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Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Eighties - Numbers 101-81

Wow, I never thought I’d get this TOP 100 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE EIGHTIES list started. Some people have been waiting awhile.

Chow Yun Fat
“What’s taking you so long? I have to start DRAGONBALL 2 next week!”

Chow Yun-Fat has a lot invested in this list, because it’s the eighties and he worked on a lot of Hong Kong films. That all ended in the nineties, when he left Hong Kong to make THE CORRUPTER and REPLACEMENT KILLERS. You know the rest of the story.

For those just joining us, this is LoveHKFilm.com’s Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Eighties, as voted upon by actual site readers. Each sent in a list of 10-20 favorites, after which we tallied the votes according to some needlessly complex numerical formula. The cold stats: 135 readers voted, 239 films were nominated and 226 films made the final list. The 13 film differential is due to nominated films that were disqualified, e.g. A CHINESE GHOST STORY 2, which came out in 1990 and does not count in the vote.

From here on, we’ll be counting down all the films from Number 100 down to Number 1. This is the first installment of our countdown, meaning I’ll be updating this blog every 1-2 days to deliver the next 10-20 movies on the list. I figure we’ll get the whole thing done in about a week. If you’re impatient, you can always travel forward in time to see how it turns out. When you get back to the present, let us know.

Afterwards I’ll print the full list so you can see just how popular or unpopular the films you selected are. No matter what, I guarantee that Jackie Chan’s THE PROTECTOR didn’t make the list.

A note: This list has 101 films because two films ended in a dead heat for #100. There are tie-breakers built into the scoring system, with first-place votes and number of total votes helping separate films that receive equal points. However, in the case of #100 and #101, both films have the same amount of points, the same amount of first-place votes (i.e., zero), and the same amount of total votes. Yep, math is hard.

Let’s get this thing going!

100 (TIE). ROYAL WARRIORS (1986), directed by David Chung Chi-Man - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Royal Warriors

Michelle Yeoh ties for #100 with this classic female fighting flick co-starring Hiroyuki “Henry” Sanada and a baby-faced Michael Wong. Plot: Michelle beats up some bad guys with athletic martial arts prowess and the men either assist or get out of the way. Way better than SILVER HAWK. Obviously.

100 (TIE). KILLER CONSTABLE (1980), directed by Kuei Chih-Hung - 14 points - HKMDB Page

Killer Constable

Chen Kuan-Tai hunts for stolen gold as the eponymous KILLER CONSTABLE, a merciless seeker of justice who would rather kill on the battlefield than worry about all that pesky “trial” business. A terrific jiang hu character and plenty of violence make this a Shaw Brothers gem.

98 (TIE). THE INSPECTOR WEARS SKIRTS (1988), directed by Wellson Chin - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Inspectors Wear Skirts

According to Jennifer Ng, “Chinese women CAN be crass, kick butt, do physical comedy and get the guy of her choice.” At least, that’s what she learned from this fighting females meets POLICE ACADEMY hybrid that launched an entire series. Site reader Guppieluv says, “It’s got Sibelle Hu, Cynthia Rothrock and Kara Hui kicking ass…need I say more?” Not really.

98 (TIE). HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD (1983), directed by Tony Liu - 14 points - HKMDB Page

Holy Flame of the Martial World

When special effects were still primitive and cheesy, the Shaw Brothers gave us HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD, starring Max Mok as an orphan who must avenge his parents and recover the legendary Holy Flame sword. Also starring Philip Kwok (Mad Dog from HARD BOILED), this fantasy wuxia pushes the SFX-enhanced craziness to eleven and never really lets up. Also, it’s only 85 minutes! Surely you can spare that much time for HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD.

97. MAGNIFICENT WARRIORS (1987), directed by David Chung Chi-Man - 15 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Magnificent Warriors

Michelle Yeoh apes Indiana Jones in this enjoyable eighties adventure alongside actor-and-someday-acclaimed-director Derek Yee and also Richard “Father of Carl” Ng. “Massively underrated,” says site reader Snowblood, and we’re inclined to agree.

