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Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties - The Top 5

Hello and welcome to the final episode of the Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties, as decided upon by LoveHKFilm Readers who had far too much time on their hands. This countdown has dragged on for a week now, so people must be ready to find out what’s in the Top 5. You’re all excited, right?

Stephen
“I can’t have any more movies on this list, so what do I care?
These people are morons if they can’t rank me higher than #10!
I call shenanigans! Screw this! I’m going home!”

Well, maybe not everyone is that excited.

Anyway, it was necessary to drag this thing out for so long because A) we needed to manufacture suspense, and B) we needed to delay things to finish writing the blurbs, resizing the photos, and attending to that thing called a day job. But hey, we made it. We can finally return to our regular life, which involves sleep, some hopeful PS3 time and maybe some attention paid to the main LoveHKFilm website. Last we checked, it still existed.

We’re always required to always say this: if you’ve just joined us, check out the earlier entries so as not to ruin the experience of reading the countdown from the very first entry. We urge you to punish yourself and start from the beginning:
Numbers 100-81
Numbers 80-61
Numbers 60-41
Numbers 40-31
Numbers 30-21
Numbers 20-11
Numbers 10-6

Okay, let’s finish this thing! Then we can forget that it ever happened.

5. DRUNKEN MASTER II (1994), directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 350.5 points, 6 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Drunken Master II

Jackie Chan’s highest ranking film on this list is arguably the last truly great fightfest of his career, with later works weighed down by gimmicky plots or clumsy attempts at meaning. Grady Hendrix can close this one out: “Jackie Chan turned in three great films in the 90’s and five second string films, but it’s DRUNKEN MASTER 2 that will stand the test of time. Chan has always been generous to his co-stars as long as they’re willing to stand up to him, and in DM2 he gives Anita Mui the spotlight, while Lau Kar-Leung and Ti Lung make the most of their limited screentime. Most importantly, this is a typical Hong Kong period martial arts movie done right: the nationalist angle works, the comedy is (mostly) funny, the production values are slick and the action is truly magnificent. Watching the three-stage climax sees character, story and action all come together into a seamless whole that kicks you in the face.”

4. BULLET IN THE HEAD (1990), directed by John Woo - 370 points, 7 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Bullet in the Head

BULLET IN THE HEAD is heroic bloodshed taken to its most exhausting, compelling and gut-wrenching extreme. John Woo takes his usual themes (brotherhood, honor, loyalty, friendship, troublesome women), subtracts the romantic heroism, and then jacks everything up to an over-the-top, punishing eleven. The result is neither subtle nor polished, but it is exceptionally felt, with the overacting, bombastic music and obvious symbolism (the guy blocking the tank is NOT a reference to Vietnam) ultimately adding to and not detracting from the experience. In the lead, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai displays a ferocious inner emotion, while Jacky Cheung goes hilariously and then frighteningly over-the-top as the pal who gets the eponymous bullet in the head. John Woo brandishes a directorial hammer for BULLET IN THE HEAD, but instead of just hitting you over the head, he swings it with such force that it lodges deep in your skull, probably damaging you irreparably. Message to John Woo: thanks for the trauma! And the movie.

3. THE MISSION (1999), directed by Johnnie To - 412.5 points, 7 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

The Mission

Johnnie To’s filmmaking skills grew exponentially in the nineties, and with his last film of the decade, he pretty much claimed his position as Hong Kong’s top filmmaker. The film in question: the oddball gangland thriller THE MISSION. Looking like just another one of To’s rushed genre gems, THE MISSION proved to be his unexpected masterpiece, the director revealing a mastery of spare yet complete storytelling where inaudible grunts and subtle nods reveal more than whole pages of dialogue could. The action sequences here are surprising in their stripped-down stillness, with deliberate inaction proving far more exciting than bullet ballet or gooey squibs. To’s five character actors — Francis Ng, Anthony Wong, Roy Cheung, Lam Suet and Jackie Lui — complement one another beautifully, creating strong, believable relationships through body language and wordless action. Ten years on, To has perhaps surpassed THE MISSION, with his ELECTION films showing us us a revered master who makes it look effortless and all-too-easy. THE MISSION, however, heralded the ascension of that master, and for an audience, that rush of discovery is impossible to recapture.

