December 17th, 2012
It’s about damn time we started this thing. Who’s excited?
Wong Jing is excited, but not about this list of Hong Kong films.
In case you’re just joining us, this is our countdown of THE BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER as decided upon by LoveHKFilm.com readers. Originally we were going to list 150 films but because of the amount of participation - 166 voters, 481 films nominated - we were able to extend this out to a massive list of 200 films. Shocking. I mean, who knew people liked that many Hong Kong movies?
So, what’s this list good for? Well, besides reading material at work, you can use this as a list of recommended films as selected by your peers. Who better to tell you what to watch than other normal people, plus a few journalists, film fest personnel, the occasional producer and some crazy Wong Jing fans? This list easily beats my list of 15 personal recommendations, though honestly each one of those films does appear (Spoiler!). I’m nothing if not a crowd follower.
The caveat: our list is not meant to be authoritative or all encompassing. Really, this whole exercise was done in fun so I hope you don’t look at it derisively and snort, “This is some fanboy crap.” It’s a list created by people who actually cared enough about Hong Kong Cinema to email us and tell us what they like. As such, we hope you respect the list as you would their individual opinions.
If not, too bad. File your grievance with Jay Chou:
“Go ahead and complain, this microphone isn’t plugged in.”
To get us started, this blog entry will reveal numbers 200-171 of the BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER, with subsequent blog entries revealing more and more until we finish up sometime in 2013. If you’d like to find out about the scoring system and all that mathematical jazz, you can read about it at the original post here. At the end of this process we’ll reveal the entire list so that you can pick it apart until you’re blue in the face.
Oh, and in between we’ll throw out some of the results of our BEST HONG KONG FILM PERFORMANCES reader vote. We plan on sleeping when this whole thing is over.
Hit the jump to start at number 200!
200. IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4 (1989), directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 12 points - LoveHKFilm Review
What list of BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER would be complete without DONNNNIEEEEE? The Most Powerful Man Alive gets things started with a whirling Popeye punch and a torn shirt. CYYYNNNNTHIAAAA Khan co-stars.
198 (TIE). LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA (1982), directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 12.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
A classic Lau Kar-Leung martial arts action comedy, LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA is, according to Jeff Goldhardtz, “the kind of film that reminds me why I’m such a fan of the genre.” Ranked #59 on our list of TOP 100 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 80s.
198 (TIE). LAST HURRAH FOR CHIVALRY (1979), directed by John Woo - 12.5 points - HKMDB Page
John Woo’s late-seventies swordplay flick shares much in common with his later, better-known bullet ballet classics. Whatever. It’s a John Woo movie, so you should see it.
197. THE DIARY OF A BIG MAN (1988), directed by Chor Yuen - 12.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Very nice! Chow Yun-Fat is a bigamist and Joey Wong and Sally Yeh are his sassy sparring partners in Chor Yuen’s infectious screwball laffer. Ranked #53 on our list of TOP 100 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 80s.
196. OVERHEARD (2009), directed by Alan Mak and Felix Chong - 12.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu star in this hit surveillance thriller from Alan Mak and Felix Chong. Michael Wong co-stars and, lest we forget, he has his own car.
195. AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE (2006), directed by Patrick Tam - 13 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Aaron Kwok is the crappiest father ever in Patrick Tam neo-classic Hong Kong drama. Ranked #28 on our list of TOP 50 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE AUGHTS.
194. HONG KONG 1941 (1984), directed by Leung Po-Chi - 13 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Chow Yun-Fat turns in one of his most charismatic performances in this harrowing wartime drama. Ceclia Yip ain’t bad either. Ranked #43 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 80s.
193. STORY OF RICKY (1992), directed by Lam Nai-Choi - 13 points - HKMDB Page
Trashy, over-the-top, ultraviolent classic popularized first by extreme Asian cinema fans and then by Comedy Central’s THE DAILY SHOW. Unpopular in Hong Kong but a cult genre favorite.
192. OUT OF THE DARK (1995), directed by Jeff Lau - 13 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review
Not beloved upon initial release, Jeff Lau’s OUT OF THE DARK has since proven to be a subversive side-splitter. Easily Stephen Chow’s darkest and meanest film.
