New Wong Kar-Wai Project ‘Chungking Express 2020’ Approved By China

Chinese authorities have registered and approved a new project written by Hong Kong-based auteur Wong Kar-wai, listed as “Chungking Express 2020.”

According to an official filing on the National Film Bureau’s website, the script was submitted for government approval in Shanghai in April, and was approved on Wednesday, Sept. 23. This means it can now move forward with plans for production.

The project was listed by Shanghai Fanhuali Development Company, a firm that is also involved in the TV serial “Blossoms,” which credits Wong as creator and producer. The company has previously been involved in just two films: Pema Tseden’s arthouse stunner “Jinpa,” and, incongruously, “ATM,” a slapstick-y 2019 remake of a Thai rom-com.

The filing offers a short, but slightly cryptic, plot summary: “In ’90s Hong Kong, broken-hearted Policeman 223 encounters a blonde female assassin, and they spend a short time together overnight. Policeman 663, who also is getting over heartbreak, sees his life gradually changed by the intrusions of the ‘person of his dreams.’ In 2036, young Xiao Qian and May are unwilling to be held back by genetic partnerings, and insist on finding their own ‘destiny’.”

The original “Chungking Express” written and directed by Wong was released in 1994, and starred Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Faye Wong, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. That film tells two sequential love stories about two heartbroken policemen. The first is getting over a break-up with a woman named May when he encounters a mysterious femme fatale, while the second overcomes his break-up blues as he falls for a girl in a fast food restaurant.

It would seem that Wong’s new film may be a sort of continuation of this original, but with a portion of the story unfolding in the future, where some sci-fi sounding elements are introduced, and with the addition of new characters such as May and Xiao Qian.

“Wong was planning to film a coda to ‘Chungking Express.’ Now it seems to be a feature,” a source close to the director told Variety.

The timing of the “Chungking Express 2020” film is unclear. “Wong is currently shooting the TV series in China, where he has been for some time,” the source said. Wong’s production company Jettone did not reply to Variety‘s inquiries.

Chinese media reports speculate that the future portion of this film will unfold in the actual Chinese city of Chongqing (formerly spelled as the titular “Chungking”), where Wong (aka Wang Jiawei in mainland China) has been publicly spotted over the past year, sporting his signature look of a black cap and sunglasses.

After one of the early sightings last fall, he posted to his Weibo social media account a cryptic photo of a text that read “25-25,” which fans interpreted as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original film and hint that a revamp could be in the works. “You don’t ask, I don’t tell; it’s a tacit understanding. Thanks for all the encounters,” he wrote.

Wong’s entire filmography is set for re-release this year in 4K restoration, headlined by a 20th anniversary edition of “In the Mood for Love.” He is also working on two adaptations of the Shanghai-set novel “Blossoms,” by Jin Yucheng. The work will be turned into both a feature film that he is set to direct and the aforementioned TV serial starring Hu Ge (“Wild Goose Lake”), written by Qin Wen, and distributed in China by Tencent, with Block 2 Distribution handling international sales.

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