96. HUMAN LANTERNS (1982), directed by Sun Chung - 15 points - HKMDB Page

Human Lanterns

The inestimable Grady Hendrix calls HUMAN LANTERNS “the ultimate Shaw Brothers movie from the early eighties when they were desperately trying anything to get kids back into theaters,” and cites “great kung fu, lots of gore, lush production values and a deeply twisted story” as the carrot on the end of Shaw Brothers’ stick. They had us at “deeply twisted story.”

95. THE CRAZY COMPANIES 2 (1988), directed by Wong Jing -15.5 points - HKMDB Page

Crazy Companies 2

Andy Lau and his workplace buddies return for more office shenanigans in this sequel to, duh, CRAZY COMPANIES, also directed by the notorious Wong Jing. Maksim explains the appeal thusly: “Andy Lau was so suave and handsome, and it also has Chingmy Yau and Rosamund Kwan. The story is silly and stupid but I don’t care. It’s amusing and fun, and the crude jokes and beautiful people make it a favorite.”

94. OPIUM AND THE KUNG FU MASTER (1984), directed by Tong Gai -15.5 points - HKMDB Page

Opium and the Kung Fu Master

Ti Lung takes on Chen Kuan-Tai in this kickass martial arts actioner cum afterschool special. Ti plays one of the leaders of the Ten Tigers of Kwantung, who struggles with opium addiction before realizing that it’s bad and taking on a bunch of Opium-dealing villains. Only one of three films directed by veteran action choreographer Tong Gai.

93. THE ROMANCING STAR (1987), directed by Wong Jing - 16.5 points - HKMDB Page

Romancing Star

“Chasing Girls” wackiness that gets an extra lift from the presence of the world’s coolest actor Chow Yun-Fat. Mr. Chow plays a car repairman who heads to Malaysia with his buddies Eric Tsang and Nat “Ah Leck” Chan, where he meets Maggie Cheung. Predictably, Maggie charms Chow, but will their romance be destroyed by insane wackiness from director Wong Jing? A big hit, which explains the ten zillion sequels and ripoffs of the same formula.

92. THE BOXER’S OMEN (1983), directed by Kuei Chih-Hung - 17 points - HKMDB Page

Boxer’s Omen

Hong Kong Cinema has a proud tradition of wild, gruesome horror films and THE BOXER’S OMEN is one of the standard bearers, complete with sickening gore effects, icky bodily fluids and flying body parts. Shot in Hong Kong, Nepal and also Thailand, Hong Kong’s Cinema’s go-to location for bad black magic. Philip Ko Fei stars and Shaw Brothers’ master of exploitation Kuei Chi-Hung directs.

90 (TIE). HER VENGEANCE (1988), directed by Nam Lai-Choi - 17 points - HKMDB Page

Her Vengeance

Pauline Wong Siu-Fung is raped and brutalized before swearing bloody vengeance in this disturbing and under-appreciated Category III revenge thriller co-starring Lam Ching-Ying - who thankfully does not play one of the bad guys. Dark, brutal, nasty and very much a Hong Kong movie.

90 (TIE). BASTARD SWORDSMAN (1983), directed by Tony Liu - 17 points - HKMDB Page

Bastard Swordsman

From the director of HOLY FLAME OF MARTIAL WORLD comes this equally wild martial arts fantasy starring Norman Tsui Siu-Keung as an unfortunate warrior striving to learn the “Silkworm Style.” Expect lousy special effects, over-the-top wire-fu craziness and pure four-color awesomeness.

89. MARTIAL CLUB (1981), directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 17.5 points - HKMDB Page

Martial Club

Lau Kar-Leung and Gordon Liu deliver their version of the Wong Fei-Hong legend with MARTIAL CLUB, which besides showing up on this list recently made the Hong Kong Film Archive’s list of 100 Must-See Hong Kong Films. What sells this one? Bad guys that are bad and good guys that are very good, plus action, action, action, from fun training sequences to an inventive alleyway duel. Chris Wolter has his own favorite set piece: “The opening scene lion dance…are you kidding me?” Evidently not. Don’t confuse this film with MARITAL CLUB, which has absolutely no martial arts.

