Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chungking Express (1994)

Directed by: Wong Kar Wai
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Amazon: Chungking Express

Sadly, as of the time I'm writing this, the Criterion Collection copy is out of print, and it isn't streaming anywhere, hopefully only for the time being... although you can get a copy through the mail from Netflix or buy it from Amazon at the link above.

-Watch an introduction to the film by Quentin Tarantino at the end of this post.

As I mentioned earlier in my Ashes of Time post: After the long, tiring, painstaking 2 year shoot in the desert of China that was Ashes of Time, Wong Kar Wai needed to change things up, he was worried about the cashflow for his fledgling company Jet Tone productions, and decided it best to put Ashes of Time’s post production on hold in order to quickly churn out another story he’d had in the back of his mind. The shoot took less than three months and was released to appease the producers anxiously awaiting the finished product of Ashes of Time. The resulting film was Chungking Express.

It’s a film that is entertaining in its own right from the first viewing, but repeated viewings for lovers of the film will grant insight into what was a pleasantly deep and well thought out little film. My hope is to scratch the surface here.

To understand the film, and WKW we need to understand that Hong Kong is about as essential a character in the film as anyone else. People always talk about how important the city of New York is to Woody Allen and his work, it’s the same if not more so for WKW. In fact Hong Kong is tied to him and his work in a way that no other director is tied to any other city. My Blueberry Nights (shot in the US and in English) just didn’t translate well or work onscreen the way his other films did. WKW is simply at his best when working in Hong Kong. He understands the city, he’s comfortable there and something about it allows him to shine.

The title of the film is a two part title, which combines the names of the primary locations of the two distinct parts of the film. The first being Chungking Mansion, located in Tsim Sha Tsui (southern part of Kowloon, Hong Kong) it’s a place of many narrow winding corridors, small shops, restaurants and many low cost accommodations/hostels. It’s a gathering place for many of the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong due to those low cost accommodations. It's also a densely populated city within a city. It’s become quite a tourist attraction (no doubt in part due to the success of Chungking Express), but also because of its many ethnic restaurants and shops.

I've been to Chungking Mansion and surrounding it on the outside is dense city, but head inside and you’ll find a highly diverse and even sketchy looking indoor city. While a tourist can feel comfortable anywhere else in Hong Kong, it’s a little intimidating walking around Chungking Mansion. The tales of crime and misdeeds and the stares from eager would be businesses vying for your attention are a lot to take in. If you mention you’re there for an Indian food restaurant you’ll be swarmed with a mob of Indians (all of whom speak Cantonese and some English) trying to hand you leaflets of information about their restaurant. When you've finally made a decision it’s a little comical to see the rest back down as if a pouting puppy.  There was even a guard there ready to help anyone with questions, who would threaten them with a red card (soccer style) if they got too out of line.

According to Asian cinema critic Tony Rayns, who provided the rather interesting and informative commentary for the Criterion Collection release of the film, the location of the first half of the film is a bit of a biographical nod from WKW:

“He moved with his family from Shanghai to Hong Kong in 1963 (5 years old at the time), and he grew up in Tsim Sha Tsui which was not the sort of tourist central that it is now… The way he shot the film here, which reflects almost nothing of modern Hong Kong, there is almost no glimpses of the high tech, urban, futuristic Hong Kong that’s familiar from tourist brochures. He’s focused almost exclusively on old Hong Kong here, and I think that’s with a distinct nostalgic bent to it.”

In fact it’s possible that Chungking Mansion is one of the few places left that still provide that aura of old Hong Kong that WKW was truly looking for, for this particular story.

We can see WKW’s love of the 60’s in his musical choices as well, not just in this film, but across his filmography, and Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046, of course being set in the 60’s, display a love for old Hong Kong as well, the Hong Kong he grew up in.

However, most of the shooting actually took place at Mirador Mansion just down the road from Chungking Mansion (which is fairly similar), due to the fact that WKW couldn't get permission to shoot in Chungking Mansion.

Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong's own airline.
Speaking of which, he also wasn’t allowed to shoot in the old Kai Tak airport either (located in Kowloon, they never permitted any shooting there), seen with its old-timey departures board with its split flap display, white pillars and many orange ticket booths. It was used up until 1998, but certainly would now carry a nostalgic feeling of old Hong Kong for anyone watching the film today. (Google search Kai Tak airport and be in awe of all the old photographs of planes coming in for a landing seemingly right on top of buildings and citizens below.)


