"I wonder if there's anything in the world that won't expire."
- He Quiwu, Cop 223 (TAKESHI KANESHIRO)
"... because I've become more and more unlike Bruce Willis."
- He Quiwu, Cop 223 (TAKESHI KANESHIRO), when asked why his girlfriend left him.
"Did I leave the tap on, or is my apartment getting more tearful'"
- Cop 663 (TONY LEUNG CHIU-WAI), after there's a flood in his apartment.
"You've lost a lot of weight -- you need more self-confidence!"
- Cop 663 (TONY LEUNG CHIU-WAI), to his bar of soap.
Rolling Stone - 03/07/1996
"...Exhilarating....There is no mistaking Wong's talent..."
New York Times - 09/26/1994
"...Visual flair....[Wong] displays aggressive energy..."
Film Comment - 11/01/1994
"...Head over heels with stop-motion...and gleefully spinning off socko genre lines..."
Los Angeles Times - 03/08/1996
"...CHUNGKING EXPRESS is as fresh as falling rain, a pair of love stories full of pain and humor....Wong has as wonderful a way with actors as he has with a camera..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 03/15/1996
"...Wong is more of an art director, playing with the medium itself, taking fractured elements of criss-crossing stories and running them through the blender of pop culture..."
Uncut - 09/01/2004
"A hip and quirky movie, perhaps, but one that's gently profound, too."
Entertainment Weekly - 04/11/2008
"Full of Wong's signature blurred slo-mo, this playful charmer interweaves two stories..."
Acclaimed Hong Kong New Wave director Wong Kar-Wai presents a kinetic, offbeat look at his city in these two stories. The first concerns a young woman (Brigitte Lin) who has been double-crossed in a heroin deal and her budding romance with a lovelorn cop (Takeshi Kaneshiro). The second deals with another officer (Tony Leung) whose girlfriend has left him and the young waitress (Faye Wong) who tries to help him without his knowledge.
Description by Image Entertainment / Criterion Collection:
The whiplash, double-pronged Chungking Express is one of the defining works of nineties cinema and the film that made Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai an instant icon. Two heartsick Hong Kong cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leun), both jilted by ex-lovers, cross paths at the Midnight Express take-out restaurant stand, where the ethereal pixie waitress Faye (Faye Wong) works. Anything goes in Wong's gloriously shot and utterly unexpected charmer, which cemented the sex appeal of its gorgeous stars and forever turned canned pineapple and the Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin' " into tokens of romantic longing.
Big City |
Essential Cinema |
Short Stories |
Theatrical release: March 8, 1996.
The film was shown at the New York Film Festival in September 1994.
The first film distributed in the United States by Quentin Tarantino's company, Rolling Thunder. The film was a major influence on Tarantino's PULP FICTION. After seeing CHUNGKING EXPRESS, Tarantino said, "I just started crying. I'm just so happy to love a movie this much."
The film was shot in only 23 days.
Wong Kar-Wai modeled Brigitte Lin, who plays the woman in the blonde wig and sunglasses, on Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes's GLORIA as well as on Greta Garbo. In fact, at the Bottoms Up bar Lin orders a whiskey--the first words ever spoken onscreen by Garbo were "Gimme a whiskey," in NINOTCHKA. Lin's character also talks about wanting to be alone, a Garbo trademark. CHUNGKING EXPRESS was Lin's final film.
Wong had spent so much time working on ASHES OF TIME that he needed a break from editing that picture and ended up making CHUNGKING EXPRESS in the interval.
Faye Wong, who plays Faye, was a Chinese rock star, and she made her feature-film acting debut in CHUNGKING EXPRESS. She can be heard on the soundtrack singing a version of the Cranberries' "Dreams." Faye also sings two other songs--"Random Thinking" (also known as "Weird Thinking") and "Know Oneself and Others."
The song that represents Faye throughout the film is the Mama and the Papas' "California Dreaming."
Tony Leung's character, who is never named, is cop number 663.
Takeshi Kaneshiro plays He Qiwu, who is cop number 223. His telephone account number is 368, and his password is Undying Love, which can also be translated as "Love You for 10,000 Years," which helps explain the film's English-language tag line: If my memory of her has an expiration date, let it be 10,000 years...
There were originally going to be three main stories in the film, but only two were used; the third one became FALLEN ANGELS.
The apartment where cop numer 663 lives is in actuality the apartment of director of photography Christopher Doyle.
At the 1995 Honk Kong Film Awards CHUNGKING won honors for Best Film, Best Director (Wong Kar-Wai), and Best Editing (William Chang Suk Ping).
Dinah Washington's version of "What a Difference a Day Makes" also appears in the film.