Chungking Express

1996

Chungking Express

Critics Consensus

Even if all it had to offer were writer-director Wong Kar-wai's thrillingly distinctive visuals, Chungking Express would be well worth watching; happily, its thoughtfully drawn characters and naturalistic performances also pack a potent dramatic wallop.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 55

94%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,636
User image

Chungking Express Photos

Movie Info

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.

Cast

Takeshi Kaneshiro
as He Quiwu, Cop 223
Brigitte Lin
as Drug Dealer
Valerie Chow
as Air Hostess
'Piggy' Chan
as Manager of `Midnight Express'
Guan Lina
as Richard
Liang Zhen
as The 2nd May
View All

Critic Reviews for Chungking Express

All Critics (55) | Top Critics (18)

  • I've never been a big fan of technique that calls attention to itself, but Wong's frenetic blend of slow motion, pixilation, rushing backgrounds and frozen foregrounds (or vice versa) is as integral to this movie as its bubbly story and characters.

    May 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • [Wong's] hypnotic images of love and loss finally wear down your resistance as seemingly discordant sights and sounds coalesce into a radiant, crazy quilt.

    May 28, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Chungking Express is a breezy little Hong Kong movie that has more life, energy, humanity and sheer visual zing than most other shows you'll see in a month or so.

    May 28, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Dull it is not, but Wong's trademark sense of romantic melancholy fails to jell amid all the excess.

    May 28, 2014 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • It's the cinematic equivalent of popcorn on a hot stove with jump-cut shots, freeze frames, stirringly beautiful images and boundless energy.

    May 28, 2014
  • A lyrical and delightfully goofy study in romantic longing.

    May 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Chungking Express

  • Mar 27, 2013
    In the same year that Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" has unexpectedly revolutionized an entire film culture, a film entitled "Chungking Express", directed by one of Tarantino's film heroes, Wong Kar-wai, came forth with a similarly unique visual flair but on a wholly different emotional scale, and the rest, folks, is cinema history. With an imagery that resembles that of paintings created by the most turbulent-minded of artists and with an emotional center that seems so innocent yet so knowing, the film is a stimulating reminder of how nice it is to live and, more importantly, to love. Well, and also maybe some hints of how lovely it really is to eat (the film, after all, is filled with endless shots of food). Shot mostly within the confines of a cheap but suggestively lucrative lunch shack named "Midnight Express", the film chronicles, in achingly beautiful sounds and colors, the story of two lovelorn police officers, Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), and how they painfully (and humorously) cope up with their romantic grief via their own personal idiosyncrasies. The first, a mid-twenties officer, is so pained by the estrangement of a certain girlfriend named May that he decides to buy a can of pineapple every single night until it piles up to 30. But the catch is that he only buys the ones that have an expiry date of May 1 (his birthday) so that when the said date finally comes and 'May' is still not back in his arms, it's only then that he can arrive at the conclusion that she really doesn't want him anymore, and that those fast-expiring pineapples need some desperate eating. The second one, an officer literally living beside the airport, is silently devastated when her stewardess of a girlfriend has suddenly left him alone, needy and slightly schizophrenic, as he begins to talk to his stuff toys, console his towels and scold his soaps, among others. But with utter disconnect, naturally, also comes a chance to connect anew. First, there's the mysterious, blond-wigged woman (Brigitte Lin), possibly a high-class low-life who has caught 223's love-hungry eyes. And then there's the infinitely quirkier Faye (Faye Wong), a short-haired young woman who's got this idiosyncratic affinity with the song "California Dreamin'". By emotionally patching these characters together to cope up with an increasingly apathetic Metropolitan existence with all their personal frustrations, vulnerabilities and imperfections intact, Wong Kar-wai has cleverly toned down "Chungking Express'" potentially overbearing angle on love to the point that the film itself is not anymore a dual tale of love but simply, in itself, a mere cinematic slice of life. Well, granted, a more stylized version of life, that is, but still, with Wong Kar-wai's wisely organic yet weirdly fascinating approach on characterization and his purely artistic sensibility of merging his sometimes frantic but often times observant imagery with stirring music to create an audiovisual kaleidoscope, "Chungking Express" has attained a cinematic form that is wholly its own. Is the film a romantic fare? Sure, but it has something more to say than that. Is the film, then, an existential feature? Perhaps, but the film evokes so much joy and naïve wonder that problems of existence just cannot seem to feign its enthusiasm and vigor for life (and love) at all. With those certain indecisions about the film's real categorization, I think it's more than safe to assume that "Chungking Express", in the process, has created a new, specific type of cinematic language, specifically on how it has meandered and reflected on the qualms of love and life yet preserves its pristine affinity to just breathe, hope and desire. If "Chungking Express'" main intent is to shake me out of my apathy and convince me into wandering the streets of wherever to search for a person who may or may not repay the love that I may offer, then the film has failed. The film, after all, is never an operational 'how to' guide on finding a lost soul to connect to. Instead, it is, more significantly, a film that shows the leaps and bounds of how a certain love is lost and once again found; of a life merely wasted and a life well-lived. "Chungking Express" is just a reminder of how beautiful and reassuring it is to know that in every stream of people you may come across, there's always that one person who may just return your smile with an even bigger, more luminescent one. And better yet, there may also be that someone who may just go their way to draw you a crude boarding pass that may bring you somewhere worthwhile. "Chungking Express", with its one-of-a-kind cinematic approach, is more concerned, in the context of love and existence, on how to say things rather than what to say, how to feel than what to feel, and how to properly enunciate emotions rather than how to choose the right words for it. And for that, I fully commend it. Only few films can make you feel so alive, and only few films, simply put, can make you feel very fortunate of having seen them. This counts as one, and I hope that its ability to make people feel may last more than 223's pineapples.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2012
    Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express is a "feeling" film that will probably do many things to your body and mind. It will make you fall in love not only with Faye Wong's character (named Faye, ironically enough), but also with the song "California Dreamin", which is essentially the film's theme song. It is colorful, musical, magical; everything I look for in a motion picture. It's never boring and envelopes us in its characters. It's my first Kar-Wai film and most certainly not my last. A true find.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 03, 2012
    A movie for people who love movies and all its possibilities. Kinda like a French New Wave film, but Chinese, and in the 90's.
    Hugo S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 21, 2012
    I woke up the next morning after seeing this film with big, stargazing smile. The story at first may just seem sketched and brightly symbolic, but as I think about it more and more the stories are so rich with emotion, the film is a living thing with a throbbing heartbeat. But the story isn't the best thing about this film, the blood in the veins of the movie is the cinematography and direction. Not to sound pretentious, but this truly is one of those films that you can call poetic; every still of the film can be placed in an art gallery. Its weaving style was like Terrance Mallick on acid, so it has all his beauty but without the unrelenting slow pace. I would most definitely watch this film on a Sunday evening if you want to have a good week and I will also be watching it again pretty soon coz I saw know it will be more rewarding on my second watch. I will be seeking out more Kar Wai Wong films asap.
    Hassan V Super Reviewer

Chungking Express Quotes

News & Features