WKW's love of old Hong Kong is just part of a general fascination he has with time and the passage of time, which is why we see so many cutaways of old-timey, split flap display clocks ticking away (not to mention his film about the Ashes of Time). His fascination has more to do with memories and what we bury in the past (one of the major themes found in In the Mood for Love).

Chungking Mansion also, at least in fictional tales, carries a bit of a romanticized criminal element (if you’ll allow a geeky reference, you might think of it as something similar to the Cantina from Star Wars). WKW himself once said of the place:
“...it is a legendary place where the relations between the people are very complicated. It has always fascinated and intrigued me. It is also a permanent hotspot for the cops in HK because of the illegal traffic that takes place there. That mass-populated and hyperactive place is a great metaphor for the town herself."
Enter Brigitte Lin’s character, the blonde wig wearing member of a drug smuggling operation based out of Chungking Mansion. She never tells us her name, she is only known as the woman in the blonde wig. We, of course, find out that she wears the wig because she has some sort of relationship with the boss of the operation who is a “gwai lo.” (as the Chinese like to say it: literally meaning white foreign devil, although it’s become a slang way of referring to white folk to the point where people say it without necessarily intending to refer to its literal meaning) He, of course, has a thing for Asian women wearing blonde wigs.

That leads me to the other main character. The primary common thread across Chungking Express’ two distinct parts are the two lovelorn cops. The first being Qiwu (as stated in the subtitles or He Zhiwu if you go by IMDB), although he goes by badge number 223.

When asked about the fact that he only gave the main characters badge numbers for names, WKW mentioned that Hong Kong films are supposed to be action oriented stories about cops vs criminals, people expect it, so he made it about cops, but he also enjoys uniforms and service numbers hence the badge numbers.

He’s played by Kaneshiro Takeshi (obviously a Japanese name) an actor born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan to a Japanese father, and a Taiwanese mother, he speaks Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese and English, which is used for his character in the film. This gives us an indication of the spontaneity with which WKW made the film, allowing the actors real lives to become apart of the characters themselves. We can hear him speak in numerous different languages in the film, whether he's chatting on the phone to old girlfriends (rather desperately trying to get one to go out with him) or trying to introduce himself to Brigitte Lin's character.

Cop 223’s line about how you brush past people everyday, some you may never know and some might become your friend is echoed by Kaneshiro Takeshi’s character in WKW’s follow up Fallen Angels.

He has recently broken up with his girlfriend named May (we never actually meet her), and like a true hopeless romantic, he is desperately attempting to get over her by acquiring a new girlfriend with whom he can celebrate his upcoming 25th birthday.

The very sensible idea here for WKW is to pair one of his newcomers with a veteran/popular actor, that’s why we see Kaneshiro (in just his second film) playing opposite Lin (in her final film performance, in fact the last frame of her onscreen career was the freeze frame of her having ditched the blonde wig at the end of the first part), and in the second half Faye Wong (making her film debut, just as Lin exits a career in film with a freeze frame, Faye Wong begins what would be a very short lived career in film being introduced by a freeze frame) playing opposite Tony Leung. A clever way to honor both actresses marking an important time in their careers, and one that fits perfectly with the natural progression of the stories.

The film intercuts back and forth between the two characters on opposite sides of the law, but they never really cross paths as cop and criminal. Rather, cop 223 and Blondie (for lack of a better way to refer to Brigitte Lin’s character and a reference to Fallen Angels) cross paths for a different reason. She’s trying to lay low after the boss of the drug smuggling ring sets her up (by having all the Indians run away with her drugs, and threatening her if she doesn't get it all back), and Cop 223 is attempting to hook up with the first girl he sees while at a bar the night before his 25th birthday and the expiration of his relationship with May.

Which leads me to the idea of expiration dates that the first half of the film is so fascinated by. May broke up with Cop 223 on April fool’s day so he isn't sure whether to take her seriously or not. He gives her one month to decide. If by May 1st (note the poetic irony that he’s waiting on both May the person and May the month), which also happens to be his 25th birthday, she hasn't come back to him, he’ll move on. A clean start (either with May or someone else) to his 25th year.