2. HARD BOILED (1992), directed by John Woo - 547.5 points, 9 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Hard Boiled

Site reader Mut said, “Considering it’s possibly the greatest action film of all time, this was a no-brainer.” That is correct, because this is HARD BOILED. John Woo’s seminal actioner easily qualifies as one of the five Hong Kong films seen by every Hong Kong Cinema fan, and determining the other four films would probably lead to endless argument. But agreeing on HARD BOILED? No problem. BULLET IN THE HEAD is better thematically and emotionally, but can it match the pyrotechnic prowess or balls-to-the-wall insanity of this film? Of course not — we’re talking about HARD BOILED! Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Anthony Wong are great actors and none won awards for this film. But they’re awesome here because hey, they just appeared in HARD BOILED. And it’s useless for me to try to justify why this movie belongs in a list of the Top 5 Hong Kong movies of the nineties. That’s because — say it with me — THIS. IS. HARD BOILED.

1. FUTURE COPS (1993), directed by Wong Jing - 13864 points, 453 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Future cops

Few films are as beloved in Hong Kong Cinema history as Wong Jing’s FUTURE COPS, a dazzling cinema concoction that could be considered one of the most entertaining films of this, or any other, decade. The shockingly original concept: a cabal of deadly villains goes back in time to assassinate a future judge, so the Future Cops follow to protect the judge’s younger self. Along the way, the group question their identities and come to ask themselves a startling question: Truly, what is justice? The character designs and action are one-of-a-kind, as is Aaron Kwok’s soul-searching performance as Ryu. Simon Yam rocks as Dhalsim, and Yuen King-Tan kicks ass as Chun-Li’s mom. However, it’s Dicky Cheung who cements his superstardom as Goku, a truly original character creation that has nothing to do with a property called DRAGONBALL, which also has a main character with spiky hair called Goku and was excessively popular in Hong Kong when FUTURE COPS was released. No, Wong Jing would never steal an idea from anyone else. Truly, the only thing that would have made FUTURE COPS any better is if they had somehow added Dan Hibiki to the film. If Wong Jing could go back in time, I’m sure he would.

Well, that’s it for our Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties! See you next time!

Sorry, only kidding. The Number One Hong Kong film of the Nineties, as voted upon by LoveHKFilm.com readers is actually:

1. CHUNGKING EXPRESS (1994), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 673 points, 24 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Chungking Express

If this website had to choose one representative film, it would be this one: Wong Kar-Wai’s CHUNGKING EXPRESS. As a nineties Hong Kong film, it’s emblematic of why the industry was so wonderful at the time — except for the fact that it lacks any sort of martial arts or kung-fu. What does it have instead? Artful existentialism, urban alienation, postmodern self-analysis, the city as character, beguiling sitcom romance, cop soap opera, MTV-inspired visuals, Cantopop montage, plus unique Hong Kong locations and some of the most charismatic stars the industry had to offer. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai won multiple Best Actor awards for his coolly charming turn as lovelorn cop #663, while Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong and Brigitte Lin are impressive despite their lack of jury-given hardware. Romantic, breezy and gorgeously accomplished, CHUNGKING EXPRESS is a movie that makes love and its myriad, unexpected chances seem absolutely, wondrously possible. Grace Chow asks, “What isn’t there to love about this movie?” Pretty much nothing.

And that’s really it. Sorry for the lame fake-out, but it’s the most comedy I can muster at this late hour. Thanks to everyone for providing their votes and quotes, and to all the image sources for the film posters and DVD covers. Perhaps we’ll be back in a bit with a full list of voted-upon films and some minor statistics. Hope this was fun for everyone. It was for me, but now I need sleep.

