LOVEHKFILM.COM
- reviews - features - people - panasia - blogs - about site - contact - links - forum -
 
 
Search LoveHKFilm.com
Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The FAQ Page
 
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit YesAsia.com
 
 
 
 
 

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with Damn you, Kozo!.

The Best 75 Hong Kong Films of the 2010s - Numbers 5-1

We’re finally here. Day 7: The very last post of THE BEST 75 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s, where one film gets crowned the winner, the others get berated as losers, and we all go home and immediately buy a copy of MEOW. Not because it’s going to show up in the Top 5, but because we’ve mentioned it so many times, you’ve been brainwashed into buying it.

 MEOW
“Take me home!”

Likewise, we’ve made so much fun of Stephy Tang you probably feel like getting all her movies. This is a much better than buying MEOW, because then you’d own THE EMPTY HANDS, TRIVIAL MATTERS, SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE MIST, and one day MY PRINCE EDWARD. You’d also own a majority of Patrick Kong’s works so, well, ha ha.

Nelson

Also, we’ve mentioned Louis Koo so many times that you likely want to buy all his movies, too. But that’s not a big deal because you already own at least 60% of his filmography.

Louis Koo
“I live rent-free. On your shelf.”

The standard boilerplate before we put this thing down: This list was compiled from votes by over 120 readers and passerbys of decomposing website LoveHKFilm.com, and we thank them for their contributions. Also, if you’re just joining this countdown now, by all that is holy go back to the beginning and start the countdown at #75. You could ask me why and question my methods, but then I’d employ common Internet rhetorical devices and tell you to go do your own research, you lazy Russian bot.

Links to previous entries in this series if you need them:
Numbers 75-61
Numbers 60-46
Numbers 45-31
Numbers 30-21
Numbers 20-11
Numbers 10-6

Okay, hit that jump and let’s put this thing to bed.

5. WU XIA (2011) - 341.5 points, 5 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Wu Xia

Donnie Yen scores a #5 rank with the film that will count as his personal best in this voting. Yes, that’s it for the Yenmeister in the BEST 75 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 2010s, unless you think ICEMAN, ICEMAN: TIME TRAVELER or SPECIAL ID have a chance at a Top 4 rank. Really, we hope you don’t think that because: A) it will not happen, and B) we guarantee at least seven people worldwide will immediately think less of you. Anyway, #5 is WU XIA (titled DRAGON in some territories by unimaginative marketing drones), which was directed by Peter Chan in another of his China-funded mass-audience efforts. WU XIA pairs DONNNIEEEEEE with TAKESSHHIIIIII for a period martial arts thriller not unlike David Cronenberg’s A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE - which is not a dig because A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE was all shades of awesome. WU XIA is terrific too; it’s a very entertaining blend of CSI-style investigation (from Takeshi Kaneshiro at his oddball best) and hard-hitting action (from Donnie Yen the star and action director). Also, the film features Tang Wei, Kara Hui and Jimmy Wang Yu in the supporting cast, which would be a class above “A+” if such classes actually existed. Fan love has been unceasing in the nine years since the film’s release. Casey Chan says that WU XIA is “Donnie at his best as an action director,” while LP Hugo of Asian Film Strike calls it “a clever and compelling mix of throwback and reinvention, of quirkiness and brawn, of Doooonnnnniiiiiieeee and Mr. Yen the actor.” Also of note: the impressive sound design, especially during that moment where Donnie Yen hugs Takeshi Kaneshiro in the middle of a forest and the bass delivers a long, low hum that threatens to disassemble your floorboards. We believe that’s what actually happens when Donnie Yen hugs someone.

