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The Best 200 Hong Kong Films Ever

Written by Kozo Tell a Friend

Originally published on LoveHKFilm.com. Reprinted with permission.


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?




200. IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4 (1989)
- directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 12 points


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


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


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


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


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


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 Movies of the Aughts.


194. HONG KONG 1941 (1984)
- directed by Leung Po-Chi - 13 points


Chow Yun-Fat turns in one of his most charismatic performances in this harrowing wartime drama. Cecilia 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 (2001)
- directed by Wilson Yip - 15 points


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


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


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


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


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. Michelle 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


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


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


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


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.


169 (TIE). SUMMER SNOW (1995)
- directed by Ann Hui - 16 points


Ann Hui makes her first appearance on this list with this lauded and accomplished drama starring award-winners Josephine Siao and Roy Chiao. Now out of print on DVD, which sucks. Ranked #56 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


169 (TIE). A BETTER TOMORROW 2 (1987)
- directed by John Woo - 16 points


Two things make A Better Tomorrow 2: Chow Yun-Fat eating fried rice and also John Woo's crazy action climax. Says Jeff Goodhartz, "If ever a finale made a movie, it's this one. Still the most watched final 15 minutes in my collection." Ranked #13 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s, behind the original A Better Tomorrow. Obviously.


168. THE STOOL PIGEON (2010)
- directed by Dante Lam - 16 points


Dante Lam's follow-up to The Beast Stalker cemented his reputation as one of Hong Kong's best action filmmakers while again showcasing Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung as first-rate actors and leading men. Also: Gooey!


168. AIR HOSTESS (1959)
- directed by Evan Yang - 16 points, 1 first place vote


Cathay Studios vehicle for the radiant Grace Chang, who plays a neophyte flight attendant determined to make it on her own. So Feng and Julie Yeh are the flight attendant pals and Roy Chiao is the pilot love interest. A romantic, colorful and irresistible commercial film.


166 (TIE). YOUNG AND DANGEROUS 3 (1996)
- directed by Andrew Lau - 17 points


Ben Soh calls Young and Dangerous 3 "the best representation of mid-nineties Hong Kong flashy youth triad films," and notes that "the climax funeral gang brawl is the most badass of HK triad films yet." Agreed on both counts, though the film still ranks lower on this list than the original Young and Dangerous. Whoops, spoiler! Ranked #52 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


166 (TIE). THE TAI-CHI MASTER (1993)
- directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 17 points


Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh's earliest team-up is a classic Hong Kong Cinema film — and it's so great, that we should forgive them for making The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor together later in their careers. Several light years better than those recent films with Tai Chi in the title. You know, the ones with Angelababy. Ranked #39 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


164. MCDULL, PRINCE DE LA BUN (2004)
- directed by Toe Yuen - 17.5 points


Toe Yuen's McDull, Prince de la Bun didn't even rank on our previous Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, but here it manages to surpass the original McDull. Actually, it should because it's more complex, more emotional and a whole lot more accomplished. This is a kids movie that only adults can truly appreciate.


163. SCHOOL ON FIRE (1988)
- directed by Ringo Lam - 17.5 points


Seminal triads-in-high-school drama from the warm-and-cuddly Ringo Lam still shocks thanks to its harrowing situations and gritty realism. Also, unlike City on Fire, Prison on Fire, etc., they actually set the school on fire in School on Fire. Extra points for truth in advertising, guys! Ranked #36 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


162. BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (1972)
- directed by Chang Cheh and Pao Hsueh-Li - 17.5 points, 1 first place vote


Chen Kuan-Tai is Ma Wing-Jing in this classic Shaw Brothers actioner. Eldridge116 says, "Everything clicked in this Chang Cheh masterpiece: the acting, the story, the fighting (the teahouse fight that concluded the film was simply amazing). A childhood favorite that remains my pick for best Hong Kong film ever." Hope number 162 on this list is good enough for you, eldridge116.


