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The Best 75 Hong Kong Films of the 2010s - Numbers 10-6

Hello and welcome to Day 6 of THE BEST 75 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s, a list of the notable films from the past decade as determined by readers and passerbys of defunct website There’s a whole process behind this and it’s explained somewhere on this site but for now you’ll just have to trust that I’m telling you the truth. You know, just like you do with the media and politicians.

Wong Jing
“I don’t care about money at all! I’m a just a popular artist
who likes making entertaining movies! I’m being honest, really!
This is my real hair and Jeffrey Epstein totally killed himself!”

As always, if you’re just joining us, I suggest - nay, I urge you to go back to the beginning of this countdown to prevent spoilers, readjust expectations, and of course increase this site’s ad revenue, which is so enormous that we gave up running the site a few years back. On the plus side, the site’s revenue did buy me a few cups of coffee. It could have bought me more than just a few, but sadly I went to Starbucks.

This post will reveal numbers 10-6 of the list. As we are now in the Top Ten, every film from here out is likely not a surprise. In fact, I’m sure most semi-active Hong Kong Cinema fans can guess them all, especially if you look back at the list presented in our announcement post and use your brilliant deductive skills to figure them out. I’ll give you a hint and tell you that GOLDEN BROTHER did not make it. Neither did other Stephy Tang movies like SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE MIST or ANNIVERSARY.

She continues to take it well:

Stephy Tang
“This is strangely therapeutic!”

Oh yeah, previous entries if you feel like going back and checking them out:
Numbers 75-61
Numbers 60-46
Numbers 45-31
Numbers 30-21
Numbers 20-11

So hit that jump and let’s start the Top Ten! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I intend on reaching it.

10. THE MIDNIGHT AFTER (2014) - 225.5 points, 4 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

The Midnight After

So Hong Kong that it’ll probably be banned by China in a few years, Fruit Chan’s THE MIDNIGHT AFTER is one of the most confounding and rewarding films of the past decade. Ostensibly an apocalyptic sci-fi thriller (based on an internet novel written by, uh, Pizza), the film takes a varied group of Hong Kongers and places them on a red minibus to New Territories-located Tai Po, which is mysteriously desolate and lacking human life. Alone and questioning what happened, the group predictably begins to disintegrate, while the film becomes more and more abstract, leading to unexplained subplots, strange comic asides, and a C-grade music video set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Eventually the whole thing ends in a cliffhanger, and given the complete lack of activity on Fruit Chan’s front, it seems we’ll never find out what happened to the passengers on the red minibus. But we don’t have to, because the whole film (unlike the actual novel) is really a metaphor, where Tai Po is Hong Kong and our heroes must decide if they want to remain in the place they call home, or give up and leave it behind. As a pure fiction film, THE MIDNIGHT AFTER is befuddling, but as a cinematic statement about Hong Kong and its people, it’s far more surprising and affecting than similarly-themed fare like TEN YEARS. Given everything that’s happened since the film’s initial release, and considering some of its more potent imagery (e.g., empty Hong Kong streets, mysterious gangs wearing hazmat suits), THE MIDNIGHT AFTER might even be more eerie and resonant now. But yeah, if and when China completely absorbs Hong Kong, this movie will end up on the chopping block. Or maybe not. SAPPRFT (or SARFT or whatever regulatory body China now employs) has never been great at parsing metaphor.

9. LET THE BULLETS FLY (2011) - 227.5 points, 5 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Let the Bullets Fly

Speaking of parsing metaphor, China’s censors missed another one when they allowed LET THE BULLETS FLY onto screens across the Middle Kingdom. Starring, directed by, written by, and divinely graced by his Force-sensitive holiness Baze Malbus (a.k.a. Jiang Wen, if you need a real name), LET THE BULLETS FLY is probably one of the smartest and most entertaining Chinese films around, and we probably shouldn’t call it a Hong Kong movie because its only ties to the territory are Chow Yun-Fat and entertainment conglomerate EEG. But whatever, it qualified for the vote and is so amazingly good that we should be stoked out of our minds to anoint it one of the ten best Hong Kong films of the 2010s. In this masterpiece of trolling-as-filmmaking, Jiang Wen plays bandit Zhang Muzhi, who decides that the key to really making bank is to become a politician. He steals the identity of politician/conman Ma Bangde (Ge You) to take over rural outpost Goose Town, but must contend with local godfather Huang (Chow Yun-Fat), who’s not so happy that a bandit-pretending-to-be-politician is muscling in on his turf. What follows is a blistering black comedy-action-satire that touches upon corruption and revolution - two things that China movies normally doesn’t talk about unless they’re happening elsewhere or during another time. Granted, LET THE BULLETS FLY takes place pre-Mao but don’t you think the CCP would have been happier if Jiang Wen had chosen different themes? Jiang would follow LET THE BULLETS FLY with the even denser GONE WITH THE BULLETS and action-revenge-comedy HIDDEN MAN, and while critical and commercial results were less-than-great for both, Jiang’s sharp and gleefully satirical wit was still in play. Both might be considered bad movies, but if so, nobody makes better “bad” movies than Jiang Wen. Truly, he is one with the Force and the Force is with him.

8. LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE (2011) - 319 points, 6 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Life Without Principle

Not a biopic of your average politician or journalist, LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE is instead a scathing takedown of capitalism, and chronicles with exceptional irony how it turns money-mad Hong Kongers into amoral and unhinged tools. Johnnie To notches his seventh film of the BEST 75 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s (not counting MOTORWAY, which he produced), bringing back his longtime leading man Lau Ching-Wan to star alongside Richie Jen and Denise Ho. The three play disparate characters whose stories collide as Hong Kong undergoes a financial meltdown, leading to a missing bag of money, pronounced sweaty panic, and the sight of Keung Ho-Man getting hilariously stabbed in the chest. Probably Johnnie To’s most ambitious work since the ELECTION movies, this one deftly tackles the Hong Kong zeitgeist in a way To usually doesn’t, and proves to be a relevant and sometimes brutally honest work. LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE was actually made over a lengthy period of time, with To and his crew starting and stopping production whenever new ideas, new projects, or a late-night hot pot gathering got in the way. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this method of filmmaking has produced some of To’s most indelible creations, from neo-noir PTU (2003) to the French Cinema-inspired SPARROW (2007). LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE was nominated for a zillion Hong Kong Film Awards but only took home two, for Best Supporting Actor (Lo Hoi-Pang) and Best Supporting Actress (So Hang-Suen). Unfortunately for Johnnie To (and also Jiang Wen, whose LET THE BULLETS FLY was simultaneously up for a zillion awards), LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE was completely steamrolled by some little movie about an old woman who has a stroke. Fear not, Johnnie To has one hidden ace left to challenge for the title of Best Hong Kong Film of the 2010s.

7. LOVE IN A PUFF (2010) - 322 points, 6 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Love in a Puff

Welp, that’s it for Pang Ho-Cheung and the BEST HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s. His final entry on this list places at #7: the seminal romantic comedy LOVE IN A PUFF, which charmed audiences and critics with its hip local flavor, whip-smart script (co-penned by Heiward Mak), and the successful star pairing of Miriam Yeung and Shawn Yue. This hilariously foul-mouthed urban romcom features two relatable and charmingly-imperfect characters in Cherie (Yeung) and Jimmy (Yue), who meet and fall in love while indulging in their increasingly-frowned-upon habit of smoking like there’s no tomorrow. The film would go on to spawn the romantic comedy franchise of the decade with sequels LOVE IN THE BUFF and LOVE OFF THE CUFF, making Pang Ho-Cheung simultaneously one of Hong Kong Cinema’s most revered modern talents and a box-office force to be reckoned with. Jenn calls LOVE IN A PUFF “the HK romcom of the decade,” while Yinique is a bit more nostalgic in her appraisal, saying that the film “harks back to a more innocent time when the biggest worry was finding a place to smoke and hang out with your new crush. 2010 feels so, so long ago if only because we are all so, so old and tired now.” Regardless of how old its target audience gets, the LOVE PUFF/BUFF/CUFF movies will always be remarkable for their accurate reflection of Hong Kong culture, and also for being the franchise that ushered Pang Ho-Cheung from hipster fave to mainstream hitmaker to, uh, whatever his next career chapter will be. It may not actually be in Hong Kong since Pang is flirting more with the mainland market - an odd partnership considering his close identification with local culture - but whatever, we won’t know how that shakes out until the BEST HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2020s is ready for discussion. i n 55!W ! always.

6. TRIVISA (2016) - 330 points, 10 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review


Hey, it’s Johnnie To’s TRIVISA at #6! That means Johnnie To ends the BEST HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s out of the Top 5, a resounding defeat for the usually indomitable master filmmaker. Nah, we’re kidding. TRIVISA was only produced by To and is not the hidden ace that we mentioned in the write-up for LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE (that ace is clearly CHASING DREAM). Regardless, it’s somewhat disappointing for TRIVISA to place at #6 because it’s friggin’ great and actually received more first place votes than any film besides the Top 2. What happened? Did people just forget about TRIVISA? Do they not like titles referring to Buddhist teachings? Or did they confuse it with TEN YEARS and say, “No way am I voting for that POLITICAL movie.” That last stance would be a weird one because TRIVISA is pretty political. Directed by young filmmakers Frank Hui, Jevons Au (who directed one segment of TEN YEARS) and Vicky Wong, this crime drama follows three real-life criminals (played by Richie Jen, Jordan Chan and Gordon Lam in an award-winning performance) who try to adjust to the Hong Kong Handover, only to discover that there’s little place for them in this brave new China-run world. TRIVISA has other layers: it’s an incisive metaphor for Hong Kong filmmakers adjusting to mainland rules, and an impressive character study of three different men facing change. The worrying change for us? Besides the obvious ones involving China that you see on your nightly news, there’s the fact that Milkyway Image won’t be able to supply our crime film fix forever. The emergence of these new filmmakers (working under Milkyway Image producer Yau Nai-Hoi) represents the hope that the Milkyway Image torch will carried into the future - and Johnnie To and company have openly said that it will. I would be happier with this news, except they said it four years ago and there hasn’t been any of this promised “new Milkyway Image” stuff since. Unless you count CHASING DREAM.

Wow, very surprise, much suspense. Shockingly, TRIVISA did not make it to the Top 5 but that means more room for EAST MEETS WEST and both films in the GIGOLO duology. Join us next time for the Top 5 when we finally crown DELETE MY LOVE as The Best Hong Kong Film of the 2010s.

One Response to “The Best 75 Hong Kong Films of the 2010s - Numbers 10-6”

  1. Tim Chmielewski Says:

    I can’t believe LOVE IN A PUFF is the only one I have seen of these. LOL! So random! Also I saw it on SBS TV in Australia which has thrown HK movies into the garbage or at 2am at night. At least they have World Movies and SBS Online so you can watch the catalog while they have it.

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