4. GALLANTS (2010) - 364 points, 7 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Gallants

Ten years later, Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng’s GALLANTS is still surprising us. This low budget action-comedy, about a fading martial arts school and the ragtag group assembled to defend it, came out of nowhere in 2010 to charm fest audiences and ultimately won Best Picture at the Hong Kong Film awards over big budget fare like DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME and REIGN OF ASSASSINS. But in the years since, neither Kwok nor Cheng has soared as high as when their little-film-that-could took on the blockbusters and actually beat them. As such, it’s with some surprise that GALLANTS managed to beat every single Donnie Yen film, all but one Johnnie To film, and SWITCH to place #4 in the BEST 75 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s. Okay, maybe beating SWITCH isn’t such a surprise, but it’s a testament to how enormously endearing and entertaining this film is that it’s lasted in the collective memory of Hong Kong Cinema fans for 10 whole years. Isaac Chambers of Far East Films calls GALLANTS “the funniest and craziest action comedy of the decade,” while Eastern Film Fans dubs it “old school entertainment for the new generation.” There’s still plenty to recommend it today, like its copious nods to classic martial arts films, the hilarious turn from Teddy Robin (who won a Best Supporting Actor Hong Kong Film Award) as the urbane Master Law, and ultimately the film’s message, which remains relevant even today. Given the situation in GALLANTS - a younger, better-equipped martial arts school with more resources versus an old, nearly-forgotten school from a beaten-down dojo - the outcome is fairly certain. But fighting isn’t about winning - it’s about being true to your principles, conquering your fears, and making the effort. There are worse fates than to fail with those things in your heart.

3. DRUG WAR (2013) - 398.5 points, 4 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Drug War

Hey, remember when Johnnie To made a China-approved crime film that stripped away all nuance and edge in favor of an obvious “good guys win, bad guys lose” narrative? I do: It was called DRUG WAR, and it somehow placed #3 among the BEST 75 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s. In DRUG WAR, Louis Koo plays an evil drug dealer who’s caught by righteous cop Sun Hong-Lei, and to get a lighter sentence he offers to help take down the region’s entire drug operation. Then the good guys stop the bad guys and everyone who’s bad is punished. Yay, that was totally predictable and totally deferred to Chinese censors, and apparently the censors were asleep or unable to understand movies because Johnnie To just made a devastating statement about how justice in China is actually kind of sick. To adhered to the superficial expectations of the China crime film, but successfully subverted those expectations by framing his cops as robots, his criminals as humans, and the pursuit of justice as chilling and ultimately quite cruel. He also served it up with cineaste-pleasing style and his trademark use of action over words (which is probably a big reason he was able to get away with so much). Valerie Soe gets it, describing DRUG WAR as “Johnnie To makes a Hong Kong movie in China without the censors realizing they’ve been pranked.” There has never been official confirmation that To was actually criticizing China, but China probably realized they’d been punked because Johnnie To has not made a China crime movie since DRUG WAR. To apparently has a few more opinions on China because he’s said that when he finally makes ELECTION 3, he’ll probably be unable to work in China again. So let’s look forward to ELECTION 3 being one of the BEST HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 2030s. I would expect it sooner, but things are kind of dicey right now and maybe it’s best for Johnnie (and everyone else) to cool it with the anti-China stuff. I mean it, cool it right now. Seriously, they’re already at my door.

