Wong Kar Wai is Planning a Sequel to Chungking Express

Arthouse auteur Wong Kar Wai, master of romantic longing, languid melancholy, is making a sequel to Chungking Express, his 1994 classic that helped define the 1990s. According to multiple posts on Chinese social media, a project with the working title of Chungking Express 2020 was approved by the China Film Administration back in April for further development and production.

Wong Kar Wai is Planning a Sequel to Chungking Express
Faye Wong in Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express", Jet Tone Films

Chungking Express 2020 isn't even set in Hong Kong. It's apparently set in the Southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing in the year 2036. A translation on Reddit of brief synopsis reads:

"In 1990s Hong Kong, the lovelorn Policeman No. 223 encounters a blonde female assassin. They only spend a short time together overnight. The Policeman No. 663, getting over a failed relationship, has his life gradually changed by a "dreamer" who broke into his apartment."

That's actually the synopsis for the original Chungking Express. 

Wong Kar Wai is Planning a Sequel to Chungking Express
Brigitte Lin and Takeshi Kaneshiro in Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express", Jet Tone Films

Then the addon:

"In Chongqing in 2036, young Xiaoqian and May are unwilling to be matched with their genetically-assigned partner and are determined to find their own "destiny"."

This latter synopsis suggests WKW is still preoccupied with the themes about the future that he explored in 2046. And the city of Chongqing is known for its futuristic architecture. Bear in mind that WKW rewrites his scripts all the time, including during production, to the point where a completely different story emerges by the time he finishes filming. Then he'll still completely alter it during the editing process. No movie of his exists as a completely finished version. They all have multiple cuts, often released in different countries.

Wong Kar Wai is Planning a Sequel to Chungking Express
Michelle Reis in Wong Kar Wai's "Fallen Angels", Jet Tone Films

Some people might point out that Chungking Express already had a sequel in the form of Fallen Angels, which was made a year later. WKW said it wasn't so much a sequel as the rest of what he started with Chungking Express. The first movie was shot in two weeks partly to fulfill a contractual obligation, even if it led to creative choices that were taken up by filmmakers across the world for the rest of the 1990s. That includes the use of step-printing extra frames in film to create a staccato slow-motion effect that invoked a dream-like mood.

While the prospect of a new WKW movie, especially one set in modern times, or postmodern times, is exciting, we should temper that by remembering that many of his proposed projects don't happen and just end up as vaporware. Very pretty, vaporware whose idea in our heads might actually be better than the eventual actual movie. That's the nature of WKW's films – the idea of them might be more powerful than the movies themselves.

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.

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