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Chungking Express

Chungking Express is a 1994 Hong Kong movie written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Kaneshiro Takeshi, Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Wong Faye. Its original Chinese title is Chongqing Senlin, meaning "Forest of Chungking".

Table of contents
1 Plot outline
2 Analysis
3 Miscellaneous

Plot outline

Wong Kar-Wai's movie is about two love-struck cops: The first is the Taiwanese-born Cop 223 (Ah Wu, played by Kaneshiro; "Wu" is the Chinese pronunciation of the Japanese "Takeshi"), who has broken up with his girlfriend May. Every day he purchases a tin of pineapples with an expiration date of May 1st. By the end of that time, he feels that he will either be rejoined with his love or that it will have expired forever. The second is Cop 663 (Leung), who is dealing with his breakup from a flight attendant (Valerie Chow). He meets a new girl (Wong) at a local lunch counter, who breaks into his apartment during the day to redecorate.


Both stories, about disconnections, loneliness and being alone in the vast city, are photographed by Wong's longtime collaborator Christopher Doyle in the style of a music video, leaving impressions of movies from Jean-Luc Godard (signs, slogans, pop music) and from John Cassavetes (improvised dialogue and situations).

Some critics, among them M. A. Abbas, have likened the motif of expiration dates to the immanence of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China (May 1st being, among other things, May Day).


The first part of the movie is largely set in the Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.

It was reported that Quentin Tarantino, whose Pulp Fiction won the 1994 Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or, thus overshadowing the release of Chungking Express, liked the movie so much that he decided to promote it. In fact, some video editions of Chungking Express feature a presentation of the movie by Tarantino himself.

Wong Faye's Chinese version of The Cranberries' "Dreams" is played several times in the movie. Also, because "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas & the Papas was Wong's character's favourite song, it was played extensively as well, causing some viewers to find it repetitive and others to view it as an euphonious theme song.

See also: Cinema of China, Hong Kong in films