2. A SIMPLE LIFE (2011) - 433.5 points, 10 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

A Simple Life

So if Ann Hui’s A SIMPLE LIFE ranks #2 among the BEST HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE 2010s, then you know what #1 has to be, right? But before we get to THAT MOVIE, let’s talk about A SIMPLE LIFE, a small film with a simple story that could be fodder for a hackneyed Hallmark weepie. However, Ann Hui’s flawless storytelling and character development, plus the pitch-perfect performances from Andy Lau and Deanie Ip, demand the sort of experience that only a cinema can provide. Ann Hui’s touch can be seen as distant and unforthcoming, yet it yields tremendous rewards in that it doesn’t tell audiences what to feel and instead immerses them in the characters’ lives. Actions and decisions are performed wordlessly, but words aren’t necessary because situation, mood and performance have led the audience to the same place as the characters. Isaac Chambers says that the film “turns a simple story about life into a triumph of movie storytelling,” while Emanuele Sacchi of Hong Kong Express calls it “a lesson of quiet and sober perfection.” A SIMPLE LIFE is also a shining exemplar of Hong Kong’s elusive “local cinema,” i.e., quality filmmaking that focuses on Hong Kong’s unique experiences and stories, and that doesn’t have to kowtow to other Asian territories or even mainland China to get made. A SIMPLE LIFE received the “quality marketing” treatment in Hong Kong, building slow buzz off Deanie Ip’s Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival in September 2011 before finally reaching HK cinemas in March 2012 - a long wait but one that prompted many people who normally don’t go to the cinema to do so. Hell, even my mother-in-law went. As for Ann Hui, A SIMPLE LIFE marked her fourth Best Director Hong Kong Film Award, a number that’s ballooned to six in the decade since. It’s arguable that the 2010s were really Hui’s decade, but it’s irrefutable that the entirety of Hong Kong New Wave Cinema owes her an incalculable debt. Thanks for all the great movies, Ann.

With A SIMPLE LIFE downed, THE BEST HONG KONG FILM OF THE 2010s is obviously:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1. PARASITE (2019) - 2046 points, 0604 first place votes - IMDB page

Parasite

Well, this was a surprise! Congrats to Bong Joon-ho and his masterpiece combo of black comedy, home invasion thriller, social critique, disaster porn, songs as mnemonic devices, and Song Kang-ho acting clinic. He and his film deserve every award they receive. However, I have a question: What the hell, people? Seriously: Hong Kong is not Korea. Chinese are not Koreans. Some film bloggers have actually said their favorite genres are action, anime and Asian - dude, “Asian” is not a genre and Koreans and Chinese should not be grouped so indiscriminately. I find this sort of reductionist Western thinking to be exceptionally problematic and alarmingly pernicious. It’s current year and I can’t even. Also, a message to Korean Cinema: Stay in your lane, bro. You’ve already taken all the film fest attention and hypnotized those Oscar people - leave Hong Kong alone and muscle in on Japan’s turf. Make a TORA-SAN movie or something and steal their shine instead of ours. This isn’t to take away from how good PARASITE is - yes, it’s a great film and I get that many people liked it, but leave some space for other people’s work. I mean, it’s more than a little weird to crown a Korean film the BEST HONG KONG FILM OF THE 2010s. And as long as we’re being honest, the original 1982 PARASITE starring Demi Moore was a whole lot better.
.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Sorry, I do this every time because I have to amuse myself somehow. Otherwise it feels just like a job and I already have one of those. As expected, THE BEST HONG KONG FILM OF THE 2010s is:

1. THE GRANDMASTER (2013) - 542.5 points, 21 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

The Grandmaster

Give it up for THAT MOVIE. At one point during the exquisitely gorgeous and artful THE GRANDMASTER, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai’s Ip Man describes how the Chinese characters for kung fu are composed of the “vertical” and the “horizontal.” This refers to the outcome of a fight, when one combatant stands vertically as the victor, while the other lies horizontally as the defeated. Well, in the 2010s Wong Kar-Wai and his opulent martial arts drama achieved the vertical, forcing all other Hong Kong films to take a horizontal dirt nap thanks to the overwhelming love accorded this long-awaited and vaguely over-hyped modern classic. In short: People like THE GRANDMASTER. According to this site’s reader votes, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai has starred in the best film from each of the last three decades, and Wong Kar-Wai would have done the same if not for that meddling INFERNAL AFFAIRS. More significant is how Wong has subtly matured as a filmmaker. Most Wong Kar-Wai movies are preoccupied with the self and all its narcissistic, pathetic, and painful excesses. In THE GRANDMASTER, the struggle is to achieve not by besting your foes, but by resisting self-gratification and passing your philosophies on. Ip Man is not the Grandmaster because he gets the girl and the chip - it’s his humility and sense of responsibility that enable him to quietly and selflessly achieve immortality. That’s an idea worthy of THE BEST HONG KONG FILM OF THE 2010s. As for the filmmakers, let’s call it now and say that the BEST HONG KONG MOVIE OF THE 2020s will be whatever film Wong Kar-Wai and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai collaborate on in the coming decade. I’m hoping it’ll be another sequel to DAYS OF BEING WILD but whatever it is it’ll probably open Cannes, win the Golden Bear, end hunger, and find Jimmy Hoffa’s remains. Well, maybe not all those things, but everyone will love it because they always do. Statistics say so.