161. FULLTIME KILLER (2001)
- directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 18 points


Super postmodern even by Milkyway Image standards, Fulltime Killer gets props for its unusual teaming of Andy Lau and the Great Teacher Onizuka himself, Takashi Sorimachi. Based on a novel by Pang Ho-Cheung, who actually isn't very fond of the film. Ranked #30 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


160. INTIMATE CONFESSIONS OF A CHINESE COURTESAN (1972)
- directed by Chor Yuen - 18.5 points


Erotic revenge tale from Chor Yuen stars Lily Ho as Ainu, a girl sold into prostitution and broken by her brothel's cunning madam (Betty Pei). Naturally, revenge is Ainu's next step. Filipe calls Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan "one of weirdest and most cruel films to come from Hong Kong in 70s." Noted as an inspiration for Naked Killer.


159. MAMBO GIRL (1957)
- directed by Evan Yang - 19 points


The quintessential Grace Chang vehicle, Mambo Girl stars the charismatic Chang as a young woman nicknamed "Mambo Girl" who goes in search of her birth mother. Evan Yang's beloved classic trumps its melodramatic plot thanks to infectious musical numbers featuring Chang's dazzling singing and dancing talents. One of the most popular films from the Cathay Film Library.


158. WINNERS AND SINNERS (1983)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 19 points


The first and best Lucky Stars movie clocks in at number 159. While dated today (Old, unattractive guys team up to fight crime? Uh…yay?), Winners and Sinners ably demonstrates the infectiously entertaining anything-goes-and-it-probably-will spirit of eighties Hong Kong Cinema. Ranked number 41 on our list of the Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


157. BIG BULLET (1996)
- directed by Benny Chan - 19 points


Action filmmaker extraordinaire Benny Chan arguably peaked with this vastly entertaining and enjoyable cop actioner starring Lau Ching-Wan and some excellent supporting actors, including Anthony Wong, Jordan Chan, Yu Rong-Guang, Theresa Lee and Francis Ng. At the time this was a new style of Hong Kong action filmmaking. It would be great to have that new style back. Ranked #69 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


156. FUTURE COPS (1993)
- directed by Wong Jing - 19 points, 1 first place vote


Look, it's a sign of the Apocalypse! Wong Jing's Street Fighter homage/ripoff is undeniably a very Hong Kong movie so its inclusion on this list is actually justifiable. Not so justifiable: that Future Cops somehow ranked higher than Tai-Chi Master or School on Fire. Or Summer Snow.


154 (TIE). NOMAD (1982)
- directed by Patrick Tam - 19.5 points


Filipe calls the film "the New Wave's greatest achievement and the finest film from Hong Kong's most underated filmmaker." That's a tall order, but Nomad fits the bill. Patrick Tam's melodrama about aimless, free-spirited youth retains its power even today. It helps that the star is some young kid named Leslie Cheung. Ranked #42 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


154 (TIE). MY HEART IS THAT ETERNAL ROSE (1989)
- directed by Patrick Tam - 19.5 points


Martin can handle this one: "Patrick Tam's artful eye oversees this unconventional entry in the heroic bloodshed cycle. A superb "Little" Tony performance, Joey Wong, some brutal action and Chris Doyle's stunning photography elevate My Heart is that Eternal Rose into the upper echelons of the genre." Also: evil Ng Man-Tat. Ranked #58 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


153. GOD OF GAMBLERS 2 (1990)
- directed by Wong Jing - 19.5 points


The first good Wong Jing movie to make this list, God of Gamblers 2 shrewdly folded Stephen Chow's All for the Winner character into the God of Gamblers franchise by teaming him up with the returning Andy Lau. Hilarity predictably ensues. Ranked #55 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, ahead of the "other" God of Gamblers 2 — you know, the one with Chow Yun-Fat.


152. JUSTICE, MY FOOT! (1992)
- directed by Johnnie To - 20 points


Chalk up another winner for Stephen Chow. This classic pairing with Anita Mui features Chow as a lawyer who uses quick thinking and copious wordplay to turn the tables on the opposition. Johnnie To directed but almost nobody calls this a Johnnie To movie. It's a Stephen Chow movie and don't you forget it. Ranked #87 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


151. ALL FOR THE WINNER (1990)
- directed by Jeff Lau - 20 points


Hey, another Stephen Chow movie on this list! Yawn. The genesis for the Chow character mentioned two slots back, All for the Winner was briefly the highest grossing film in Hong Kong Cinema history. That is, until it was dethroned by yet another film starring Stephen Chow. Ranked #48 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


150. ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967)
- directed by Chang Cheh - 20 points


Super-classic Shaw Brothers film that spawned a number of sequels plus an equally excellent Tsui Hark remake. Jimmy Wang Yu stars as a swordsman who is maimed, but thanks to some serious training he returns to take on all comers — sans arm, that is. A must-see of the swordplay genre.


149. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED (1998)
- directed by Patrick Yau - 20.5 points


A textbook example of how to screw with your audience, Patrick Yau's (actually Johnnie To's) Expect the Unexpected helped to define and deepen the Milkway Image style before anyone even realized that there was one. They should make a sequel just because nobody expects them to. Ranked #34 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


148. THE MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER (1979)
- directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 20.5 points


One of Sammo Hung's finest films — and there are a lot of them — features the venerable large one as a student of Wong Fei-Hong (played by classic Wong Fei-Hong actor Kwan Tak-Hing) who must take on wave after wave of bad guys in his master's absence. An action-comedy-martial arts flick in a class of its own.


147. METADE FUMACA (1999)
- directed by Riley Yip - 20.5 points


Once upon a time it looked like Riley Yip would carve out his own personal corner in Hong Kong Cinema history, and Metade Fumaca was a big reason why. An eclectic cast, abundant postmodernism and just the right dash of self-aware humor make this a turn-of-the-century Hong Kong Cinema gem. Ranked #66 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


146. THE BIG HEAT (1987)
- directed by Johnnie To and Andrew Kam - 20.5 points, 1 first place vote


For insane over-the-top action and gunplay, there are few better films than The Big Heat. This early actioner co-directed by Johnnie To may lack bullet ballet and intricate choreography but it has flying limbs, severed heads and perforated bad guys. Still awesome over twenty years later. Ranked #61 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


145. THE EAGLE SHOOTING HEROES (1993)
- directed by Jeff Lau - 20.5 points, 1 first place vote


Super all-star wackiness from Jeff Lau and Wong Kar-Wai that exhausts and entertains in likely equal portions. Wan says that Eagle Shooting Heroes is "a movie that never fails to tickle my funny bone, no matter how many times I watch it." The highlight, as always: Tony "Sausage Lips" Leung. Ranked #83 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


144. THE DEAF AND MUTE HEROINE (1971)
- directed by Wu Ma - 21 points


Chang Cheh-influenced swordplay film puts a female spin on the genre with its titular heroine. Helen Ma stars as the "can't hear, can't talk" swordswoman who makes off with some pearls and bloodily dispatches the many comers who futilely attempt to retrieve them from her. According to Jeff Goodhartz, The Deaf and Mute Heroine "trumps anything that King Hu or Chang Cheh were unleashing at the time."


143. AH YING (1983)
- directed by Allen Fong - 21 points


Acclaimed docudrama from Hong Kong New Wave director Allen Fong, who frustatingly made very few films. Ah Ying chronicles the growth of a young woman (Hui So-Ying) as she dabbles in Hong Kong's independent film scene, and is based in part on Hui's real-life experiences. A rare Hong Kong film that's actually about Hong Kong. Ranked #47 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


142. THE BEAST STALKER (2008)
- directed by Dante Lam - 21 points


Nicholas Tse gets top billing but Nick Cheung steals the attention, the movie and probably also your car from the parking lot. Cheung is a relatively small man but in The Beast Stalker he seems huge. Part of that is Dante Lam's ace direction, but most of the credit is Nick Cheung's. Oh, Nic Tse being shorter may have something to do with it too. Ranked #29 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


141. C'EST LA VIE, MON CHERI (1993)
- directed by Derek Yee - 21.5 points


Derek Yee's C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri offers three-dimensional characters and charming local color, and nimbly avoids the movie-of-the-week traps it should naturally fall into. Smart storytelling and better acting help to make this a tearjerker that stands the test of time. Anita Yuen won two consecutive Best Actress Hong Kong Film Awards starting with this film, and was briefly the biggest female star in Hong Kong.