Yotsuba and Batman say bye:

Yotsuba and Batman
“Bye!”

50 Responses to “Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties - The Top 5”

  1. Jonny He Says:

    LOL, I love this list!!! To be honest I won’t be surprised if Future Cops is the no.1 movie. I thought that was one of the funniest HK movies and I can go back and watch it again and again. Anyway, I guess it had to go to Chungking Express after all.

  2. Ben Says:

    Nice finish. I had The Mission as number one and Chungking Express number two. Both excellent films. Chow Yun Fat came up strong. He’s also got some excellent films in the 80’s.

    Can’t wait to see the entire list and Kozo’s list.

  3. ColinJ Says:

    Hell yeah!! FUTURE COPS, mothereffers!! I knew one day I’d be proven right!!

    Ummm, wait…

  4. wyejon Says:

    hahaha… I loved Future Cops when it first came out… seriously wished I had a copy with me right now so that I can rewatch it P)

  5. Populasian Says:

    Nice finish to an great list. I am also waiting for the full list as my Top 20 list has changed as the list was slowly released. So many great movies. I am a 80s and early 90s HK cinema fan much more than the last 15 years of HK films. But with so many late 90s votes, I need to revisit those films someday.

    With The Futute X-Cops around the corner, its appropriate for all of us to relive FUTURE COPS one more time.

  6. Minh Says:

    No real surprises with the top 5.

    Chungking Express really defined HK Cinema in the 90’s for me. The way that it showcased HK, the people, the urban isolation. Images of Faye Wong dancing around behind the counter to California Dreamin still resonate strongly in my memory.

    Wong Kar Wai has done well in both lovehkfilm polls, scoring 1st place with chungking express and 2nd place with in the mood for love in the earlier poll.

  7. r Says:

    dear Webmaster Kozco and LHKF readers, I am so shocked and disgusted by the results of this poll that I cannot see what I am typing as I have thrown my monitor out of the window
    I mean, thankyou for another entertaining poll :)

  8. David Says:

    You swine! I was just working up a really good sense of outrage over Future Cops!!

  9. b3n1 Says:

    Among these 6 movies, I was able to watch 5 of them in the cinema. I missed THE MISSION in the cinema and I watched it on DVD after I read review on this LOVE HK FILM website about how good is this movie.

    Anyway, they are all great including FUTURE COPS. No kidding, I’m into STREET FIGHTER & KING OF FIGHTERS game.

    Running Count 94/100 and all my 10 votes are in the TOP 100.

  10. QQ Says:

    17/62/100 (or 17/63/101 - I enjoyed Future Cops too ;D ). I need to watch all of the top 5 again (or for the first time). I think DMII dropped off my radar because the last rewatch was English dubbed version (yuck!) then Mandarin dubbed version - why can’t I see it in Cantonese!

  11. WillJayRod Says:

    19/45/100, with Where A Good Man Goes being my MIA vote. Nice fake-out with Future Cops, heh! And HAHA at Hard Boiled’s poster, that’s pretty damn awesome!

    QQ, what were your missing three votes?

  12. Bomby von Bombsville Says:

    Damn you, Kozo! You almost got me with that Future Cops fake out… then I realized that it was Future Cops. It makes me happy to see my favorite film of all time in the #1 slot, though I totally thought Hard Boiled would’ve edged it out.

  13. QQ Says:

    Well my original intention was to put in only my top 10 (which all made it) then last minute decision to go all 20 I knew these wouldn’t make it but they were what made HK films fun - Hong Kong Gigolo (Simon Yam!), Tom,Dick,Hairy (I liked UFO productions), and Days of Being Dumb (triad spoof with Tony Leung and Jacky Cheung) - I bet I’m the only one who voted for them.

  14. Helena Says:

    Thanks for this, Kozo - you know, I nearly got taken in by Future Cops at no. 1. Rather delightfully, my DVD rental company has sent me Bullet in the Head this very week. I’ll watch it tonight in celebration of its winning No. 4 HK film of the 90s.

