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Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties - Numbers 40-31

Welcome to the latest edition of the Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties. Now that we’re past the halfway point, we’re slowing down a bit, with this entry revealing numbers 40-31 of the Top 100. We’ll do ten more a day until the very end, when we’ll slow to maybe five per day. If we feel like dragging it out even longer, we’ll move to only one a day. Nobody can stop us.

“God, this site is so annoying.”
“God, this site is so annoying.”

Sorry, Charlene. We also apologize because it’s impossible for you to have any movies on this list. Most of the time you were in junior high, anyway.

Anyway, if you’ve just tuned in, we highly suggest that you check out previous entries to make it even more exciting/frustrating:
Numbers 100-81
Numbers 80-61
Numbers 60-41

Will Stephen Chow see even more domination? What about Wong Jing? Hit the jump to see Numbers 40-31!

40. MADE IN HONG KONG (1997), directed by Fruit Chan - 81.5 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

Made in Hong Kong

Produced for next to nothing, MADE IN HONG KONG is a true Hong Kong film, showing heart, soul and a can-do attitude to get itself onto cinema screens. Valerie Soe says, “Fruit Chan shows that not all HK triad films have to follow the formula,” and considering this film came one year after the blockbuster YOUNG AND DANGEROUS, she’s absolutely right. Starring a young Sam Lee and produced by some guy named Andy Lau.

39. THE TAI-CHI MASTER (1993), directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 82 points - LoveHKFilm Review

The Tai-Chi Master

Jet Li’s best collaborator on his films has been either been Corey Yuen or Yuen Woo-Ping — and TAI-CHI MASTER certainly makes the case that it’s Yuen Woo-Ping. Awesome action and a fun performance from Jet Li make this one of his best films. The lone Jet Li-Michelle Yeoh collaboration until (*ugh*) THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR. That is, unless you count Yeoh’s cameo in the director’s cut of FEARLESS. We don’t.

38. TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 (1997), directed by Wai Ka-Fai - 83 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Too Many Ways To Be No. 1

A stylized black comedy about heroism, karma and other triad urban legends, TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 is one of Milkyway Image’s most defining productions. Valerie So says that the film “takes all of Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai’s thematic and stylistic tics to the nth degree.” This is a deconstructionist gangster art film that turns zeroes into heroes and does so without ever pretending that a life of crime is cool. If that sounds like a genre storytelling feat — well, that’s because it is.

37. THE STORM RIDERS (1998), directed by Andrew Lau - 84 points - LoveHKFilm Review

The Storm Riders

The seminal CGI-enhanced wuxia, STORM RIDERS hasn’t aged particularly well, but when you measure it against its inert sequel STORM WARRIORS, it starts looking a whooole lot better. Over a decade later the effects still hold up, and the super-loaded cast is a definite plus. Sonny Chiba’s overacting threatens to eat both Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng alive. So entertaining that we’ll forgive Andrew Lau for A MAN CALLED HERO.

36. GREEN SNAKE (1993), directed by Tsui Hark - 88 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

Green Snake

Completely bizarre and yet possessing of so much gorgeous, senses-shattering feeling that it’s hard not to see the beauty. GREEN SNAKE is pure Tsui Hark, i.e. an audience-defying mishmash of genre and theme, meaning simultaneously everything and nothing. Why Jennifer Ng liked it: “Sexuality, mysticism, reincarnation, the hypocrisy of rigid religious beliefs, accepting others no matter what their form, accepting yourself…and it was a very pretty film.”

35. A HERO NEVER DIES (1998), directed by Johnnie To - 96 points - LoveHKFilm Review

A Hero Never Dies

Heroic bloodshed goes postmodern with A HERO NEVER DIES. Out of all of Johnnie To’s classic nineties crime thrillers, this is the one that feels the most connected with his 21st century films, with pronounced homoeroticism, spellbinding action, and a knowing machismo that radiates cool. Lau Ching-Wan can do no wrong when working with Johnnie To.

34. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED (1998), directed by Patrick Yau - 98 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Expect the Unexpected

Lau Ching-Wan leads a fine ensemble in Milkyway Image’s take on the cop soap opera. Romantic subplots, minor comedy, charismatic characters and some cooler-than-cool style make EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED an obvious cinema concoction, but the obviously allegorical narrative feels frighteningly real. As WillJayRod puts it, “Even the title won’t quite prepare you for the last three minutes.”

33. DRAGON INN (1992), directed by Raymond Lee - 104.5 points, 2 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Dragon Inn

A remake of King Hu’s classic 1967 wuxia DRAGON GATE INN, this Tsui Hark-produced actioner stands up decently on its own. Exciting action, excellent cinematography, and an unbeatable trifecta of stars — Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Ka-Fai and the sexy Maggie Cheung — all contribute to making this a classic. Lest we forget, there’s also DONNNIEEEE as an evil eunuch who’s so powerful that he can take on all three headlining stars at once. Actually, in reality Donnie Yen probably could simultaneously beat-up Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Brigitte Lin and Maggie Cheung, plus also Tsui Hark, Raymond Chow and their wives. After all, he is Donnie.

