(aka "Chongqing senlin" or 'Chung King Express' or 'Chungking Express' or 'Chungking Jungle' or 'Hong Kong Express' or 'Zong Qing sen lin')
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/wong.htm
Hong Kong 1994

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.

***

To free his mind from production and editing of the epic swordsman film set in ancient China, 'Ashes of Time', director Wong Kar-wai took some time out to write and direct a roller coaster ride of life's pivotal moments colliding through romance, emotion, fateful meetings and memories. Infused with kinetic camerawork and charmingly hip high spirits, he called it 'Chungking Express'.


A few times in life you have quintessential moments that you only reflect on in memories, unaware at the time of their significance in your life. Chungking Express is filled with these rare occasions, so crucial that they are recognized by us the viewer, if not by the characters acting out their own narrative.

Set in Hong Kong with four characters and two separate tales (aptly called Part 1 - 'Chung King House' and Part 2 - 'Midnight Express' ). The two stories have a few links; the small Hong Kong snack bar of the second title, and that two of these characters are lovelorn cops, who we know as Badge 663 (Tony Leung) and Badge 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Also, both the female characters in the film appear allured by western culture, one a drug dealer (played by Brigette Lin), the other a flighty, mysterious waitress in the snack bar (Faye Wong).


Badge 223 expresses the innocent, unflagging hope that his breakup with the never seen ex, who we know only as May, is a temporary situation. He gauges the time till he deems it officially concluded by expiry dates on tinned pineapple. He resolves the closure by devouring a months worth and promptly throwing up. He waxes philosophic comparisons to memory and expiration dates of food prompting the tagline: "If my memory of her has an expiration date, let it be 10,000 years...".

Excerpt from Gary Tooze's review found HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 1994 (Locarno Film Festival) - Switzerland

Reviews     More Reviews      DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray

Big Thanks to Paul Whitelock for the region 2 Screen Captures !

1) Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP LEFT

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP RIGHT

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM LEFT

4) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM RIGHT

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

NOTE: this is the actual cover. The cover shown on Amazon.Uk is incorrect!

 

Distribution

Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder

Region 1  - NTSC

Artificial Eye Film Company
Region 2 - PAL
DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection - Spine # 453

Region 1  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 453

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Distribution

Miramax / Buena Vista -

Region 1  - NTSC

Artificial Eye Film Company
Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 453

Region 1  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Blu-ray

Runtime

1:42:00 1:37:57(4% PAL speedup) 1:42:44 1:42:56.211
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.63 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.45 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Preferred Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.76 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

Feature: 31.39 Gig

Dual-layered  - Blu-ray

MPEG-4 AVC

Disc size: 35,377,471,281 bytes

Average Bitrate: 40.66 Mbp

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Miramax

 

Bitrate:

 

AE PAL

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio

Chinese (Cantonese) 2.0 Stereo

Chinese (Cantonese) 2.0 Stereo

Chinese (Cantonese) Remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack supervised by director Wong Kar-wai

Chinese (Cantonese) Remastered DTS-HD Master 3654 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3654 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
supervised by director Wong Kar-wai

Subtitles (yellow) English, and none (white) English, and none (off-white) English, and none (off-white) English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Original Hong Kong Trailer
• Quentin Tarantino Introduction
• Quentin Tarantino Wrap

DVD Release Date: May 21, 2002
Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye Film Co.

Aspect Ratio:

Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• filmography for Wong Kar-Wai and Christopher Doyle

DVD Release Date:
June 28th, 2004
Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by noted Asian cinema critic Tony Rayns

Episode excerpt from the BBC Television series Moving Pictures, featuring Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle (12:10)

• U.S. theatrical trailer

• 16-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by critic Amy Taubin

DVD Release Date:
November 25th, 2008
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Feature: 31.39 Gig

Dual-layered  - Blu-ray

MPEG-4 AVC

Disc size: 35,377,471,281 bytes

Average Bitrate: 40.66 Mbp

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by noted Asian cinema critic Tony Rayns

Episode excerpt from the BBC Television series Moving Pictures, featuring Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle (12:10 in HD)

• U.S. theatrical trailer (i1:30 n HD)

• 16-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by critic Amy Taubin

Blu-ray Release Date:
December 16th, 2008
Custom Case
Chapters: 12

 

Recommended Reading in Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


Criterion Blu-ray packaging

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray - December 08': So, this is our first Criterion Blu-ray offering. Hmmm... the technical stats tell us all we really need to know. Where the Criterion SD-DVD was transferring an average of 7.76 megabits per second - this new Blu-ray delivers 40.66. I think the image it looks about as good as it can on this new format. The Blu-ray disc is dual-layered - the feature takes up over 30 GIg. The film itself has some sporadic, kinetic camera movement that doesn't lend itself well for demo'ing the detail of 1080P but the grain is so beautiful to see and the colors are tighter with more depth and life to them. This, expectantly supports the 1.66 aspect ratio and the color palette of the Criterion DVD

The audio gets a bump too -  it's a DTS-HD Master and sounds just that much crisper with a tinge more range. I wouldn't say it's a dramatic audible improvement for most individual's ears but I can vouch for it being superior.  The music is a big part of this film experience and it sounds so much more compelling in this HD format. Still only English subtitles are available. 