  15. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @QQ, actually I voted for DAYS OF BEING DUMB too. It was in the high teens, though.

    @Helena, hope you enjoy BULLET IN THE HEAD. It’s very much a product of its time, so it’s over the top and quite rough around the edges. I’m glad it scored so high.

    Glad people enjoyed the poll. Now I’m going to rest until the next one.

  16. Mut Says:

    Is it weird that I kinda feel like rewatching FUTURE COPS now? Yeah, I suppose it probably is.

    Anyway, good list overall, but a few films are strangely absent (IMHO):
    * DR. LAMB - Sure, there were only a few Cat IIIs on the list, but this is easily among the best.
    * ANY GHOST FILMS NOT INVOLVING TSUI HARK - Alright, so they were mostly in the 80’s, but how ’bout that TROUBLESOME NIGHT series or something? No, FLY ME TO POLARIS doesn’t count.
    * BIOZOMBIE - ‘Nuff said.

  17. Mr. Disagreeable Says:

    I’m no expert on HK film, and chose mostly at random til I found this site last year, but strangely, I own the top 5. Every one. Hmm.

  18. Grace Chow Says:

    You devil! My heart stopped for a moment at Future Cops! I’m suing Kozo Entertainment for my medical bill.

    Though there are 2 things that Future Cops have proven:
    1. Surviving the test of time (NEVAR FORGET!!)
    2. Dicky Cheung is a Dick-ish actor (Sorry, can’t ignore the lame but true pun there)

    DMII make me miss the old less wired, more physical and spontaneously choreographed kung fu movies.

  19. karbo Says:

    The top 100 countdown was fun while it lasted. For only watching HK films for seven years I’ve got a long ways to go to catch up to the diehard fans! I’m still ‘cast’ rather then ‘director’ driven with my movie watching. Though only one of my picks made top 5, 12 made the top 100. Thanks Kozo!
    PS: What’s next?

  20. AlHaru Says:

    Good job Kozo.

    Ironic how the results brought FUTURE COPS back to life in the discussion. It created quite a stir back then. Master Jing was the best brain in the biz; paid no royalty fees to Capcom and owned the box office. 17 years later in the age of copyright awareness and heightened emphasis on authenticity, FUTURE COPS is legend. (as usual, recount is needed)

    Well, let’s just assume that some movie called CHUNGKING EXPRESS never made it to the top with a whopping 24 #1 votes. 24? I already refrained from being one of the 24 people, I guess it’s just unavoidable that people actually loved seeing a woman in a barbie wig. Or man eating expired canned food. Or woman steam-opening an envelope. Weird. Kinky. Gross.

  21. CeeFu Says:

    You cannot be serious! I’m joking. I can’t say otherwise about Chunking Express, because my anti-WKW gene keeps kicking in. I have an unnatural love for The Mission, even for the cheesy theme song. I’ve not seen a movie like The Mission since, well The Mission! :) I like everything else and agree. Good job Kozo!

  22. Adam Says:

    I implore Kozo to poll the output of the 1980’s. The birth of a new age! The golden years! I understand that from the new millennium to the ’90s the polls saw a decline in numbers but I’d like to think there’d still be enough contributors to weigh in on “A Better Tomorrow,” “Armour of God,” “My Lucky Stars,” “Aces Go Places,” “The Eighth Happiness,” “Prison on Fire,” “Project A II,” and so on.

    I suppose Kozo will have to catch up on a week’s worth of sleep first before he even considers it.

    In the meantime I too would be interested in that aforementioned WORST OF HONG KONG CINEMA list.

  23. Golf Says:

    Finally, 7 films in my top ten are in the top ten list and my No. 2 vote (Chungking express) is in the top spot. However, I think that Comrades, almost a love story (my No. 1 vote) loss significant points because of the poor quality of the DVD. It should be placed in the top 5 actually.