And that’s all she wrote for THE BEST 75 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 2010s. Sorry for all the crappy jokes and please don’t cancel me. I’d like to thank my wife, my children, and also my agent for getting me this gig. I’m firing my agent next week, though, because that’s what you do when you level up in life: Get rid of all the people currently around you so you can go on to bigger and better things. I believe this is one of life’s rules. Seriously, it’s in the Bible.

LoveHKFilm.com will now return to its indefinite hiatus of no new reviews or anything else, but check back in a bit (maybe a few days or a week) for a full list of voting results, including ties, just-misses, and the sad final fate of GOLDEN JOB. We’ll also throw in nifty facts and statistics because they’re free.

Thanks again for stopping by and always remember: Sometimes you must step on the gas, and sometimes you must step on the brake. This is me stepping on the brake.

Ekin Cheng
“Thank you and goodbye!”

21 Responses to “The Best 75 Hong Kong Films of the 2010s - Numbers 5-1”

  1. Paul Says:

    Congrats on a jab well done sir. Thanks for doing it! I’ve greatly enjoyed the write-ups!

  2. tex Says:

    ‘class above “A+” if such classes actually existed.’
    In esports, there can be S rank or S class.
    I am sad to see the list end. The next one is probably in a decade. I look forward to being surprised then.
    Thank you for doing the list. I was so excited when I saw your initial post asking for votes. Unfortunately, I saw it too late to consider voting. It made me very happy though, since another Kozo Best of list was coming.

  3. Valerie Soe Says:

    thanks so much! this list brightened my life for a brief period of time.

  4. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @Valerie, my wife says that about our marriage.

  5. Veronica Says:

    Yes, it was great fun. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
    I wouldn’t cry for LoveHKFilm.com returning to its hiatus…for now..
    But I’m here in Ten years’ time when you post a notice saying…”Voting now open for the Best Hong Kong Films of the 2020s. Yep, we’re doing this again, and again.”

  6. John R. Says:

    Ahhhh! Thank you for this! The bright spot of this plague summer. What a ride!

  7. Tim Chuma Says:

    I need to watch Gallants again, I remember quite liking it. The Grandmaster was so boring. South Korea earned its’ praise through 20 years of hard work and a specific government cultural policy of actually supporting the film industry. I am still posting reviews on ImpulseGamer and my own blog as my website is too much of a pain in the arse to update these days.

  8. Kenny Says:

    Great list! I was very surprised by The Grandmaster topping the list. The movie was really pretty to look at, but I couldn’t identify with the characters or the story. Maybe Wong Kar Wai just isn’t my cup of tea… Anways, thanks for compiling this list and hopefully you’ll step on the gas once in a while between now and the 2020s List!

  9. Phil Says:

    This list was fun to read through. Gave me a lot of stuff to search for and watch.

    Haha didn’t know that Johnnie To and Election 3 backstory. That film’s been stuck on the back burner for quite a while; I think he said he started work on it in 2016 or so. With the political turmoil of the past year, wonder if he’d think about it releasing it in the next couple of years.

    On that note, it may be just me but Louis Koo’s role in the real life HK entertainment industry is starting to resemble his character Jimmy’s fate from Election 2: the businessman who wants a share of the Mainland trove of riches but ends up getting caught in its politics. That or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    Anyways thanks once again for the list Kozo! Stay safe in HK!

