Film / Chungking Express

That was the closest we ever got — just 0.01 cm between us. Fifty seven hours later, I fell in love with this woman.

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. Essentially, each plot follows a Hong Kong cop, and his strange romance with a woman they've just met, but the two ultimately differ in tone and conclusion. Arguably, rather than trying to tell a story, it is a depiction of the cramped, hectic, neurosis inducing, but strangely exciting contemporary life in the city.

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.
  • Cringe Comedy: Qiwu's attempts to pick up women.
  • 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!"
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Cop #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": Cop #663 is only known by his badge number. (Cop #223 introduces himself at the beginning as He Qiwu.)
  • Femme Fatale: Brigitte Lin's character.
  • Fetish: Cop #663 has a thing for air hostesses.
  • Genre Shift: It starts as an urban thriller and turns into a romantic comedy.
  • Girl Next Door: Faye.
  • Halfway Plot Switch
  • Heartbreak and Ananas
  • 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 Cop #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, 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.