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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Chen Chang delivers a properly enigmatic performance as the lead in Parking.

3 out of 4 stars


Parking (Ting Che)

  • Written and directed by Chung Mong-hong
  • Starring Chen Chang, Jack Kao, Peggy Tseng, Chapman To and Leon Dai
  • Classification: NA

A man awakes in a car and fishes a bent cigarette out of his pocket. His rough night becomes a difficult morning when he pulls in front of a pâtisserie to get a cake for his estranged wife. It's Mother's Day; he should buy her some gift.

When Chen Mo (Chen Chang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ) returns to the street he's blocked in by a double-parked car. Looking for the owner, he climbs several flights of stairs in a nearby building and is welcomed into a crowded apartment. An old man and his blind wife seem certain he's their son. She traces his face, beaming.

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Chen knows he should probably go, but decides to stay for a meal to placate the kind old woman. Maybe Chen feels as blocked as his car outside and wants someone else to hang out with for a while.

So begins the intriguing, After Hours -like black comedy-noir, Parking , the artful, always surprising feature film debut of evidently talented Taiwanese director, Chung Mong-hong.

In the next 24 hours, Chen will befriend a one-armed barber, then hang out with a tailor who owns an exclusive, failing (perhaps because it's misspelled), New England-style men's shop - Poston. He will also sit on his wife's cake, fall into a fierce battle with dangerous, gun-bearing hoodlums and stare down a bulging fish eye in a bowl of noodles.

While he's at it, we'll discover how come Chen and his wife are in trouble. And why so many Taiwanese feel boxed in.

Parking is never again as good as its wonderful first half-hour, when we're never sure which way the film is going to jump. But Chang delivers an enigmatic performance in the lead role. The supporting cast, featuring many regular faces in Hong Kong cinema, is colourful and sinister. And the director, who has worked until now in commercials, demonstrates throughout that he has a great eye and ear for filmmaking.

He's his own cameraman - and a good one. In addition, like so many young filmmakers, he would appear to have a great record collection. The beguiling soundtrack includes music from avant-garde composer John Cage along with atonal feedback from the low-fi cult band Smog.

Chung Mong-hong is a director to watch. Starting right now, with Parking .

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