  24. mordred13 Says:

    I knew one Stephen Chow’s film was missing in this Top100. “Look Out, Officer” is a classic. Perfect acting and script. rsrs

  25. Jonny Says:

    Great fun reading through the Top 100. All 20 of my films were in there with many in the top 20/30. Reading through the top 100 has really got me excited to pull out a bunch of my DVDs to watch them all over again. Thank you for tabulating and for keeping the site going. Its the first place I go when renting/buying a movie.

  26. ed Says:

    seen 69/100 (and 37 of the top 40)
    like Golf, I had COMRADES first on my list, and was a little surprised that it didn’t at least make the top 10. totally expected CHUNGKING (my #3 vote) to win from the beginning. @kozo, did you think that CHUNGKING was going to win it before you started tallying the votes?

  27. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @ed, anyone who knows me knows that CHUNGKING EXPRESS is my favorite film of all time. However, I originally expected HARD BOILED to come out on top. Glad I was wrong.

    Oh, if we’re actually keeping score on who’s seen what, I’m 99/100, with 17/20 of my Top 20 making into the Top 100. I will throw my list out there at the post-mortem post, which unfortunately won’t happen until April due to all my other commitments.

    I really enjoyed doing the nineties poll. It was the decade when I first became interested in Hong Kong Cinema, so I have a lot of affection for the films from that time. It’s nice to know that people remember them fondly. It’s true that the most popular ones will always dominate, but seeing C’EST LA VIE MON CHERI, TASK FORCE, HE AIN’T HEAVY HE’S MY FATHER and DR. MACK get mentions was really great.

    Turnout may go down even further for an eighties poll, but I’d still like to do it. First, however, it’s either a Worst Film poll or an actor-related one. Haven’t decided yet.

  28. Tristan Says:

    I didn’t know ‘Hard Boiled’ was so popular among English-speaking HK enthusiasts. Though I guess I understand why. It’s uber-cool, and I think that Johnnie To–whether he would admit it or not–was influenced by this movie. Still, it isn’t in my top 20. I think ‘Bullet in the Head’ is superior. Sure, it’s a little rough and heavy-handed, but–unlike Hard Boiled–it made me emote more than any movie I’ve seen; nearly every possible emotion can be found there, and it makes you wear them too.

    Here’s to more great polls!

  29. Daika Says:

    Is it odd that i never heard of The Mission?

    Now i’m just waiting for all of those movies to be release on Blu-ray. Really no more dvd’s for me. Out of the top 10 only Chungking express and Days of being wild has been on the new blu-ray format. The legend of the drunken master doesn’t count because those idiots Weinsteins removed the everthing (original music/voice) and replace it with a rock guitar.

  30. Kyra Says:

    Did anyone vote for What Price Survival?
    for the eighties poll I think I can only vote for one title: PEKING OPERA BLUES

  31. QQ Says:

    Yeah, I love these polls and 90s was great fun! 80’s vote will be hard because I think many would have to rely on memory or find some copies on VHS. I sense Jackie Chan domination, but some of my picks Chinese Ghost Story, God of Gamblers, Legend of Zu Mountain, Chicken & Duck Talk, Wong Jing getting girl movies, Lucky Stars - to give people some ideas.

  32. mordred13 Says:

    Tristan,

    Besides A Hero Never Dies, there is no similarities between John Woo and Johnnie To filmography and direction’s style.

  33. Garvin Says:

    Nice!

    It didn’t quite come down to a photo finish like i was expecting. I half-expected something like The Mission upsetting Chungking Express for #1, especially after Kozo said the #1 choice wasn’t quite what he expected.

  34. ed Says:

    I thought HARD BOILED would do well, but not land on the #1 spot because there would be some vote splitting between that and BULLET IN THE HEAD for #1 among John Woo fans, but CHUNGKING won by a pretty healthy margin so I guess that wasn’t a big factor…
    thanks kozo for all your hard work running this poll, it was a fun look back on a great decade of HK films…

  35. AlHaru Says:

    I guess when Kozo goes back to his day job with a full mug of coffee after surviving this demeaning and unrewarding poll, we have a little assignment for him. He can direct our collective requests to Yesasia’s suppliers regarding the HD remastering and upgrading of current sloppy or out-of-print video recordings. We have some 130 people here waiting to buy these goodies, even if that means getting a loan from loan sharks, or getting a job in Google China.