32. BEAST COPS (1998), directed by Gordan Chan and Dante Lam - 108 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

Beast Cops

Easily the cop soap opera of the nineties, BEAST COPS tells a meandering story about corrupt cops, snot-nosed triads and their somewhat silly girlfriends. Strangely, it totally kicks ass. Anthony Wong deservedly won a Best Actor Hong Kong Film Award, and Michael Wong could easily have gotten away with a nomination. Collectively or individually, Dante Lam and Gordon Chan have arguably never topped this film. Patrick Tam, why aren’t you a bigger star?

31. THE LONGEST NITE (1998), directed by Johnnie To - 109.5 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

The Longest Nite

Super stylish and super mean, THE LONGEST NITE is great fun if you enjoy unhappy endings, unflinching violence, and the sight of people getting their fingernails ripped off. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Lau Ching-Wan are flawlessly evil in the sweaty lead roles. Directed to pitch black perfection by Patrick Yau — or is it Johnnie To? Probably the best cinema use of a ketchup bottle ever.

That’s two Patrick Yau films on today’s entry — but both were ghost-directed by Johnnie To. At least, that’s what Johnnie To says. We’re inclined to believe him, because Yau’s only film sans To was THE LOSER’S CLUB. Um…yeah.

Next time: Even more films without Charlene Choi. Or Stephy Tang.

22 Responses to “Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties - Numbers 40-31”

  1. b3n1 Says:

    Wow..lots of movie from 1998 made into this list. Aargh, most of the movie I voted were in 1990-1993, I guess I’m the odd one.

    Anyway, they’re all great movie except GREEN SNAKE which I just don’t like it.

    Yes, JET LEE movie made into the list. I hope to see ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 2 & FIST OF LEGEND

  2. Grenouille vert Says:

    None of my choices appears so far, that’s a good sign :). It’s a little suprise to find The Longest Nite (the “noirest” To), Beast Cops and Green Snake stand this low, though. I think Fallen Angels will make to Top 20 (sighh), more Ekin Cheng will come too. Kozo, bring the list out quicker, please :)!

  3. Mat Thompson Says:

    Wow, do I feel a little inadequate… I have seen only 10 movies on this list from 100-31, and 9 of them I voted for! The sad thing is the only one I have seen that I didn’t vote for was a movie that turned me off Asian cinema for years when I saw it in Canada during it’s North American release (I won’t say which as I have come to somewhat appreciate this actor and what he does now… kind of).

    I’m scared my list is the generic popular votes from the 1990’s, but I’ve only been watching Hong Kong cinema for three years now after moving to Taiwan, so I have some catching up to do.

    My #3…4…6…&7 are all accounted for already, but so are my 16 through 19 votes which I actually wish I could switch up to a little higher now.

    BTW, I just ordered and received Lee Rock 1&2 from a dealer in HK after all the debate on here which will be my weekend watching. The dealer threw in a free movie as well, Island of Greed, not sure if that was a blessing or a curse?!?

  4. Jimaur Says:

    Tai-chi master made the list?? Um….no woot! That movie started off cool but just went into wtf mode after Michelle Yeoh’s stilt fight, which was awesome.

  5. WillJayRod Says:

    Also surprised that The Longest Nite scored this low. And since there’s no way Where A Good Man rates better than that, I’m assuming it and Full Alert both fell off the list.

    Seen 5 of 10, voted for 4. That’s 11voted/31seen/70.

    We can all guess that Stephen Chow will have been in the most movies on the final list, so the real gamble is on who will come in second. I’m going with Anthony Wong.

  6. Nil Says:

    Still not a single Wong Kar-Wai movie? Seen 9/10 and Tai Chi Master was on my top20.

    In total I’ve seen 55/70 so far and 3 of the movies on my top20 has appeared.

  7. Mr. Disagreeable Says:

    Happy to see the closer we get to the top, the more films I like appear, although many should have been higher (Too Many Ways, Beast Cops). Lau Ching-Wan is my man.

  8. Leemoy Says:


    His most accessible films for audience are Chungking Express adn Fallen Angel, the first is a strong candidate, if not the strongest, for 90’s number one. Days of being wild is one of the good movies will not make top 100 in my opinion. Earliest and less known Wong Kar Wai films are very difficult to find. It is the same for almost all Fruit Chan filmography. =/

    Come on, Beast Cops is much better than all Young and Dangerous serie. Time to watch more adult cop/traid soup operas, kids. Ok, I am just kidding.

  9. Nil Says:

    @Leemoy I still think that at least Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, Days of Being Wild and Ashes of time will be on the list. After all both In the mood for love and 2046 ranked pretty high last time.

  10. jeffery Says:

    Johnnie To dominates again. Please YESASIA remaster To’s triad movies from the 1990’s.