88. NINJA IN THE DRAGON’S DEN (1982), directed by Corey Yuen - 17.5 points, 1 first place vote - HKMDB Page

Ninja in the Dragon’s Den

In the 16th century, a rogue ninja (Hiroyuki “Duke” Sanada) heads to China to seek his father’s murderer, and comes into conflict with an irascible martial artist (Conan Lee). Co-starring Korean martial artist Hwang Jang-Lee, NINJA IN THE DRAGON’S DEN has a HK-typical thin story but creative and awesome action. Says Richard about NINJA “It’s dumb and it’s simply great. You simply gotta love the ingenious main theme and the ridiculously cool main characters.” The first directorial effort from Corey Yuen, who would go on to make a bunch of other films on this Top 100 list.

86 (TIE). IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1987), directed by Clifton Ko - 18.5 points - HKMDB Page

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World

Lydia Shum, Eric Tsang, Bill Tung and Loletta Lee anchor Clifton Ko’s hit Lunar New Year comedy, which was so popular with audiences that it launched a slew of sequels with very much the same plot. The working class Pui family (led by Shum and Tung) win the lottery, hjinks and tomfoolery ensue, and the audience enjoys warm fuzzies while munching on dried cuttlefish snacks. Add an extra “MAD” to the title and you get the 1963 Stanley Kramer film, which is obviously inferior because it doesn’t have Eric Tsang.

86 (TIE). ANGEL(1987), directed by Teresa Woo -18.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Angel

Extreme Hong Kong action lives with Moon Lee, Yukari “The Osh” Oshima and Japanese popstar Hideki Saijo wearing laughable eighties tracksuits and accessories while battling with guns and fists. It’s the action climax that makes this one a classic. KL says, “The final showdown between Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima is worth more than the entire film: a girl-on-girl fight with total brutality and insanity. Brief, but after more than twenty years the impact it creates still lingers on.”

85. WORKING CLASS (1984), directed by Tsui Hark - 18.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Working Class

One of Tsui Hark’s lesser-known titles, this workplace satire features a rare acting appearance from The Master himself, plus a flower vase role for Joey Wong. Sam Hui and Teddy Robin play lowly employees at an instant noodle factory who must rise up against upper management to strike a blow for the Proletariat, basic values and the common man! Also featuring comedy.

84. WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU (1980), directed by Tsui Hark - 18.5 points - HKMDB Page

We Are Going to Eat You

Early Tsui Hark film bears plenty of The Master’s trademark gonzo creativity - black humor, breathless pacing, copious action - all mashed together into a kung-fu horror comedy. About a remote village of cannibals, WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU stars Normal Tsui Siu-Keung as law enforcer Agent 999, who discovers said cannibal village while chasing a master thief named “Rolex.” A whole lot better than MISSING.

83. THE IMP (1981), directed by Dennis Yu - 19 points - HKMDB Page

The Imp

Directed by Dennis Yu, this seminal early eighties horror flick plays it straight - a rarity for Hong Kong horror - and succeeds in chilling fashion. Charlie Chin plays a security guard with a pregnant wife who’s starting to act a little loopy. Also, his colleagues begin dying, and it may have something to do shopping mall they’re all working at. Says Grady Hendrix: “Dennis Yu could have changed the world, but instead he went into advertising. Still, this strangely surreal ghost story is one long, strange trip.”

82. PAINTED FACES (1988), directed by Alex Law - 19 points - HKMDB Page

Painted Faces

A fictionalized but still very based on reality drama about the “Seven Little Fortunes” - Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen Kwai, Yuen Wah, Yuen Tak and Yuen Mo - and their childhood as indentured students at a Peking Opera School. Sammo Hung won a Best Actor Hong Kong Film Award for his portrayal of the school head. Sadly unavailable on DVD.

81. THE VICTIM (1980), directed by Sammo Hung - 21 points - HKMDB Page

Victim

Early Sammo Hung work that’s just as good as his later, more heralded stuff. The big fella stars as a young fighter looking to an even better martial artist (played by awesome Leung Ka-Yan) to be his master, before coming into conflict with his would-be master’s enemies. The plot is no great shakes, but it’s the action that naturally sets this one apart, with Sammo’s fight choreography (arranged along with Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-Ying and Billy Chan Wui-Ngai) proving to be some of his most memorable.