    I’ve been waiting for COMRADES long enough that I’m starting to see Kristy Yeung as my daughter.

    It’s okay Kozo, it’s only the morning. You have 8 hours to convince your boss that people at LHKF are lovely people…in most cases.

  36. Kelly Says:

    6 of my top 10 made it into the Top 10. Thanks for this Kozo, it was a fun read.

  37. laicheukpan Says:

    Kozo Thanks for your time commitment!

  38. Top 100 Hong Kong films of the 90s « Film Beats (from the East) Says:

    […] Top 100 Hong Kong films of the 90s Posted in Best of by filmbeats on March 25, 2010 Another poll run by Kozo from LoveHKFilm and finally the results.  How many have you seen on the top 100 list? […]

  39. Jo Says:

    Great read, and thanks all for the effort. I’m glad I didn’t vote actually because I haven’t heard of half of the movies and I haven’t seen a quarter - and of the quarter that I have seen, I’ve forgotten what goes on in at least 20 of them. So I probably wouldn’t have done some of the great movies any justice.

  40. b3n1 Says:

    @Kozo. I think the poll for Top 80’s HK film is great. I have seen the power of Wong Kar Wai at 90’s and 00’s. Could he still pull off his movie at Top 5, er maybe Top 10 at the 80’s? He has only 1 movie at the 80’s and it is a classic too.

    Anyway, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Hui Brothers and Shammo Hung will dominate TOP 100. Stephen Chow has few movies in the 80’s but I doubt it will in the list. Jet lee has a classic movie that it is in the remake now with Nic Tse and Andy Lau.

  41. Jimaur Says:

    Drunken Master II, Bullet in the Head and Hard Boiled in the top 5! WOOT,WOOT,WOOT!! Now I can rest and quit saying woot.

  42. rich8606 Says:

    You know what… I used to love Future Cops back when I was a kid.

  43. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar Says:

    Meh,.

    The list is:

    The Mission

    Tricky Brains

    Full Alert

    Lee Rock

    Young and Dangerous

    Honerable mention to Lam Suet’s creepy long mole hair

  44. the neophyte Says:

    man wth? John Woo’s Bullet in the Head comes first to me over any of the above listed.. But Stephen Chow is not on top 5? wow that sux

  45. al Says:

    Am I the only one who voted for Teaching sucks? I think it’s underrated, and it’s one of the better movies directed by Wilson Yip before he became Donnie’s “best friend”?

  46. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @al, the answer is yes. You were the only person who voted for TEACHING SUCKS. You’re also correct that it’s underrated. Let’s all cross our fingers that a 13 year-old film about crappy teachers starring Jan Lam and Anthony Wong will get a release one day on DVD.

  47. Sydneyguy Says:

    Kozo did u say u saw 99 of the 100 movies? i may of missed it but whats the one u didnt see?

    Bullet in the head i liked but not as much as other people,i think when Jacky Cheung loses it, i couldnt stand watching him!!

    Hard boiled not number one? NNNOooooooo Is the remake still happening?

    i love Chungking express but i only like the 2nd story with Tony Leung in it,the 1st was boring to me.

    Im also glad people give THE MISSION the credit it deserves,the first time i watched it i thought it was pretty good but i kept watching it again and again and each time it just got better!!

  48. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Sydneyguy, the movie I didn’t see was CASINO TYCOON, which ranked way up in the 80s or 90s on the list. I think I mentioned it in some earlier comment.

  49. Jim Says:

    I nearly had a heart attack when i read Future Cop took first spot. Damn you, Kozo!

  50. Edmond Lo Says:

    I just watched Casino Tycoon 1&2 yesterday and it was very good! I recommend the movie to everyone!

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