Chinese Box

Synopsis: John is an English photojournalist who has spent over a decade in Hong Kong; his friend Jim often crashes in his cramped apartment. John's unrequited love is Vivian whom he aches for but has not the nerve to possess. Concurrent with England's transfer of Hong Kong back to the Chinese, John discovers that he has a rare form of leukemia and has only months to live. So John, Jim, and the disfigured proto-hippy Jean grab a digital video camera and prowl the streets, seeking to document the "real" Hong Kong one last time.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Wayne Wang
Production: Trimark
  1 win & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min

John, it's Mary. Not there, okay.

Don't forget to call the kids.

(machine beeps)

John, it's Jack again. I haven't

been able to get in touch for days.

What's going on? You've missed

the deadline twice already.

If you don't get in touch with

me by the end of today,

we're killing the story.


(phone rings)


I know Morgan-Grenville

said they were releasing

the document today.

No. I would have said yesterday

if I'd meant yesterday.


Your today.

Yeah, put it somewhere

near the end.



Scores of British lawyers,

administrators and police,

all of them long-time employees

of the Hong Kong government,

boarded the ship, "Oriana,"

their destination: England.

But this was no

ordinary farewell.

Those sailing out

on the Oriana

are part of an exodus

of Britons leaving Hong Kong

as the colonial era

draws to an end.

There is a revenge

element in it, we think...

revenge in quotation marks...

that people in the past may have been

discriminated against

purely because they were

of a particular race.

Now the reverse

appears to be so.

The days of special privileges

for British citizens

here are over.

And as the Oriana sailed

into the sunset,

there was a palpable sense

of an era coming to an end.


John, up here. Up here.

Someone you should meet.

This charming lady is

Amanda Everheart.

- Hello, Amanda Everheart.

- It's such a pleasure to meet you.

She wants to know everything

there is to know about Hong Kong,

and the clever thing started

by reading your book.

I wonder, would you mind

signing a copy for me?

- I'd just love that.

- I thought this was out of print.

- I found it fascinating.

- Listen, hold that will you?

You read it?

Yes, I did. I took a few tips and made a few

investments actually.

I particularly liked the chapter when you

talk about Hong Kong

as an honest whore.

Of course we're all

dying to find out

how she copes

with her new pimp.

Speaking of which,

here's a man who has very

strong views on that subject.

I'll leave you in his capable hands.

Don't let him get too close.

What will you do,

Mr. Spencer

when the sun rises over

Hong Kong on July 1st?

Well, Mr. Aristedes,

I think I should get out of bed,

have a bit of a fart,

a sh*t, a shave, and a shower.

And I'll look for my...

Listen, nothing is going

to be different, is it?

I mean the Chinese have

been here 10, 15 years.

- Nothing's going to change.

- I know that.

I mean this great big

department store

is just having a change of

management, that's all.

That's my problem,

I have a problem.

I cannot photograph

social crises

until somebody dies.

They gave me money. I'm not giving

it back. I'd rather give a kidney.

But I have a problem.

What am I going to do?

Where am I going

to get the real stuff?

The real stuff is the deals.

The deals happen

behind closed doors.

What deals?

You've been here what now, 15 years?

Because of deals?

Of course it isn't

just the deals.

Sometimes you just

fall in love with a place

without really

knowing why,

without really ever

fully understanding it.

The way I fell

in love with Vivian.

How is it I want so badly

the one woman I can't have?


How are you?

Nice to see you.

You are sober,


We are about three minutes

and 20 seconds to go.

So John, why don't you

ask Vivian to dance?

You know I'm never good with this,

uh, this sort of...

- I might do that.

- I'll see you in a minute, right?

So much of Hong Kong

exists below the surface.

They don't know that this is

the woman I love above everything.

If they could see what I see,

hidden in her eyes.

There's an old game we play,

telling ourselves this is enough.

I want to ask

you something.


I want to ask

you something.

All right,

ladies and gentlemen,

are we ready to celebrate

the last few seconds

of historic 1996

in Hong Kong?

Let's hope that the Hong Kong

that we know and love

will still be here,

same time next year!

Here we go,

count with me!











- Happy New Year, John.

- Happy New Year.

Happy New Year.

Happy New Year.

Stay back!

Stay back!

Stay back!

Stay back!

Stay back!

My action

is to stand against

the loss of personal

and cultural freedom

in Hong Kong after 1997.

This is just

a personal decision.

I don't want anybody

to be blamed.

Call the police!

Someone call the police!

Get a doctor!

Call for a doctor!

Oh my God.

Is a doctor here


Somebody call

for a doctor!

Keep them back!

Thousands mourned

the death of William Wong,

the student activist who shot himself at the

stroke of midnight

in front of the

up-market crowd

at the Hong Kong Club's

New Year's Eve Party.

The leader of the front-line

theater group, Eric Lee,

has admitted responsibility for helping

the distraught student

stage the suicide.

The group has described its action as

"The Theater of Assisted Suicide."

The city of hope is

becoming a city of fear.

Why? Because the Chinese

want to change all

the laws relating

to human rights.

They're taking that

refusal to admit mistakes

right there into the history

books in Hong Kong.

- So what are my kids asked...

- But that's face, isn't it?

Well, face maybe but there's

a certain thing called truth.

- And they don't admit it.

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Jean-Claude Carrière

Jean-Claude Carrière (French: [ka.ʁjɛʁ]; born 17 September 1931) is a French novelist, screenwriter, actor, and Academy Award honoree. He was an alumnus of the École normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud and was president of La Fémis, the French state film school. Carrière was a frequent collaborator with Luis Buñuel on the screenplays of Buñuel's late French films. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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