To help him keep track of this countdown he buys one can of pineapple (May’s favorite fruit) everyday that is dated to expire on May 1st. As the days pass and the end of the month draws closer he gets more sensitive about the expiring food, as if it truly represents his expiring relationship. It begins to bother him that no one wants expiring goods, even arguing with a convenience store clerk about them.

On the last day of the month he eats all 30 cans, as if trying to enjoy what’s left of the relationship before it’s truly gone. Of course, the result of eating all the old pineapple is that he becomes sick and throws it all back up, the significance being that he can’t force it to stay in his life. With the pineapple representing his relationship with May, the obvious symbolism is that by throwing it up he’s evacuating what’s left of the relationship from his body.

Blondie (Brigitte Lin) however, after the Indians ran away with her drugs (and therefore money) is given a can of sardines set to expire on May 1st as an indication of how long she has to track down the drugs.

By the way, the bar the boss stays in, and Blondie frequents (that has the interesting looking jukebox) was actually a gay bar in Hong Kong, but WKW wanted to use it simply because it had a retro look to it, which was in keeping with his old Hong Kong look we've already mentioned.

"There are bad times, and good times too."
Speaking of the jukebox, I also want to talk about the recurring musical themes. In the first half of the film the recurring (theme) song played is Dennis Brown’s “Things in Life.” The opening line of which is, “It’s not everyday we’re gonna be the same way, there must be a change somehow.” Which explains where both of these characters are at in life, in need of a change or going through a change whether they like it or not. (Also, I really love the soundtrack!)

WKW had been reading a lot of the famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami (who I also am a big fan of), and the theme of Cop 223 buying cans of pineapple to keep track of his relationship’s expiration date (among other characterizations) is a very Murakamiesque sort of idea. Having, myself read a good number of Murakami's novels I would say Cop 223, particularly in his moments spent alone and the inner monologues/voice-overs he provide are very much like reading a Murakami novel. There are very similar types of characters found in Murakami's stories. To honor his influence, WKW named one of the musical tracks from the soundtrack “Entering the Hardboiled Wonderland,” after Murakami’s novelHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” (which I’ve read and it’s very good, also WKW had been reading it around that time).





Speaking on the subject, I’ll again refer to Tony Rayn’s commentary,

“While Wong reads a great deal, and many of his ideas are sparked by things he’s read, he claims he doesn’t feel that particularly close to Murakami but he does feel that they are a part of the same generation, they are about the same age, they both grew up very aware of what he calls “7th fleet culture,” which means that they were very aware of the American military presence in their parts of the world as they were growing up. And that helped define their ideas on pop culture and their emerging national cultures. In this particular case, some of the quirkiness of the voice-overs and the dialogue very closely reflects things that WKW found in Murakami’s fiction.”

WKW once said of the use of voice-overs in his films, that he thinks people are far more likely to talk to themselves than to other people. I find that perhaps the most beautifully simple, unique and likely true explanations for the use of voice-over. In this particular case it makes perfect sense, due to the fact that all characters are lonely and dealing with their own inner thoughts, ideas and dreams entirely on their own. The way he uses them is a little bit different than most, and it allows him (much like a novel writer) to communicate complex thoughts, ideas and feelings that help build his characters.

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Toward the end of the first half of the film things start slowing down. Earlier on the film is done in quick shots, and all the characters tend to be by themselves.  What's become WKW's trademark frenetic action with almost strobe-like editing was WKW's attempt to innovate visually. He studied graphic design, and has always tried to do unique things visually, and many have been inspired by his work and attempted to replicate the things he's done (particularly that of In the Mood For Love, one of his prettiest films to look at).  However, once Cop 223 and Blondie finally meet, this rapid cutting slows down, which helps set a slower pace for the second part.


After meeting at a different bar, Blondie (still laying low) spends the night with Cop 223 in a hotel, where sex is likely on their minds (certainly on Cop 223’s mind), but nothing sexual happens, which speaks to the purity of Cop 223. Instead he stays up eating food and watching old movies all night (perhaps still not wanting to let go of the night and accept the morning of his new single life) we get the sense that he enjoys the fact that there is someone else there to keep him company (even though she's asleep). As with most WKW films, these are all lonely people.