191. MY LIFE AS MCDULL (2001), directed by Toe Yuen - 13.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
About MY LIFE AS MCDULL, Grady Hendrix says, “There’s rarely been a children’s film this smart, and rarely a movie that so perfectly captures the essence of Hong Kong.” Ranked #24 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE AUGHTS.
190. KING BOXER (1972), directed by Jeng Cheong-Woh - 13.5 points, 1 first place vote - HKMDB Page
This Shaw Brothers flick gained a cult following in the United States during the seventies, when it was better known as FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH. Jeff Goodharz calls it “The most perfectly realized of all martial arts films. I have NEVER felt so worked up over a Chinese movie before or since.”
187 (TIE). THE MAGIC BLADE (1976), directed by Chor Yuen - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Ti Lung stars as a chivalrous swordsman in this Shaw Brothers fantasy wuxia directed by Chor Yuen. The exotic weaponry is a highlight.
187 (TIE). THE CASE OF THE COLD FISH (1995), directed by Jamie Luk Kin-Ming - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Terminally underrated cop comedy about culture clash in rural Hong Kong. Michael Chow and Michael Wong demonstrate enough chemistry to recommend that they get their own weekly TV show. Strangely enough, it did not rank at all on our list of TOP 100 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 90s.
187 (TIE). CAGEMAN (1992), directed by Jacob Cheung - 14 points - HKMDB Page
Jacob Cheung’s mature social drama won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Picture, yet remains underrated today due to lack of DVD availability. Another film that bizarrely missed our TOP 100 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 90s.
186. GALLANTS (2010), directed by Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Surprise winner for Best Picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Grady Hendrix says, “There’s a case to be made that this is the end of the old school Hong Kong action movie. Managing to wrap things up with a Cinema City star, three Shaw Brothers stars, an independent star and plenty of references to Bruce Lee, it might be the last word on what all that kung fu fighting was really about.” It’s also super funny and super fun, things that more movies should try to be.
185. SPARROW (2007), directed by Johnnie To - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Seductive and entertaining Johnnie To caper-crimer with Simon Yam as a dapper pickpocket and Kelly Lin as his glamorous quarry. Makes umbrellas in the Hong Kong rain seem like poetry on film. Ranked #31 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE AUGHTS.
184. SEX AND ZEN (1991), directed by Michael Mak - 14 points - LoveHKFilm Review
If the original SEX AND ZEN had been shot in 3D it would likely have destroyed the format because of two words: Amy Yip. Bless everyone who voted for SEX AND ZEN as one of the TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 90s! It ranked #59, missing what would be its most appropriate position by ten places.
183. MY YOUNG AUNTIE (1981), directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 14.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Kara Hui owns in Lau Kar-Leung’s MY YOUNG AUNTIE, a martial-arts culture-clash comedy that showcases the actress at her very best. She won the first ever Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress for her role. Ranked #32 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 80s.
182. THE EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER (1983), directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 14.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Not initially popular, this martial arts actioner from the tag team of director Lau Kar-Leung and star Gordon Liu would grow to become an international cult hit. THE EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER ranked #23 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 80s.
181. SO CLOSE (2002). directed by Corey Yuen - 14.5 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review
Director Corey Yuen and writer-producer Jeff Lau updated the fighting females genre with this sexy action-packed romp starring the to-die-for trio of Shu Qi, Karen Mok and Vicki Zhao. Also starring a Korean guy.
180. THE TWINS EFFECT (2003), directed by Dante Lam - 15 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Those pesky Twins girls Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung kicked ass and stole hearts in THE TWINS EFFECT, their initial entry into the Hong Kong action genre. A sizable hit back in 2003, the film has not exactly earned a cult following and yet it retains undeniable commercial charm. Bonus: action by Donnie Yen before he became the Most Powerful Fighter in the Universe.
179. JULIET IN LOVE (2000), directed by Wilson Yip - 15 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Says Martin of Hong Kong Cinema blog A Hero Never Dies, JULIET IN LOVE is “An affecting and superbly acted low key triad drama from the pre-Donnie period Wilson Yip. Superior in every way to it’s better known companion piece BULLETS OVER SUMMER.” And yet BULLETS OVER SUMMER didn’t make this list, did it? Ranked #33 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE AUGHTS.
