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Archive for January, 2010

Kozo’s Top 20 Hong Kong Films of the Decade

I’m back from vacation, back in Hong Kong, and hip-deep in work. As such, this long-belated Kozo-approved Best of the Decade list is going old school. That means no countdown, few if any photos and only minor comments after each film. I’d prefer to save all my effort for the lists voted upon by the readers.

First, the standard disclaimer. The picks in my Top 20 hew pretty close to my personal faves of the decade, though I did pay extra attention to things like originality, relevance to Hong Kong Cinema, or just plain awesomeness. There are A LOT of films I regret leaving off of this list, so if you have to ask “Where is XXXX movie?” then here’s your answer: it’s probably at the #21-25 area.

Enough chatter. Here’s the list:

20. NEEDING YOU… (2000), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai
Old habits die hard, and that’s why NEEDING YOU… comes in at #20. I’m not as crazy about this movie as I used to be, but I’d still watch it again before at least 10 other movies on this list.

19. CRAZY N’ THE CITY (2005), directed by James Yuen
I was initially hesitant in my praise of CRAZY ‘N THE CITY because it was the first film released in 2005, and I thought many better pictures would be released that year. I was wrong.

18. HIGH NOON (2008), directed by Heiward Mak
Twenty-four year-old director Heiward Mak’s youth drama has its flaws, but its a startling and accomplished debut. Sometimes pretentious too - but you know what? HIGN NOON earns it.

17. DUMPLINGS (2004), directed by Fruit Chan
Genuinely horrifying because you believe someone would do it. An aging actress elects to eat fetus-filled buns simply in hopes of looking a little younger? I’d buy that. Fruit Chan later-career foray into commercial filmmaking proves unsurprisingly better than its contemporaries.

16. ONE NITE IN MONGKOK (2004), directed by Derek Yee
An exciting crime thriller marred only by a last minute dip into pretension, this is Derek Yee at his laser-precise best. Yee’s strict attention to local geography and detail is especially good here. Johnnie To should pay attention.

15. RED CLIFF I (2008) and RED CLIFF II (2009), directed by John Woo
China made this movie possible, but it’s got John Woo from head to toe - and that makes this one of the best Hong Kong movies of the decade. Probably worth watching again and again.

14. THE EYE (2002), directed by the Pang Brothers
The Pang Brothers haven’t lived up to their promise, but that doesn’t mean we should disregard THE EYE. The elevator scene is still scary today. Too bad about that Hollywood remake, though.

13. LOVE UNDERCOVER (2002), directed by Joe Ma
Super silly and super commercial, but LOVE UNDERCOVER was probably a better time at the movies than 75% of this list. Hong Kong movies are more than just Johnnie To and Donnie Yen.

12. INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2 (2003), directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
Instead of replicating the thrills of the original, Messrs. Lau, Mak and Chong wisely tried something else: a rich gangland drama. INFERNAL AFFAIRS may have started everything, but this sequel is good enough on its own  that it deserves a mention.

11. AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE (2006), directed by Patrick Tam
A precise, harrowing character drama that still resonates four years later. AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE showed us that A) Patrick Tam should not be forgotten, B) Aaron Kwok’s acting awards aren’t flukes, and C) sometimes the big Awards shows do get their picks right.

10. THROWDOWN (2004), directed by Johnnie To
Johnnie To’s THROWDOWN is a judo smackdown of rich cinema goodness, and a love letter to everyone who’s seen better days. Probably the most enjoyable film Johnnie To has ever made.

9. SHAOLIN SOCCER (2001), directed by Stephen Chow
Stephen Chow brought his game to a whole new level with SHAOLIN SOCCER. A satisfying and even bittersweet bridge between Chow’s mo lei tau past and his SFX-heavy, let’s-appeal-to-a-global audience present.

8. MY LIFE AS MCDULL (2001), directed by Toe Yuen
Three words: dim-witted animated pig. The fact that he lives in Tai Kok Tsui, faces genuine local Hong Kong issues, and kicks ass at bun snatching is just a plus. We all could use a mom like Mrs. Mak.

7. INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002), directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
In retrospect, this crime thriller seems a little too slick, but that may be our over-loaded geek movie brains talking, especially since IA defined the look, feel and entire content (Hello there, DEPARTED.) of countless other films. For what it is, INFERNAL AFFAIRS is nearly flawless.

6. HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG (2004), directed by Fruit Chan
A movie about Hong Kong, China and urban redevelopment but also one of the most original and oddly entertaining films to come out during the Aughts. Fruit Chan’s work is creative and startlingly assured, and it’s a crime that he’s produced so little since.

5. THE WAY WE ARE (2008), directed by Ann Hui
The most honest and genuine Hong Kong film of the decade, and you know why? Because NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS. That Ann Hui can make that journey so familiar and compelling tells us everything we need to know about her directorial skill.