He goes jogging in the morning to mark the occasion of his quarter century spent living. To him, jogging is an activity to be done after a breakup because it makes the body lose water quickly, which in theory, leaves less for crying. After receiving a message from Blondie wishing him a happy birthday he finally seems happy and perhaps ready to move on.

His line toward the end of the first half about how if memories were able to be stored in a can he wishes their shelf life would last 10,000 years (or in other words forever) is so famous it was comically used in the Stephen Chow parody Chinese Odyssey films (part one and two) based on the famous Chinese story Journey to the West (which includes the Monkey King). It was written and directed by Jeffrey Lau who produced a number of WKW’s films including Chungking Express, and helped co-write As Tears Go By.

Throughout the first half of the film, intercut into all the action were quick glimpses of the second half of the film. You’ll notice 3 quick vignettes: one of the stewardess who is the ex-girlfriend of Cop 663, one of Cop 663 (Tony Leung) resting on a handrail, and finally one of Faye (Faye Wong) walking out of a store carrying a large stuffed animal Garfield (which we will see later on in the film).

All of these little touches, these glances at characters from the second half of the film is meant to indicate to us that these two separate stories are happening at the same time. These people exist in the same city, and although their stories are clear cut into two distinctly different parts, we are to understand that they are happening at the same time.

At this point there is a quick scene in which Cop 223 and Faye Wong’s character (known as Faye) bump into each other and the film nearly literally hands off to the second part.

I should mention that the first half of the film was shot by cinematographer Andrew Lau (who worked on As Tears Go By, and became a director himself famous for Infernal Affairs, which was later remade in America by Martin Scorsese as The Departed). The second half of the film was shot by Australian cinematographer living in Hong Kong (and frequent collaborator with WKW) Christopher Doyle.
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The second part takes place mostly in Central, at a snack food place called Midnight Express. Where the title gets the second part of its name. At least somewhat similarly to the first part, this second story also involves a Cop and a criminal, although Faye’s only technically a criminal. As Landon Palmer of Filmschoolrejects points out:

“Faye is given the most lively, eccentric personality in the film. Her endearingly odd dreamer is the film’s most active character, yet paradoxically she is given a mystery more complex than the woman in the Blonde Wig as her puzzling actions are dispossessed of a clear motivation or consistent psychology. Yet the only thing to understand about her could be simply the fact that she is a fast food cook looking for a way to make her mundane life exciting, even if that means staging the cutest criminal acts of breaking-and-entering ever manifested onscreen.”


I agree with some of his thoughts, however I don't think that her actions are completely without motivation or consistent psychology.  It all has to do with WKW's theme of routines and in her case the breaking of those routines.

For her, the job is something to pass the time and save some money on her way to California, and thematically going to Cop 663’s apartment is a breaking of her routine which in turn forces change and does induce some excitement into her mundane life, and by extension Cop 663’s. She is also a free spirit, so her doing things that may not make logical sense on the surface actually fits with her character.  That free, fun loving side of her, criminal or not, makes her a stark contrast to Brigitte Lin’s more serious, hard-boiled criminal.

The scenes of Faye trying to entertain herself by dancing to music while she works her menial food service job have become iconic in Asian film, so much so that even WKW and Kaneshiro Takeshi themselves parody it in his follow up Fallen Angels (which notably is meant to be part 3 of Chungking Express but all these different parts became long enough that he was able to turn them into two separate films).

From the very opening of the second half of the film, when Cop 663 and Faye first meet, the (theme) song of the second half is playing.  It’s, of course, “California Dreaming” by The Mammas and The Pappas. It’s also in keeping with his idea of theme songs presented in the first half, played over and over again throughout the second part.

It’s Faye’s favorite song, not just because it’s a decent song to dance to while she works, but also because it reminds her that she is working there only to save money for her dream of moving to California.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning, at the time of this films release (1994) it was just 3 years away from Hong Kong’s return to China from British rule, and at the time this worried many of the people from Hong Kong. There was a sense of fear, and even paranoia at what would happen once they fell back under China's sovereignty. So the idea of moving/emigrating to places such as Canada, Australia, and even the US carried resonance with the people of Hong Kong at the time. Although it's not really a theme within the film, it was very much in the public’s consciousness.

