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Film: Chungking Express

This is the kind of movie you'll relate to if you love film itself, rather than its surface aspects such as story and stars.

Chungking Express (重慶森林) is a movie directed by Wong Kar Wai and released in 1994. Quentin Tarantino loved it so much that he signed a deal with Miramax to start his own releasing company specifically to distribute the movie in the US.

The movie can't be easily summarized, if only because it starts with one story, which it abandons on the way to continue with another. Arguably, rather than having a plot, it is a depiction of the cramped, hectic, neurosis-inducing but strangely exciting life in contemporary Hong Kong.


Contains examples of:

  • Big Eater: The first cop eats his way through 30 cans of pineapple to get over his ex, and then several plates of miscellaneous food when Brigitte Lin is sleeping.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Faye.
  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It: When the first cop, who has been collecting pineapple cans with a May 1 peremption date in memory of his girlfriend dumping him, tries to give one to a beggar on the night of April 30, the beggar lobs it back at him. "It's past its sell-by date! you keep it!"
  • The Danza: Faye Wong as Faye.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: 223 can't take a hint if his life depended on it.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Faye's short hair has grown long when she returns as a stewardess.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Policeman 663 is only known by his badge number. (223 introduces himself at the beginning as He Qiwu.)
  • Fetish: Policeman 663 has a thing for air hostesses.
  • Femme Fatale: Brigitte Lin's character.
  • Genre Shift: It starts as an urban thriller and turns into a romantic comedy.
  • Girl Next Door: Faye.
  • Halfway Plot Switch
  • Hong Kong: Arguably the main character of the movie is the city itself.
  • Indy Ploy: The Brigitte Lin character stages an impromptu kidnapping to get some information.
  • Left the Background Music On: The first usage of "California Dreamin'," and the second usage of "What a Difference a Day Made."
  • Local Hangout: Both cops get their snacks and coffee at a local pit stop called the Midnight Express. It's the setting for much of the movie.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: We first see Faye from behind and the cop assumes she is a man because of her short hair.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Faye. Childlike, wacky mannerisms? Check. Idealistic and free-spirited to cop #663's broken heart and outward stuffed shirt? Check. Tendency towards petty crime? Check. Amazingly cute? Very much check.
  • Maybe Ever After: Brigitte Lin's character and the first cop. We never find out if they got anywhere but our last impression of Brigitte Lin is her wishing him a happy birthday over the answering machine - perhaps she was warming to him?
  • No Name Given: We never learn the name of Brigitte Lin's character, or as mentioned, cop #663.
  • Sexy Stewardess: The second cop's former girlfriend. His next girlfriend emulates her and becomes one as well.
    • In a flashback scene, we see his then-girlfriend do her safety instruction routine over the usual voice recording ("emergency exits are located at the front and back..."), while at his place and with her top off. It's an obvious turn-on for him.
  • Shipper on Deck: The store manager gives people advice about their love lives, and even hustles all the other employees away when #663 approaches so Faye will be alone with him.
  • Sleep Cute: Cop 633 and Faye.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Faye steals the second cop's house keys and sneaks into his flat. She makes a habit of moving his stuff around and buying him new things just to see whether he'll notice. She also inspects his bed with a magnifying glass for evidence of sexual activity.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Brigitte Lin's character.
  • Train Escape: Brigitte Lin's character, as she's being chased by vengeful drug dealers.
  • Tsundere: Faye is a Type A for Cop 633.
  • Word Salad Title: The title blends together the name of Chungking Mansions, a cheap apartment complex in Kowloon, and that of the Midnight Express pit stop.


City HunterHong Kong FilmsDays of Being Wild
Chasing AmyCreator/The Criterion CollectionCitizen Kane

alternative title(s): Chungking Express
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