Chungking Express, while released in 1994 in its native Hong Kong, received a limited theatrical run in North America in 1996—courtesy of Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder. The imprint’s subsequent DVD features bookmark-commentary vignettes by Tarantino discussing Wong Kar-wai’s body of work. Criterion Collection reissued Chungking Express film to DVD in 2008, but the Tarantino accouterments are not included.
The story concerns the love and loss of two Hong Kong Policemen: “Cop 223” (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and “Cop 663” (Tony Leung). In the first tale, Kaneshiro’s obsession over his recent breakup leads to his romantic involvement with a drug smuggler. In the second tale, Leung deals with the breakup of his flight attendant girlfriend and he begins to travel the wrong path. Both are linked by their mutual relationship with Faye (played by the “Heavenly Queen” of Chinese/Canto-pop, Faye Wong) who works at the Midnight Express food stand.
In collaboration with the Criterion Collection, Wong Kar-wai and L’Immagine Ritrovata spent five years on the 4K restoration of a newly released version of Chunking Express—as well as Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels, Happy Together, and In the Mood for Love. Sony Classics also assisted in L’Immagine Ritrovata’s restoration of Kar-wai’s 2046.
It was an honor for Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney—the hosts of the Ireland-based film blog, The Movie Blog—in crediting B&S About Movies (out of Pittsburgh, natch) with our “Exploring: The 8 Films of Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Films” as a resource in their review Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000). While we have not reviewed that film from the Kar-Wai canons, we did review Onna No Kappa (2011).
Tony Leung and Faye Wong also star in Chinese Odyssey 2002, which was produced by Wong Kar-wai. He’s currently in production on a sequel to Chunking Express: Chunking Express 2020.
As for the original Chunking Express. Watch it. Then watch it again. It’s perfection. Well, why listen to me, let the Q tell it. He’ll do it a hell of a lot better than I can. I know when to step aside for a fellow ex-video store jockey.