Another song we hear twice in the second part film is Dinah Washington’s “What a Difference and Day Makes,” which was the background music for a Pan Am commercial when WKW was a kid, so the song, in his mind is irretrievably tied to airlines and flights. The two times the song plays it's accompanied by a lot of imagery tied to airlines, be it planes, stewardess uniforms, luggage pulled on little wheels, and boarding passes. The first time is a scene in which Cop 663 and his stewardess girlfriend play around and eventually make love, and Cop 663 is playing with little model airplanes before and after. The second time the song plays isn't until toward the end of the film, when Cop 663 finally asks Faye out on a date, and it foreshadows her eventual flight to California and her future career as an airline stewardess. However there is more to these theme songs that I’ll get into in a moment.

When Cop 663 is at his apartment alone, he has a somewhat different way of dealing with his grief than Cop 223. Rather than eating pineapple or setting an expiration date, he chats with the inanimate objects left behind by his ex, from rags, and bars of soap to stuffed animals. All of which, in time, Faye will eventually replace. The parallel here is that Cop 223 mentions that he can’t get his dog to share in his grief (the dog won’t eat any of the pineapple), but Cop 663 transfers his grief onto the inanimate objects left behind, and instead comforts them.


In order to get Faye Wong Cop 663’s keys and address, so she can begin her new routine of breaking-and-entering, WKW very skillfully writes different interactions that provide her a way in, at the same time being careful to not make her seem creepy. She did not go out of her way to acquire them, WKW took special care to write it in such a way that both the keys and his address fell fairly harmlessly into her lap, and Cop 663 even invites her to drop by, she just happens to drop by when he’s not around.  Of course, she likes him, and is also interested in helping him out, knowing he's heartbroken, so clearly there is some sort of method to her madness.

She finds him one day at another food vendor and he helps her carry her heavy load of groceries back to the Midnight Express, in a scene that echoes the one in As Tears Go By where Andy Lau’s character carries a heavy box for Maggie Cheung back to her place of work.

Faye runs into him, routinely, at this other food vendor and “checks in” on him, partly because she misses him, and partly because she wants to make sure he’s out of his apartment before she goes there.

Faye invades his home and cleans up for him, essentially looking out for him, again, because she knows he’s heartbroken. She puts something in his water bottle to help him sleep, because he’s always coming by to drink coffee. We aren't sure whether it’s her goal to remove the previous girlfriend from his life, by removing all the belongings she’s left behind just for the sake of helping him move on, or whether she is trying to insert herself in that role by replacing all the old stuff with new stuff that she picked out. Perhaps it’s a bit of both, as she does eventually become a stewardess and as far as we can tell his girlfriend (it's left a little ambiguous). In a bit of foreshadowing, during the montage of her in his apartment she puts on the stewardess uniform just to try it on. WKW is hinting at where her life will go.
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Christopher Doyle the Cinematographer, who I mentioned had been living in Hong Kong at the time, offered up his apartment as a place for them to shoot what was Cop 663’s apartment.

The song that plays during the montage of her redecorating/cleaning this apartment is sung by Faye Wong herself. It’s a Cantonese cover of the Cranberries song “Dreams”(available in the YouTube playlist above).  Faye Wong is a very famous (even legendary) singer in Asia. In fact, her wikipedia page states that she was recognized by Guinness World records as the best selling Canto-pop female artist of all time. In addition to the cover of the Cranberries song, she’s also known for her covers of several Cocteau Twins songs. In fact many Asian actors began as singer/songwriters who eventually crossed over into film. Even Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Leslie Cheung, Karen Mok and Kaneshiro Takeshi, all of whom have appeared in WKW films, have had (or still have) singing careers.
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As I mentioned before WKW has a fascination with time, and in the second half of the film he gives us three very artfully done expansions/manipulations of time in which we see two different speeds of time existing within the same frame. One while Faye waits for Cop 663, who is alone in his thoughts, to finish his coffee and we wait to see if he’ll take the letter left to him by the stewardess; another while he waits for Faye to show up at the California restaurant; and finally another while Faye sits at the California before Cop 663 arrived, in the final moments before she decides to leave for California.