Next time: Numbers 80-61. Will PEKING OPERA BLUES show up this low? And can Wong Jing actually get a third film to show up on this list?

16 Responses to “Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Eighties - Numbers 101-81”

  1. Veronica Says:

    Super!
    Not knowing how to time travel, I’ll have to be really patient to see the whole list of 101. It’s great that we made 101. I don’t know more than half of the 101-81 list and I haven’t even heard of some of the titles. Once again, thanks to Kozo and all who made this list possible. It’s great to go through them and catch up but most of all, all for the fun!

  2. Jeremy Says:

    I’m going to love going through this list. Learning about a lot of cool films I haven’t seen yet. Also glad to see some movies I didn’t have room in my list for still making the cut!

  3. Filipe Says:

    I m glad The Imp made the cut. Real scary. Dennis Yu 2 horror films from early 80’s sure deserve to make the list. I hope The Beasts show up to (despite not remember if I vote for that one or not).

  4. Paul Says:

    Kinda surprised that MARTIAL CLUB is in this lower 100 group. It ranked 68 on the 100 must see Hong Kong films from the HKFA, so I thought it would have fared better. I had a different Lau Kar Leung film in my top 20 list, but this film was definitely one of his best films.

  5. Kevin Ma Says:

    Paul,

    The 100 must-see list is ranked chronologically, which is why THE MISSION comes in last - because it’s the newest

  6. Yin Says:

    Wow, The Crazy Companies 2?!!! *gulp* Does this mean that the first one turns up too, higher in the list?

  7. Garvin Says:

    Disappointed All the Wrong Spies missed the cut =/

  8. ColinJ Says:

    Nice to see HER VENGEANCE on there. That’s a tight little flick, although I wish I had an uncut version of it. There some very egregious and obvious cuts to scenes in that movie.

  9. Chris Wolter Says:

    Something great about these polls is finding out about films I’ve never seen and now being able to see them, if I can find some of them.

  10. Juan Says:

    The 80’s were fun, weren’t they?! You could run an all day marathon of films 100-81 and never be bored (except perhaps during THE CRAZY COMPANIES 2).

    Glad to see KILLER CONSTABLE make it by the skin of its teeth. It just barely missed out on making my list, but it features Chen Kuan Tai and Ku Feng at their zeneth. It’s so good in fact, that the scene between them and a blind girl was totally lifted by John Woo for THE KILLER.

  11. b3n1 Says:

    I guess WONG JING movies will show up again. He made a few classic & popular gambling movies in the 80’s. One of them had CHOW YUN FAT acted on it.

    Great to see ANGEL made the list. I think MOON LEE was the coolest. Too bad, I forgot to vote for her. Will ANGEL 2 & 3 made the list too?

  12. Jimaur Says:

    Royal Warriors, Magnificent Warriors, Her Vengeance, Ninja in a Dragons Den, Angel, Working Class and The Victim made the list! WOOT! WOOT! Woot! Where did you get the poster for The Victim from?

  13. Mick Says:

    Great to see that the countdown has begun! And so many of these films I haven’t seen…yet. Youtube here I come!

  14. Sanney Leung Says:

    Nice to see WORKING CLASS make the list. It’s very much in the vein of the Hui Brothers’ comedies of the 1970s and early-1908s. I suspect, however, that it hasn’t aged very well.

    Gah, I just realized that I misidentified THE ROMANCING STAR as HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS on my list. Curse English titles that have no literal relation to their Chinese ones.

  15. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Jimaur, I’m not sure where I found the VICTIM poster. Google Image Search is the easy answer. Also, someone is actually helping me find posters, so I’ll have to ask them.

    Sanney, your extra 1/2 point for ROMANCING STAR would have barely moved it up a slot, so no biggie. However, because I thought you did vote for HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS, I was not going to make fun of it. Now that I know you didn’t mean to vote for it, the safety is off.

  16. Sanney Leung Says:

    My gaffe is even more embarrassing now that I’ve looked up HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS.

    All I can remember about that movie are glorious slo-mo cheesecake shots of Ellen Chan and Elizabeth Lee.

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