Monday 16 November 2015

Wong Kar Wai's Hong Chung King Kong Express (part 1)....

It's not often Agent Rob is able to indulge in some globe-settin' jet-trottin' action, so when the opportunity arose to visit Hong Kong it was duly accepted in the typical James Bond-ish fashion. This allowed him to visit the locations of his personal 'fillum freak' favourite Chungking Express - "Two melancholy policemen fall in love: one with a mysterious female underworld figure, the other with a beautiful and ethereal server at a late-night restaurant he frequents", or so sez IMDB - as watched a month or so ago as 'homewurk'....

Chunking Mansions remodelled entrance canopy.
The Chungking Mansions are located at 36-44 Nathan Road (map's at the bottom) in Tsim Tsa Shui, Kowloon - you'll know you're getting near when you are assailed by countless Indian tailors asking you to take just 5 minutes to come visit their workshop where they'll kit you out with arguably the finest suit and shirt in the known Northern Hemisphere. Failing that, you could always buy a watch....

Entrance Foyer from Nathan Road.
Entrance foyer from Nathan Road (from CE).
In the detail below you can just see what looks like the white strip with red writing from the film still above, as previously hidden by a detailed address board - refer to the pre-2011 canopy photo below - and now mostly obscured by some sort of ducting.

The now obscured lettering.
Entrance canopy prior to remodelling, circa 2011.

Evident in the 20 years since the film that the building (and clientele?) has undergone something of an extensive renovation, but it still has plenty of character (the atmosphere surely enhanced by a familiarity with the fillum itself).

Inside Chungking Mansions (from CE).
Inside Chungking Mansions.

The exterior certainly seems to have undergone a considerable refurbishment when you compare with an earlier photo (the original used below can be seen in context here). Looking back from Peking Road on Street View, dated August 2011, you can see the Mansions shrouded in (bamboo!) scaffolding....

Chungking Mansions, Oct 2015
Chungking Mansions (Street View), Aug 2011.
Chunking Mansions prior to refurbishment, 2010?
The Chungking Mansions are practically impossible to miss - in fact, the abundance of tailors accosting you in the street can be very handy should you happen to venture off towards your hotel in the completely wrong direction, er....

If you walk from Chunking Mansions and Nathan Road and along the aforementioned Peking Road - which, if I recall, is initially and somewhat confusingly called Canton Road on the ground, as it were, before the pedestrian kink - you will then come to the basement McDonalds as seen in the film.

Our Agent makes a suitably enigmatic cameo....
The same McDonalds, again prior to a refurbishment (from CE).
If you fancy picking up a wee souvenir then be prepared to wander 20-40 minutes (depending) or so up Nathan Road to rummage around the Temple Street Night Market or the Ladies Market (making sure to check the surrounding street markets) and you might just come across a little fridge magnet that fits the bill....

Chungking Mansions fridge magnet - 10 HKD (approx. 90p).
That's it for Kowloon. Next post we'll cross the river to Central where we take in the location of the Midnight Express and California Restaurant....


  1. Awesome post!
    I went to Hong Kong 2 years ago, I also visited Chungking Mansions and I went to the restaurant from In The Mood For Love. Never got to go to California though 😔

    1. Thanks very much, Craig. I really should have done a bit more research before going, but was really winging it on the ground (as well as trying to avoid turning a brief 3 day stopover/holiday into a location crawl). Still, I should have tried for that restaurant now I see it on the map!