One of the brilliant touches WKW put in the film is again tied to the musical themes of the film. We've already associated “California Dreaming” to Faye Wong at the Midnight Express. We've also already associated “What a Difference a Day Makes” to Cop 663 in his apartment. By the end of the film the two characters have swapped songs, granted that has as much to do with Faye invading his home as it does with anything else, until we hear “What a Difference a Day Makes” being played at the Midnight Express. It would indicate that Cop 663 has let go of his past relationship and is ready for a new relationship with the girl tied to that song, and his theme song has relocated to the Midnight Express which he will own and work at by the end of the film as if he’s heading home. However, sadly Faye has come to a point where she will transition into the stewardess. She is finally ready to give California a chance. She had been planning her move to California for so long, it makes sense for this dreamer to at least give it a shot before starting a new relationship.  Also, since she becomes an airline stewardess, the lyrics and our association with the song makes “What a Difference a Day Makes” fit her, and now for him if she’s away in California, "California Dreaming" also fits perfectly for him.

Toward the end of the film, supposedly after a year in which Faye has spent in California and become an airline pilot, she returns to find that Cop 663 is no longer a Cop and has bought the Midnight Express from her cousin. During this scene Tony Rayn’s so cleverly observed that this final scene is a perfect inversion of the scene in which these two characters met. I’ll add that instead she’s the one wearing a uniform, he’s working at the Midnight Express, and they can’t hear each other over the blaring of the song "California Dreaming."

“It’s a measure of the film’s wit that the scene is brought off so effortlessly. But it also has larger implications… the world turns, time passes, things change but fundamentally nothing changes. The same basic situations apply, and they have pretty much the same basic effect, and the same basic uncertainties affect human relationships, which is afterall the film’s central concern.”


The film is worth repeat viewings just see how Wong Kar Wai masterfully navigates back and forth from character to character and manages to weave the stories together, and then bridge them to a handoff from the first part to the second. It’s fascinating to try to pick out all the parallels that link the two separate stories together. Take for instance these parallels: both Cops frequent the Midnight Express, enjoy chef's salad, and receive relationship advice from the owner; the storylines involve two Cops, two criminals, and scenes in which the cop and the criminal end up in a room together where sex is implied, but instead they fall asleep. 

WKW is fascinated by the mundane details, and repetitions in routine that fill our lives. Perhaps it goes back to his fascination with the passage of time and memories. With this film WKW was fascinated by the theme of routine and how it expresses or explains the way we live our lives, and how we cannot break free of the vices in our lives, the things that we obsess over and ultimately trap us. A feeling that is captured in the shots I've already mentioned where a character sits in slow motion, while the world and, of course, time itself rushes past them.

In the end I find myself as drawn to even these mundane routine events in his character’s lives as I am to the beautiful cinematography on display in both the first and second half of the film. Something about these lonely characters going about their daily lives with similar hopes and fears to my own allows me to connect to his films in a very deep way.

However, it’s the characters attempts at breaking their routine that give the film an energy and overall sense of spontaneity that none of his other films other than Fallen Angels really hit again. All of his other films have been slower shoots involving much more careful planning. Chungking Express is often compared to Goddard films like Breathless in the way it inspired so many filmmakers and really set the tone for a new wave within their respective film cultures. It also features relative newcomers to screen acting and a prominent, free-spirited, female character who is just so pure that even though they are somewhat on the wrong side of the law we can't help but root for them.  Oh, and they both sport a short hair cut that became a popular style after people fell in love with their respective films (just to name a few similarities).

After the unexpected success of this film WKW’s name came with a certain expectation, and an expectation he’s always tried to live up to. Chungking Express marks the one divergent film in his career that happily turned out to be one of his most successful. He never made a film in this way before, and he’s never made one this way since. As such, Chungking Express is a special film not just as a time stamp on the 90’s or a cultural piece for Hong Kong, but for the filmmaker himself. Indeed his fascination with time and how memories become trapped away in time without ever being able to return to them or relive them turns out to be a metaphor for his very own film. It was an experiment in a time of financial need for his company that worked out and gave WKW the fuel needed to continue making films, while making a name for himself at the same time. Chungking Express will stand on its own, a standout in a standout career.

EXTRA:

The film was first released internationally and it did very well.  People took notice.  Even Quinton Tarantino took notice of the film and persuaded Harvey Weinstein to buy it for his sub label of Miramax called Rolling Thunder (their logo is present at the beginning of my Criterion Bluray copy of the film). This video is the short introduction (and chat after the film's end) about the movie and some of its background.