  10. Isaac Chambers Says:

    Thank you very much for compiling and writing up this fantastic list. I believe the list is more important than ever, as it really helps to remind people that there are still a good number of awesome Hong Kong films being made these days.

    Also, thanks a lot for including our quotes and linking to our site so many times. If 2020 doesn’t kill us all, we will see you again in 2030 when we contribute to and read the 2020s list!

    We’re certainly looking forward to that; and till then, take care and stay safe, Ross the Boss!

  11. Dominic Lee Says:

    A bang-up job as always. Thanks for the entertaining read!

    p.s. I told you the Raptors would beat the Warriors.

  12. AnotherPhil Says:

    Thanks so much for doing this! There’s quite a few titles that got my attention, and watching them with reasonable expectations makes everything look less bad, the state of the world and the state of the HK film industry. Which one`s in a worse shape I wonder…

  13. Daranee Says:

    00340434185818458561

  14. Blaize Says:

    I just discovered this site a few months ago because I somehow found myself watching a dumb rom-com starring the twin Tonys Leung called “Tom, Dick and Hairy”, and I was desperate to find any kind of English-language review of it. As a white dude who’s kindling an appreciation for Hong Kong Cinema now that I’ve seen just how much better their action movies are than American action movies, this site for me has been like hitting the jackpot. So thank you for everything, Mr. Kozo! Even in 2020 there is a use for a Web site as antique as this one. I have a lot of films to discover thanks to you!

  15. Jessica Says:

    Thanks so much for compiling this! I really enjoyed the summaries and now have more films on my to-watch list. Nice one with the Parasite joke; you had me believing you for a few seconds!

  16. David Cochrane Says:

    . . . and Wong Kar-wai takes his latest victory lap, with Johnnie To still not quite able to crack the top two spots.

    Interesting that eight of the top ten came out from 2010 through 2013, and none of them came out after 2016. Do you attribute that to a genuine dry spell in good Hong Kong movies, or is it more likely down to the site’s readers being less familiar with titles made after that point?

  17. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @Blaize, I’m glad you still find the site useful, even though it’s no longer being updated. I’m also jealous that you’re still in the position to “discover” Hong Kong Cinema — for me, that time was the mid-nineties and it was an exceptionally fun time. If you need more opinions or recommendations, please feel free to drop by the site’s Facebook group to talk to people there.

    @David Cochrane, I’m not sure if the site’s inactivity had anything to do with the greater early-2010s representation. I think a lot of it is just people take time (even years) to catch up. When we did the 2000s vote, there was also greater representation of early-2000s films. It’s just a flaw in running a decade vote so close to a decade ending.

    That said, I think we’ve been in a dry spell for good Hong Kong movies for upwards of 10 years. And it’s still going.

  18. Donald Simmons Says:

    So many movies I have to see now. Thanks for all your work!

  19. madbao Says:

    Just revisiting to say, nice throwback to the early days of your site…though you are geting a little Chromium Fence on us. Strange feeling knowing that Life Without Principle was without a doubt the worst disappointment from a yuge Johnnie To fan (probably the last truly appreciated movie was Sparrow). I watched it with a lifelong friend who was equally disappointed; 2019 found us on opposite sides of the fence, unfortunately. ’tis life.

    To quoth numero uno: ‘any great age is, at its heart, a decision to stay or go’. Long after the server goes down and your treasure trove of reviews is no longer accessible to the non-existent populace ( “Hong Kong? You mean the foot?”), the lights will still flicker, but not quite go out, in the dim some mind of this local movie lover. ‘Til then, chic chicanery….

  20. Michael Wells Says:

    Louis Koo still sucks. Nothing will ever change my mind.

  21. Michael Wells Says:

    LoveHKFilm.com still rocks. Nothing will ever change my mind.

Leave a Reply

Before you submit form:
Human test by Not Captcha
 
 
LoveHKFilm.com Copyright © 2002-2020 Ross Chen