisible to each other, having to deal with their own trouble on their own. Using his unique visual eye, Wong Kar-Wai shows a unique understanding of the confusing transition Hong Kong experienced at the time when he made Chungking Express.
Berry, Chris (ed), Chinese Film in Focus II. Palgrave, 2008.
Fu, Poshek and David Desser, eds. Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity. Cambridge
Zhang, Yingjin. Chinese National Cinema. Routledge, 2004.