A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Wong Kar-Wai's movie about two love-struck cops is filmed in impressionistic splashes of motion and color. The first half deals with Cop 223, who has broken up with his girlfriend of five years. He purchases a tin of pineapples with an expiration date of May 1 each day for a month. By the end of that time, he feels that he will either be rejoined with his love or that it too will have expired forever. The second half shows Cop 663 dealing with his breakup with his flight attendant girlfriend. He talks to his apartment furnishings until he meets a new girl at a local lunch counter.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
The title is an amalgamation of two "landmarks" in Hong Kong. 1) Chungking Mansions, a drug-filled, rundown hostel populated by Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalese. 2) Midnight Express, a Indian fastfood store in Lan Kwai Fong, a major bar district populated by foreign yuppies (Tony Leung vists California, a bar located directly across the street from it). See more »
The woman in the blonde wig had no apparent opportunity to get the beeper number except from Cop 223 himself the night before, and he wouldn't have started to abandon his beeper as useless if he had just given someone new the number. See more »
[to a shirt]
Lonely? You look like a mess. Cold? I'll warm you up.
See more »
The original Hong Kong release ran 98 minutes. 'Kar Wai Wong' made several changes to the international version, bringing the running time to 102 minutes:
The international version expands the scenes where The Blonde prepares for the smuggling trip and later searches for the smugglers.
Indian music plays during the smugglers' arrival at the airport in international prints; in the Hong Kong version, the title theme plays.
The international version includes the kidnapping of an Indian girl, which does not occur in the Hong Kong version.
The sequence with Zhiwu loitering outside his girlfriend's window appears earlier in international edit.
In the Hong Kong version, the Faye Wong cover of "Dreams" plays over the shot of 663 drinking coffee. The international version strips out the music (leaving only ambient noise), although "Dreams" still appears at the end of the film. The international cut is Wong's preferred version and has been used for most home video releases. The Hong Kong cut was released on VHS/laserdisc by World Video and on VHS/LD/DVD by Mei Ah.
Masterful Hong Kong film-maker Wong Kar Wai understands that love is about the unspoken moments between people, the hidden gestures betraying loneliness. Chungking Express is a unique expression of such notions of love. The film doesn't pretend that love is all-embracing and constant, in the way so many predictable films would suggest. Love, for the protagonists of this film, comes and goes between subtle glances - always elusive. Indeed if a level of contentment can be reached at all for these characters - it is a fleeting moment, a memory of a song, the way that somebody smells. There are so many essential moments in this film - when Dinah Washington's 'What a difference a day makes' plays over two lovers cavorting, the moments when characters talk to inanimate objects to overcome their loss of love, the brief glances between the second policeman and the waitress across the counter of the fast-food restaurant. It has been dismissed as an exercise in style over substance by many, mainly due to the hypnotic way in which the film is shot and the lack of a real story as such. I don't feel the need to defend it from these accusations because the beauty of the film is there on the screen and nothing I have said or could say could really do it justice. It breaks my heart every time.
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