How Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cartoons, Toys, And Chungking Express Inspired Mutant Mayhem

“Chungking Express” caused a notable stir in the indie film scene in 1994, garnering a great deal of critical attention and audience acclaim. It was touted vocally by director Quentin Tarantino, who had just become a darling in the film world thanks to the then-brand-new “Pulp Fiction.” Wong’s film tells two stories, each one a romance between a cop and a criminal. It was cited as the eighth-best movie of all time in the 2002 Sight & Sound poll. 

“Chungking Express” was partially shot by Christopher Doyle, one of the better cinematographers currently working, and he captures light that seems to be hanging in the air or emanating from the hearts of the characters. Everything is shockingly colored and warm, and the characters are all dressed in colorful, wild, stylish outfits. It’s easy to see how an animator or production designer like Kassai might draw influence from Doyle’s look and Wong’s direction. Kassai said in Variety: 

“We were also heavily inspired by films like ‘Chungking Express.’ The Turtles are hiding from humans so it all takes place at night, and these kids have to hide in the shadows because they want to be a part of human society but they feel kind of unsafe when they’re around humans because of what their dad has told them about humans. So they cannot be like on a sunlit beach or on a sunny day in, like, Central Park. We spent a lot of time diversifying what New York at nighttime looks like and giving it a variety of different color schemes.”

If one sees a lot of reds and garishly-lit alleyways, that would be the Wong influence. 

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