4. RUNNING ON KARMA (2003), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai
The odd tone and Andy Lau muscle suit are off-putting, but pound for pound, RUNNING ON KARMA may be the most uniquely Hong Kong movie of the decade. Johnnie To and Wai Kai-Fai go crazy with their Buddhist themes here.

3. CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON (2000), directed by Ang Lee
So influential that it should be at the Top 5 of any Hong Kong film list. Some people say its not a Hong Kong film, but the Hong Kong Film Awards disagrees. Bill Kong of Edko Pictures probably disagrees too.

2. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000), directed by Wong Kar-Wai
This movie seems even better in light of the rest of the decade, where Wong Kar-Wai seemed to be recycling just about everything. Pretty much the pinnacle of his filmography up to now.

1. ELECTION 2 (2006), directed by Johnnie To
Because I put ELECTION 2 at #1 on this list, I left off ELECTION, so hey - it’s not a oversight. Either film could be put at the top of this list, but I vote for ELECTION 2 because of how it brilliantly tells its darker-than-dark triad politics tale AND folds in nifty commentary on how the government to the north chooses to roll. Calling Johnnie To the director of the decade is not a stretch either.

Yay, wasn’t that cool? Obviously it wasn’t, but I can dream, can’t I? My one regret here is that this list did not count towards the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade vote because I didn’t come up with it earlier. I’ll try to rectify that when I run the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties vote, which should appear in a couple of weeks or so.

Other stuff happening in 2010: I’m also going to be working on this year’s entry in the LoveHKFilm Awards, which includes the same seven people as last year. We might also get one more blog on the site. Maybe I’ll go to Italy again. Another goal is avoiding hospitalization. It’s going to be quite a year.

Top 50 of the Decade Postmortem - Full list + stats and other stuff

NOTE: If you’re just discovering this list of the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade, I suggest you head all the way back to the beginning at #50 and read starting from #1. It’s more fun, makes more sense, and will manufacture completely unnecessary suspense. Do it.

On to the regular blog entry:

Following up on December’s vote of LoveHKFilm readers, here’s a full list of the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade, including the Top 50 (and bonus 2) followed by the 125 films that were voted upon.

Because it would be a massive task to link every single film, I would humbly request that readers do a “copy and paste” of film titles into the LoveHKFilm search box to the left if they wish to read a review. Nearly every film listed here has an accompanying review on the site, except A GAMBLER’S STORY (2001) and DURIAN DURIAN (2000), which were never written because I was lazy during the early Aughts. Or maybe I was drunk. We’ll never know.

Also, sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. I’m having connectivity problems in my current (non-Hong Kong) location. If/when it ever gets resolved it’s back to funny celeb photos.

The list first, with fun facts and statistics afterwards:

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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade list republished at YesAsia.com

Happy New Year! I’m still putting together a full list of titles voted on for the Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade, and it should hopefully be ready soon.

Just an FYI to those who participated: the full list of the Top 52 plus all the write-ups has been republished over at YesAsia.com. You can find the article over here.

This came about for a number of reasons. For one thing, it makes sense because it might help people who surf YesAsia to find decent titles outside of the usual promoted ones. Also, it’s an easy shortcut if anyone wants to see if certain titles are still available.

More important, however, I do work at YesAsia and they’re the primary reason that I now live in Hong Kong and am able to see first-run Hong Kong movies reasonably soon. They recruited me to work in their Hong Kong office five years back, and much of the site’s progression in the last few years can indirectly be attributed to them.

So, occasionally providing YesAsia with relevant content - like the numerous reviews that get cross-posted over there - seems the least that LoveHKFilm.com can do for them. I’m not sure that I’ll share any other Top 50 lists from this site in the future. It definitely won’t happen if we do a poll for the Worst 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade.

Back in a day or so with the full list!

Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - The Top 3

We’re finally here. The Top 3 films of our reader-selected Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade are listed below. Sorry to drag this thing out an extra day, but I decided to split the Top 3 from the rest of the Top 10 because of the sheer disparity in points and votes between these three films and the rest.

An illustration via nifty statistics: the #4 film KUNG FU HUSTLE had 219 fewer points than the #3 film. 20% of all available points were given to the top three films. Also, the top three films received 45% of all first-place votes. Most shocking of all, Johnnie To has nothing to do with any of them.

In case you’re new and want to read up on the previous 47 films, you can do so here:
Numbers 50-41
Numbers 40-31
Numbers 30-21
Numbers 20-11
Numbers 10-4

Oh, and sorry for the post with the fake Top 3. Actually, I kind of like PLAYBOY COPS.

Let’s get this over with:

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The Best 3 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade

UPDATE: Sorry, this is fake. Our clock is set four months ahead and we thought it was April 1st. Feel free to skip this blog entry and read the other ones. Our apologies to Stephen Chow. And Jay Chou. And also Obama.

And here are the Best 3 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade, presented early for your pleasure and/or annoyance.

Here we go:

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