  11. QQ Says:

    8 voted/39 watched/70

    For WKW - I really hope Days of Being Wild and Happy Together get voted in but I think people don’t really like these two films for some reason (they are my favorite).
    I missed so many Lau Ching Wan movies!!! Really need to catch up.

  12. CeeFu Says:

    Ok, I don’t even remember my list anymore! But I’ve been keeping a tally, and so far I’ve seen 34/70. I know exactly where my deficiencies lie and you can’t make me watch a Wong Kar Wai movie. I know they are all artsy, but I like a little narrative with my films. Now I feel like I need to get with Fruit Chan. Hmm……. Loving the Jet Li and the Johnnie To (wonder where The Mission will land?), and Lau Ching Wan is also my man!

  13. AlHaru Says:

    Looks like WKW is going to run the show later on when some of Johnnie’s and Fruit’s cards are out (apparently To hasn’t run out of his time just yet). None of Jet Li’s “Wong Fei Hung” appears, hinting a furious late-night encounter with the similarly bad gang - Y&D. Li will have his invincible armour put on for the later half of the show, he is unstoppable. The Storm Rider is out, that means Andrew Lau’s cards (except Y&D) are pretty much exhausted unless The Legend of Speed and A Man Called Hero have been voted multiple #1’s by the homeless and the intoxicated. Stephen Chow is going to watch them fight with a cup of tea in one hand and a bun in the other. Master Jing may still have a few aces in Chingmy’s stockings. His pants are full of something else.

    My #1 showed up already in yesterday’s list and #2-#9 will end up somewhere in the official #10010 list. Guess there’s nothing worth looking forward to but catching a few shocks and surprises written on everybody’s face from now on :) Evil Kozo is going to toy with us again. Sadly, we enjoy that.

  14. b3n1 Says:

    @CeeFu. Agree with you, I also don’t really like Wong Kar Wai movie. They are beautiful to look at it but it get me bored if I have to watch them for more than once.

    I prefer JET LEE & STEPHEN CHOW movies cause they are fun to watch and I can watch them over & over again.

  15. Kyra Says:

    Maybe WKW will dominate at least on top 20? or top 10?.
    I haven’t watch enough 90’s HK movies *sigh.. I vote for A Man Called Hero because I have to choose it between Eagle Shooting Heroes and Storm Riders. Well I finally choose Nicholas Tse’s appearance =)

    I wish The Blade by Tsui Hark will get on the top list, I wanted to put it on my list but missed the chance some years ago to watched it completely, I think that won’t make it a valid vote…

  16. Juan Says:

    In my opinion, Sam Lee’s performance in Made in Hong Kong was THE performance of the 90’s. And even more amazing — it was his debut too. Which then made me think, how good was Sam Lee’s output during the 90’s? It’s kind of hard to imagine this based on the Sam Lee of the present — the one who still puts out a good performance every once in while, but seems to have become more of a caricature of himself for a bunch of meaningless cameo roles in HK movies — but once upon a time, this man churned out Made in Hong Kong, the Longest Summer, Beast Cops, Rave Fever, and Bio-Zombie in only a three year span.

    …and in other news, The Fight Back to School trilogy looks primed and ready to take over the world. Help.

  17. Chris Wolter Says:

    This list so far far exceeds my expectations because I have not seen a very large portion of them and looking at box covers in the discount bins in Chinatown doesn’t really narrow down the selection. Even with reading and other sites it’s hard to figure out what to see next. Thanks all!!

  18. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    A lot of factors affect what makes the list and doesn’t. For example, I think DVD access means a lot. Nowadays, movies like THE LONGEST NITE, SUMMER SNOW and MADE IN HONG KONG are hard to find. Thus, they may rank a lot lower than stuff that’s readily available.

    @Alharu, I actually don’t think the rest will be that surprising. At least, they aren’t to me. The biggest surprise I felt was probably RED TO KILL.

    @Juan, haha, you all shouldn’t expect EVERY SINGLE Stephen Chow movie to make this list. That would be both insane and a bad idea.

    @Chris Wolter, if this list is helping you find new Hong Kong movies to watch that are seldom discussed anymore, then it’s doing its job. With the rise in online fan press, news about films from just about anywhere is now readily available. The problem, I think, is that people concentrate way too much on the new to the detriment of the old. is sometimes guilty of that, too.

  19. Nil Says:

    @Kozo Maybe you can have a spotlight on an old Hong Kong classic every weekend on the front page, with some nice Kozo comments on why it is a classic?

  20. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Nil, your idea is pretty good, but it’s probably best reserved for DAMN YOU KOZO rather than the main site. The downside to the idea is I won’t be able to spotlight much past the early eighties, since the seventies and sixties are not my area of expertise. I’ll consider if as something for me to do with this blog once this current list dries up.

  21. Nil Says:

    @Kozo Good idea to post it on the blog and it shouldn’t take up to much time to spotlight a movie every now and then :) Think it would also be much appreciated by the readers to watch some old gems again.

  22. SC Says:

    Surprised Beast Cops made it this far, pretty crap movie.

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