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Chungking Express (The Criterion Collection)

4.4 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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(Nov 25, 2008)
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The Criterion Collection

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The whiplash, double-pronged Chungking Express is one of the defining works of nineties cinema and the film that made Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai an instant icon. Two heartsick Hong Kong cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung), both jilted by ex-lovers, cross paths at the Midnight Express take-out restaurant stand, where the ethereal pixie waitress Faye (Faye Wong) works. Anything goes in Wong s gloriously shot and utterly unexpected charmer, which cemented the sex appeal of its gorgeous stars and forever turned canned pineapple and the Mamas and the Papas California Dreamin into tokens of romantic longing.

New, restored high-definition digital transfer
Remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack supervised by director
Wong Kar-wai
Audio commentary by noted Asian cinema critic Tony Rayns
U.S. theatrical trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Amy Taubin and excerpts from a 1996 Sight and Sound interview with Wong by Rayns


What Godard movies were once like: fast, handheld, funny and very, very catchy. --Time Out London

Intoxicating and irresistible. --Washington Post

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong
  • Directors: Wong Kar-Wai
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001EOQCK8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,610 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chungking Express (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By [KNDY] Dennis A. Amith TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 1, 2009
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I really love this film. "CHUNGKING EXPRESS" is the ultimate pop art film that won a lot hearts when it was first released and continues to this day. And not only has the film jumpstarted the film careers of Wong Kar-wai, Christopher Doyle, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Faye Wong (despite having an awesome music career), "CHUNGKING EXPRESS" is one of those non-action Asian films that has continued to become a fan favorite for fans all over the world.

This film is now part of the Criterion Collection and when Criterion's name is on a film release, you know that you're going to get a quality release.
So, what did Criterion do for this release?


Criterion is known to making their final masters to what the director's had in mind. In this case, presenting the director's requested aspect ratio of 1:66:1.

The new high definition transfer according to Criterion was created on a Spirit 2K Datacine from a 35 mm internegative and a 35 mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System and Pixel Farm's PF Clean. For a film that is nearly 15 years old, the goal for Criterion was not to give a crisp and clear picture but to make sure that the requested aspect ratio was successful and removing all the dirt and scratches that have plagued previous releases of the film.

Oh, and I just have to say that things that were cut out of the US VHS/DVD release are intact in this Blu-ray version. But as far as video quality goes, you will find the colors noticeable especially at the bar when you see the CD's in the jukebox spin and see the vibrant colors.

I have caught a few instances of color pulsing (due to the older print) and there were no artifacting.
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Format: DVD
Like a sweet dream half-remembered, "Chungking Express" wavers on the back of your consciousness, seducing you into its semi-fantasy/semi-honest world of the chance of romance, and the necessity of proximity (0.01 of a centimeter is the distance of attraction) to filling an empty heart. It is appropriate that "California Dreaming" is the background for much of the film, because dreaming is what the characters do, moving sluggishly through a life not quite real.

It is difficult to know what to make of the film at first. There are two stories, interspersed with each other in through the film, both love stories involving policemen, a deli shop, and women whom they would love. Unlike "Pulp Fiction," they do not meet up at the end, and the strangers remain strangers. There is no neat package. Rather, like Banana Yoshimoto's novels, they are linked thematically, with the same tale being told with different cast members, to see how each person finds their own ending, regardless of the beginning. While Yoshimoto is Japanese, and Kar Wai is Chinese, there is a similarity in Asian story-telling evident in "Chungking Express."

As to this DVD, while it is great to see Quentin Tarantino bring Kar Wai's films to a wider audience, I find his commentary a bit annoying and self-serving. Taratino makes some great flicks, and Kar Wai is an obvious influence on him, but he doesn't have the personality to comment on something so sweet and subtle as "Chungking Express." This is just a personal observation, however, and others may disagree.

Director Kar Wai Wong is a rising star of cinema, seeping to the public consciousness slowly and surely, becoming less of a "Hong Kong Director" and more of an important contributor to modern film.
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Format: DVD
Located in the heart of mainland Hong Kong, the Chungking Mansions loom huge and ramshackle over Nathan Road. Wags and scoundrels haunt its gates, along with a ragged assortment of Indian touts, whores and long-term transient workers from Africa. Restaurants, tailors, psychics and a whole host of other occupations - some undoubtably illegal - infest the bottom floors in tiny, grimy compartments. Chungking is also the backpacker ghetto of Kowloon: guesthouses offer rooms as cheap as $10 a night, and the loose, chaotic atmosphere is appealing to the more adventurous traveler. When I visited Hong Kong for a week in 2002, there was no other realistic option, for finance concerns and the `lust for life' drive, than the infamous Chungking: intrigue seemed to lurk around every corner. While staying there, my guesthouse manager suggested I rent and watch the *Chungking Express*, a 1994 film by Won Kar Wai, loosely connected around the building. I never got around to it...until three years later...and in a way I'm glad I waited to watch this delicious romp about love, obsession and betrayal, for it sparked the nostalgia cylinders and left me in that awed, giddy state that only the best of films can do.

Made on the quick by Won Kar Wai as a means of rejuvenating his creative energy, *Chungking Mansions* originally consisted of three interlocking stories, but one met the axe (to resurface as its own film) to give proper attention (i.e. running time) to those that remained. Of the two stories, only the first has any relation with the Chungking Mansions: a hard-luck dame scours the sleazy corridors for drug-mules, and I must say that the general ambience of the Mansions is faithfully captured.
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