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Chungking Express

Poster for the movie "Chungking Express"

Chungking Express (1994)

PG-13 102 min - Drama, Comedy, Romance - 14 July 1994
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Every day, Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) buys a can of pineapple with an expiration date of May 1, symbolizing the day he'll get over his lost love. He's also got his eye on a mysterious woman in a blond wig (Brigitte Lin), oblivious of the fact she's a drug dealer. Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) is distraught with heartbreak over a breakup. But when his ex drops a spare set of his keys at a local cafe, a waitress (Faye Wong) lets herself into his apartment and spruces up his life.

Director:  Wong Kar-wai

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Storyline

Every day, Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) buys a can of pineapple with an expiration date of May 1, symbolizing the day he'll get over his lost love. He's also got his eye on a mysterious woman in a blond wig (Brigitte Lin), oblivious of the fact she's a drug dealer. Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) is distraught with heartbreak over a breakup. But when his ex drops a spare set of his keys at a local cafe, a waitress (Faye Wong) lets herself into his apartment and spruces up his life.


Collections: Wong Kar-wai

Genres: Drama, Comedy, Romance

Details

Official Website: 
Country:   Hong Kong
Release Date:  14 July 1994

Box Office

Company Credits

Production Companies:  Jet Tone Production

Technical Specs

Runtime:  1 h 42 min

“Chungking Express,” released in 1994, is a renowned Hong Kong romantic crime comedy-drama anthology film. Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, the film consists of two stories, each centered around a lovesick Hong Kong policeman and his relationships with women. The film’s unique narrative structure and visual style have led to it being widely regarded as one of Wong Kar-wai’s finest works and a milestone in 1990s cinema.

Critical Acclaim and Influence

The film received widespread critical acclaim for its direction, cinematography, and cast performances. It has been lauded as one of the best movies of 1994, of the 1990s, of the 20th century, and of all time. Its influence extends beyond Hong Kong cinema, particularly evident in its impact on the American film “Big Trouble in Little China.” In 2022, “Chungking Express” was ranked number 88 on the Sight and Sound critics’ poll of the greatest films of all time.

Plot Summaries

First Story

The first story features Takeshi Kaneshiro as a cop named He Qiwu, dealing with a breakup from his girlfriend, May. His narrative intertwines with that of a mysterious drug smuggler (Brigitte Lin), leading to an unusual encounter and connection.

Second Story

The second story stars Tony Leung as a police officer recovering from the loss of his flight attendant girlfriend (Valerie Chow). His life takes a turn when he receives unexpected attention from a quirky snack bar worker (Faye Wong).

Themes and Filmmaking Style

Wong Kar-wai is known for his fragmented narrative structure and deep exploration of themes like love, loss, and memory. “Chungking Express” is particularly notable for its portrayal of urban loneliness and the longing for connection in a bustling city. The film’s title refers to Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, where Wong grew up, and the food stand Midnight Express in Lan Kwai Fong.

Production

Wong Kar-wai wrote and directed “Chungking Express” during a two-month break from editing his wuxia film “Ashes of Time.” The film was shot in Tsim Sha Tsui and Central, including Lan Kwai Fong, capturing the essence of urban Hong Kong. The screenplay was developed during filming, with a third story initially planned but later produced as a separate film, “Fallen Angels” (1995).

Soundtrack and Marketing

The soundtrack of “Chungking Express” features a mix of songs that contribute significantly to its mood and themes, including “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas & the Papas and a Cantonese cover of “Dreams” by The Cranberries, performed by Faye Wong. The marketing posters were designed by artist Stanley Wong, under his pseudonym “Another Mountain Man.”

Distribution and Reception

The film was distributed in North America by Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder distribution company under Miramax and later by The Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. It earned HK$7,678,549 during its Hong Kong run and grossed $600,200 in the United States.

Legacy

“Chungking Express” is celebrated for its innovative storytelling and visual flair, contributing significantly to Wong Kar-wai’s reputation as a leading figure in contemporary cinema. The film’s impact is evident in its enduring popularity and influence on filmmakers worldwide, including Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins. It remains a pivotal work in the canon of Hong Kong and world cinema.

[wikipedia]