178. REIGN OF ASSASSINS (2009), directed by Su Chao-Bin - 15.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
John Woo supposedly co-directed this acclaimed martial arts drama, but we all know the truth, don’t we? Director Su Chao-Bin gets the main credit for this entertaining and accomplished genre piece that undeservedly played second fiddle to DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME upon initial release. Time will tell which of the two is remembered years hence.
175 (TIE). THE ODD ONE DIES (1997), directed by Patrick Yau - 15.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Johnnie To really directed this movie but once upon a time we thought it was Patrick Yau. Says site reader Root, “THE ODD ONE DIES was a real lucky find for me. The visuals have the richness of Wong Kar-Wai but it’s much more oddball and light to watch. It’s an underrated film that deserves love from anyone who likes appealing, curious characters and luscious film worlds. And the ending will keep you hanging on” Ranked #93 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 90s.
175 (TIE). JUST ONE LOOK (2003), directed by Riley Yip - 15.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Hey, it’s the second film starring the Twins on this list! Remarkable coming-of-age drama from the long-missing Riley Yip. Adam DiPiazza calls the closing scenes of JUST ONE LOOK “top-notch tearjerker material.” Ranked #38 on our list of TOP 50 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE AUGHTS, and it deserves to be on this list of BEST HONG KONG MOVIES EVER a whole lot more than the other Twins movie.
175 (TIE). ACCIDENT (2009), directed by Soi Cheang - 15.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Johnnie To didn’t direct ACCIDENT but who cares? Soi Cheang helms and Louis Koo stars in this excellent hitmen thriller from the Milkway Image fun factory. Michellel Ye won a Best Supporting Actress award for her role as the femme fatale of Koo’s accident specialist team.
174. THE BLOOD BROTHERS (1973), directed by Chang Cheh - 15.5 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Frequent Shaw Brothers co-stars Ti Lung and David Chiang headline this prototypical martial arts drama from the prolific Chang Cheh. Loaded with meaty action and meatier histrionics. Reader Snowblood calls THE BLOOD BROTHERS, “Chang Cheh at his melodramatic, overblown best. Male bonding to the max!” Sort of remade by Peter Chan as THE WARLORDS.
173. ODD COUPLE (1979), directed by Lau Kar-Wing - 15.5 points, 1 first place vote - HKMDB Page
No, this isn’t a Neil Simon comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Hong Kong actioner ODD COUPLE is an entertaining weapons-o-rama from director Lau Kar-Wing, with Lau, Sammo Hung and Leung Ka-Yan (Beardy!) as the leads. Snowblood calls ODD COUPLE, “Sammo’s masterpiece, every fight is a pure gold.”
172. YOUNG AND DANGEROUS: THE PREQUEL (1998), directed by Andrew Lau - 16 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Nicholas Tse replaces Ekin Cheng in a franchise reboot that arrived only two years(!) after the previous series began. An edgier take on the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS story that eschews the triad glorification of the original series. Co-starring Daniel wu before he became Daniel Wu. Ranked #57 on our list of TOP HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 90s.
171. THE BARE-FOOTED KID (1993), directed by Johnnie To - 16 points - LoveHKFilm Review
Pre-Milkyway Image Johnnie To directs this melodramatic martial arts period piece with Aaron Kwok, Ti Lung and Maggie Cheung in the lead roles. Action by Shaw Brothers legend Lau Kar-Leung. Sorry, no guns, hitmen or Lam Suet in this one.
That’s it for today. Next time we’ll report numbers Numbers 170-141, which should happen in a couple of days. MY WIFE IS 18 has not yet appeared so keep your fingers crossed.
NOTE: Article edited 12/18/2012 to reflect disqualification of King Hu’s DRAGON GATE INN and A TOUCH OF ZEN, which originally were allowed as “Honorable Mentions” on this list. Some readers took issue with their inclusion on this list, so they’ve been removed. IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4 was added as #200 to return the list to a full 200 films.