Some observations - the new package has the same spine # as the DVD (#453) and I don't know if I'm keen on the packaging (see image below.) It's probably more environmentally friendly but perhaps a little flimsier. I'm fine with it.

The extras are the same as the DVD (discussed below) - same excellent commentary but the duplicate featurette and trailer are in HD.

So, why go Blu? Better transfer (audio + video), supplements in HD and how about this one - it's $8 cheaper. You want the best looking digital representation of this charming, emotionally playful, uniquely defining film? Well, this Criterion Blu-ray is it. Absolutely recommended!

NOTE: For those region 'B'-locked Artificial Eye is coming out with Chungking Express on Blu-ray January 26th, 2008 HERE. We will probably compare.    

 - Gary W. Tooze

***



 

ADDITION: Criterion - November 08': I'm afraid I just can't speak very much on the colors of these releases. I've looked till I'm dizzy but still feel the Miramax is inaccurate although all three can be very different at times. The Criterion has a green tinge that, according to past examples from cinematographer Chris Doyle, may very well be intentional. The Criterion doesn't quite look as sharp as the other two but I am very interested to see the upcoming Blu-ray which we will undoubtedly add to this comparison. In many scenes the Criterion looks darker but then in others a bit brighter - so it doesn't compare consistently. Anyway, one of the big issues is the aspect ratio and Criterion have transferred anamorphically (and progressively on a dual-layered disc)  in the director’s requested aspect ratio of 1.66:1. I did some toggling back and forth with the Artificial Eye and I do prefer the Criterion look despite it appearing slightly less detailed. It looks to be the only one of the three not suffering from manipulations.

For the audio Criterion have used a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack supervised by director Wong Kar-wai. The music, a huge part of the film, sounds wonderful and although there is no demonstrative separations - this new track mix is a decent one  - far more effectual than the standard stereo 2.0 of the other two releases. Criterion, as usual offers optional English subtitles (that can be fairly different at times from the other 2 translations - see sample below) described as a 'New and improved English subtitle translation' on the Criterion box and website.



 

Extras include many cineaste's favorite commentarist, Asian cinema critic, Tony Rayns. He continues to export his vast knowledge through articulate observations of the film and production. He is the best - a fabulous professional choice. It is a commentary that I will give a repeat spin. Criterion include a 12 minute episode excerpt from a 1996 BBC Television series Moving Pictures, featuring both Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle who discuss their work and aesthetics. There is also a trailer and 16-page booklet of liner notes with photos and a a new essay by critic Amy Taubin.     

I really love this film and am anxious to watch the Blu-ray. I'm pleased to state, though, that this SD-DVD is, in my opinion, a strong replacement for the initial two SD-DVDs - gaining superiority in every significant area.   

 - Gary W. Tooze

****

ON THE AE vs. the MIRAMAX: The Region 1 DVD is washed out making the colors really vary and appear untrue. On the other hand the Artificial Eye DVD has some saturation, but I think it is more accurate and definitely sharper. The Region 1 is cropped on all 4 edges. The audio sounds a bit cleaner on the AE and it seems to me that the subtitles might be a bit better as well though oddly they subtitle the dialog that is spoken in English. The only negative for the AE is that it contains virtually no extras (just a short filmography for Wong Kar-Wai and Christopher Doyle). There are other versions available, but the AE is the best I have seen yet in image.

 - Gary W. Tooze

 

 


DVD Menus

(Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC Menus

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - NOTE: Can't obtain Blu-ray capture with subtitles yet...

 

1) Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM


More Blu-ray captures

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

 Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

Criterion Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion(s) Blu-ray are in HD

Menu:

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DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

NOTE: this is the actual cover. The cover shown on Amazon.Uk is incorrect!

 

Distribution

Miramax / Buena Vista - Rolling Thunder

Region 1  - NTSC

Artificial Eye Film Company
Region 2 - PAL
DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection - Spine # 453

Region 1  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 453

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

 




 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA