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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 30-21

Another day, another slew of reader-selected Hong Kong films, as we count down towards the #1 Hong Kong Film of the Decade. Our last update, which featured numbers 40-31, ranked MY WIFE IS 18 at #35, so that obviously cannot be the #1 film. We’re all heartbroken over here.

Previous updates:
Numbers 50-41
Numbers 40-31

Today, it’s numbers 30 through 21, starting with:

30. FULLTIME KILLER (2001), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 66 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

Fulltime Killer

Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai went for international audiences with FULLTIME KILLER, hiring Japanese actor Takashi Sorimachi to play cool-as-ice hitman O and loading the film with stylish action sequences. But FULLTIME KILLER’s best trick is its postmodern themes; O’s flamboyant hitman rival Tok (Andy Lau) emulates popular action movies on his jobs because he “likes their style”. Also, the screenplay neatly lifts from John Ford’s THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE to sublime and even haunting effect. The swipes are cool; if anything, FULLTIME KILLER is all about the movies.

29. THE BEAST STALKER (2008), directed by Dante Lam Chiu-Yin - 67 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

The Beast Stalker

It’s Nick Cheung versus Nic Tse in Dante Lam’s THE BEAST STALKER, and while Nic (the cop) is the nominal victor, the true winner is Nick Cheung, who took his relentless bad guy role and turned it into six acting awards and counting. A gritty crime thriller with a pronounced human edge, BEAST STALKER is a great Hong Kong movie - exciting, emotional, and willing to get beneath the skins of its none-too-perfect protagonists. For the action-inclined, the slow-motion car crash sequence is worth multiple looks.

28. AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE (2006), directed by Patrick Tam Ka-Ming - 67 points, 2 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

After This, Our Exile

Aaron Kwok won his second consecutive Golden Horse Award for his performance in AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE, and while his first win was somewhat questionable, this one feels rightly deserved. This dark, harrowing and precise drama deserved its accolades too - and it received plenty. Best Picture at the Golden Horse and Hong Kong Film Awards, AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE served as the perfect welcome back for director Patrick Tam, who hadn’t made a feature in 18 years. Hopefully it won’t be 18 years before his next one.

27. CHINESE ODYSSEY 2002 (2002), directed by Jeff Lau - 75 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

Chinese Odyssey 2002

No Hong Kong film list would be complete without a nonsense comedy, and CHINESE ODYSSEY 2002 could be one of the best ever. Jeff Lau’s Lunar New Year film is unusually upscale; besides hiring way-above-average stars Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Faye Wong, Chang Chen and Vicki Zhao, the film is produced by Jet Tone Films, which is run by a guy named Wong Kar-Wai. The film has its silly points, but also some twists that prove surprisingly affecting. Having Tony Leung Chiu-Wai portray those emotions onscreen - well, it’s no wonder this movie made so many Top 10 lists. Recipient of a Best Picture award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. It beat INFERNAL AFFAIRS.

26. MY NAME IS FAME (2006), directed by Lawrence Lau - 77 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

My Name is Fame

Anyone who really loves Hong Kong movies should love MY NAME IS FAME, not only for its incessant references to the HK film industry but for its leading man, the always-appreciated but usually-not-rewarded Lau Ching-Wan. Lau broke his streak of Hong Kong Film Award losses, finally taking home a Best Actor award with his engaging star turn as aging actor Poon Ka-Fai. That, and the film’s positive spirit and glowing portrait of Hong Kong Cinema make it a gem. The cameos by Hong Kong actors and directors, from Ekin Cheng and Ann Hui to Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Gordon Chan, help too.

25. LUST, CAUTION (2007), directed by Ang Lee - 80 points, 3 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Lust, Caution

Ang Lee’s LUST, CAUTION should have won a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, right? We’ll never know, because the film never qualified for a single submitting country thanks to its confluence of investors and producers, who came from China, Taiwan, the US and finally Hong Kong. The film could have won - it’s simply that good and that accomplished, with disciplined direction from Ang Lee and flawless performances from Tang Wei and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, who actually managed to surpass his own impossibly high acting standard. The Oscars need a do over.

24. MY LIFE AS MCDULL (2001), directed by Toe Yuen - 89 points, 2 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

My Life as McDull

It’s marketed for kids, but it’s really adults who get the magical, lyrical and even depressing world of McDull. Hong Kong’s signature animated pig, the dimwitted McDull uses fantasy and some self-delusion to rise above his humble Tai Kok Tsui trappings, hoping for a life that’s worthwhile and accomplished. But hey, he has a loving mom in Mrs. Mak, and perhaps in his attempts at a better life, he’s actually found one. The sequels, MCDULL, PRINCE DE LA BUN and MCDULL KUNG FU DING DING DONG are also quite exceptional.

23. FEARLESS (2006), directed by Ronny Yu - 100 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review


With FEARLESS, Jet Li accomplished what should have been impossible: he surpassed Jackie Chan. Li essentially extended his career by an extra 10 years with his performance as Huo Yuan-Jia, convincing audiences of his worth as a dramatic actor while still maintaining his cachet as an action star. Li took home a Best Actor award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society for FEARLESS, and built upon the cred earned here with an even more acclaimed turn in THE WARLORDS. Oh, FEARLESS is a pretty good movie too.

22. MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK (2003), directed by Pang Ho-Cheung - 107 points, 2 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Men Suddenly in Black

YOU SHOOT I SHOOT brought Pang Ho-Cheung notice, but MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK brought him box office success. Based on Chor Yuen’s 1969 film WISE WIVES AND FOOLISH HUSBANDS, MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK is smart, self-aware Hong Kong silliness, parodying film, media, and a whole lot more to tell its acerbic Battle of the Sexes tale, where four men conspire to cheat on their wives in the most elaborate way possible. A highlight: Tony Leung Ka-Fai’s blisteringly funny cameo as a “fallen” comrade of the wannabe adulterers.

21. ELECTION 2 (2006), directed by Johnnie To - 138 points, 3 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Election 2

Pitch-black and pitch-perfect, Johnnie To’s sequel to his award-winning ELECTION is considered by some to be even better than its predecessor. Picking up not too long after the original, the film explores an all-new triad election involving a power-mad incumbent (Simon Yam), a business-minded golden boy (Louis Koo) and, in the film’s masterstroke, China. Dark and meaty in more ways than one, ELECTION 2 represents Johnnie To at possibly the height of his filmmaking powers.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’ll count down numbers 11-20. It’s about time for an appearance from THE SPY DAD or NINE GIRLS AND A GHOST.

26 Responses to “Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 30-21”

  1. r Says:

    Damn you, Kozo! for dragging this out :p
    This is the most fun decade list I’ve seen anywhere

  2. Samson Says:

    I agree with r, but instead of ‘Damn you, Kozo’, I’d like to say ‘Thank you, Kozo!’ And if my sentiment is echoed, you may have to consider changing the name of your blog, dear webmaster. : )

  3. laicheukpan Says:

    Nine Girls and a Ghost.. Kozo are you joking me?

  4. QQ Says:

    Actually, I am quite pleased with #21-30 as it contained several films that I liked but didn’t vote for because I went for some of the lesser knowns.

  5. Grenouille vert Says:

    Haha, one more time our Johnnie To begins and ends the 10-film list, hope he will repeat for the next 20-11 and top 10. I guest there will be 7 To’s films to go. So exciting! Kozo, you definitely have to set a poll for 90s films, I’d like to see how much votes Chungking Express will get :).

  6. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @laicheukpan, um…yes, I’m kidding. It’s probably not a good idea to threaten people with NINE GIRLS AND A GHOST, especially since MY WIFE IS 18 did happen. What appears on the list from here on out is easily justified.

    @Grenouille vert, wait and see on Johnnie To ;). A 90s vote would be pretty awesome, I think. So would an 80s, actually.

  7. valerie soe Says:

    Ah, so the classy films have started to show up now, as evidenced by the appearance of Tony Leung Chi-Wai. Bet he’ll be in at least three more selections upcoming. He should definitely win the “quality over quantity” award.

  8. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar Says:

    Lot’s of fun!!!!

    Can’t remember if My Name is Fame made my top Ten List but it was very very close. Sweet film with one of my two favorite actors and that chick was a hottie!! Election 2 - check. Fulltime Killer another fav (Andy Lau really needs o work with Johnnie To again or at least stick with David Chiang’s baby brother

    Kozo, If you can you please post it? I wanna keep score

  9. Foxlore Says:

    Glad to see HK’s little pig that could make it into the top 25. Animation often never gets a fair shake.

  10. Leemoy Says:

    Yeah, Genoulli. I think all of us would love to answer a Top10 90’s. It is very difficult watch 80’s movies but there are many pretty nice. In my opinion the best movies HK has ever made is from 90’s.

  11. Leemoy Says:

    When I watched Chinese Odyssey last Friday, I was really surprised. The movie has all elements of a typical HK comedy but the end just make the movie singular. The director made a great job under Wong Kar Wai guidance.

  12. AlHaru Says:

    Nothing is going to threaten me more than seeing THE SPY DAD in Top20. I’m calling Homeland Security.

    #21 and #22 have whopping 31 pts difference. MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK has been well-received by virtually everyone on earth, including Sesame Street’s Elmo who found it “sexually educational”, ELECTION 2 must fare better reception among our intelligent readers. I had a hard time deciding what Johnnie To movie I should vote for. ELECTION 2 was so close but didn’t make it on my list.

    But piggie & friends did. Now #24.

    Derek Yee still has two killer cards in his deck (hmm…DRINK DRANK DRUNK comes to mind…). PROTÉGÉ’s #39 spot will be avenged by the hard-drinking French-cuisine couple :P We’ll see.

  13. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Sounds like a Top 50 of the 90s is good idea! Next time I may eschew the write-ups though, because they do take time. If we’re lobbying, I’m pushing for FEEL 100% to make it. Also, if CHUNGKING EXPRESS is not Top 10, I may lose all faith in humanity.

    @Lord Garth, what did you want me to post? I might have missed a comment from you earlier.

    @AlHaru, the 31 point difference between #21 and #22 is nothing. You’ll see.

  14. Chris Wolter Says:

    Well, 52 down to 21 and not one of mine is in the books yet. Either I’m sharing some similar top tastes or I’m in the wrong restaurant.

  15. filmbeats Says:

    I didn’t save my list but it looks like only one of my choices showed up so far (Fulltime Killer). Most of my picks were pretty predictable though.

    I wonder if I’ve even seen 10 HK films from the 90s…I’d probably put at least 3 wong kar wai films for that decade.

  16. Charuto Says:

    Men Suddenly In Black is a remake? What was the original movie called?

  17. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @Charuto, I wrote that based on memory, but now that I’m thinking about it, my memory may be playing tricks on me. The Chinese title, 大丈夫, relates to philanderers and is fairly common. It also appeared in the title for two films directed by Chor Yuen - which is where I might have crossed my wires. I’ll have to doublecheck with the LoveHKFilm Research Department(TM) and get back to you.

    @Chris, I don’t have everyone’s votes in front of me, but nobody here is in the wrong restaurant.

  18. Charuto Says:

    I thought the concept was genius when I first watched it. If it really is a remake, I would definitely have to check out its inspiration. Thanks for the info.

  19. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Charuto, Tim Youngs just gave me the heads up: MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK is based on Chor Yuen’s 1969 comedy WISE WIVES AND FOOLISH HUSBANDS, which is available on VCD from Pearl City: Sadly, there are no English subs on the disc.

    Yay, I’m not crazy. I’ll put the complete information in the blurb to help others out.

  20. Richard Says:

    Hey Kozo!
    Great list! it just reminds me I haven’t seen half of them (put in my agenda: search DVDs for the new year days…). Now that’s a very nice way to make sure I have the best of the decades (at least the most popular ones).

    Would love to see a 90s list (top 1: FUTURE COPS!!!)… I wonder how many Stephen Chow movies can get in too…

    Thanks for the work, and fun.

  21. QQ Says:

    Kozo - this has been so much fun so far - can’t wait for the top 10 to come out! Voting for top 10 films of 90s will be really hard since some years more movies came out than the last few years of the aughts combined. I am lobbying for UFO productions, Stephen Chow, and at least 3 WKW movies.

  22. Populasian Says:

    This list is pretty awesome so far. Fulltime Killer (FK) is the first film from my top ten to make it. FK was the film that started my infatuation with Cherrie Ying.

    Surprisingly, Netflix has all but the pig movie available from 52-21. It won’t be hard to check out the ones I haven’t watched.

  23. Dan Says:

    Thanks, Kozo!

    This list is awesome. I just love to compare your list with my library of HK films and notice many matches.

    Love your site, been reading it for years.

  24. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    To anyone who thanked me for this list, it’s actually the people who voted (and, uh, voted correctly) that made this thing work. Originally I thought we may have low turnout, but it ended up being a lot better than I had anticipated, hence the Top 50 and not 25. So you should be thanking each other!

  25. Sydneyguy Says:

    Fearless is good but the rest……the ones i have seen on this list i feel are average at best
    Its giving me goose bumps to see what else is in stall

  26. Charuto Says:

    Cool. Thanks for the info Kozo.

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