140. JIANG HU - THE TRIAD ZONE (2000)
- directed by Dante Lam - 22 points


Dante Lam's quirky triad drama impresses even today, and Grady Hendrix tells us why: "Modern day Hong Kong film has made two great love stories, and this is the second. One of the best films made about the exhaustion, compromises, disappointments and stability of a long-term marriage. It doesn't hurt that it's also a great deconstruction of the triad genre." A key example of the genre change-ups Hong Kong excelled at during the late nineties and early aughts. Ranked #48 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


139. ROYAL TRAMP I & ROYAL TRAMP II (1992
- directed by Wong Jing - 22 points


At the eleventh hour, we combined the Royal Tramp movies into a single entry on this list, which doesn't mean anything except that it allowed another film to hopefully claim the spot vacated by one of these Royal Tramps. Not much to say here: Wong Jing made these films and they're super funny. Stephen Chow ruled the nineties like nobody's business. Royal Tramp ranked #58 and Royal Tramp II ranked #95 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


138. A FIGHTER'S BLUES (2000)
- directed by Daniel Lee - 22.5 points


Before he went exclusively style-over-substance, Daniel Lee directed fighting drama A Fighter's Blues, about an aging boxer (Andy Lau, in a mature and underrated performance) seeking a shot at redemption. Co-starring Japanese drama queen Takako Tokiwa. Billed as Andy Lau's 100th film. He would go on to make a whole lot more.


137. PROTEGE (2007)
- directed by Derek Yee - 22.5 points


Preachy but powerful drug trafficking drama with a killer cast, led by Andy Lau as a drug kingpin and Daniel Wu as the undercover cop drawn into his inner circle. Great acting and one spectacularly violent sequence has earned Protege solid cred among post-2000 Hong Kong films. Ranked #39 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


136. CHINESE ODYSSEY 2002 (2002)
- directed by Jeff Lau - 22.5 points


Jeff Lau has largely fallen out of favor in the new millennium, which is a shame because he made some of the most literate, creative and heartfelt nonsense comedies that Hong Kong Cinema has to offer. Case in point: Chinese Odyssey 2002, which is not to be confused with those other Chinese Odyssey films also directed by Jeff Lau. Did you know: Faye Wong won a Best Actress Award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society for this movie. Ranked #27 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


135. WU XIA (2011)
- directed by Peter Chan - 22.5 points


Peter Chan transports David Cronenberg's A History of Violence to early 1900s China, and delivers a stylish, quirky and sharply resonant take on the martial arts drama. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Donnie Yen both impress. Retitled Dragon in North America for reasons unknown to anyone here.


134. MIRACLES (1989)
- directed by Jackie Chan - 23 points


Jackie Chan delivers an homage to Frank Capra in his own inimitable style for Miracles a.k.a. Mr. Canton and Lady Rose. Probably Chan's most accomplished film back-to-front, with a good story, terrific cinematography and art direction, and solid performances accompanying the usual creative Chan action. Ranked #22 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


133. FINAL VICTORY (1987)
- directed by Patrick Tam- 23.5 points


Patrick Tam directed and Wong Kar-Wai wrote the screenplay. Isn't that reason enough for any international film geek, not to mention a faithful Hong Kong Cinema fan, to see Final Victory? Eric Tsang, Loletta Lee and Tsui Hark (!) star in this underworld-set Hong Kong concoction filled with all sorts of eighties excesses. Ranked #60 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


131 (TIE). MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK (2003)
- directed by Pang Ho-Cheung- 23.5 points


Hong Kong's reigning bad boy of the cinema, Vulgaria director Pang Ho-Cheung, cracks the list with his sharp black comedy Men Suddenly in Black. A biting but felt satire on infidelity and marriage politics, the film also boats a standout supporting performance from Tony Leung Ka-Fai. Ranked #22 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


131 (TIE). LOST AND FOUND (1996)
- directed by Lee Chi-Ngai - 23.5 points


Its quirkiness is dated but Lee Chi-Ngai's heartfelt Lost and Found is a solid tearjerker raised by Takeshi Kaneshiro, who's arguably never been more charismatic, righteous and aw-shucks lovable. This movie is so good that it makes Michael Wong tolerable. Ranked #49 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


130. THE CHINESE FEAST (1995)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 24 points


Tsui Hark makes Lunar New Year films too, except his are usually pretty damn good. For example, super-entertaining foodie comedy The Chinese Feast, which matches its intricate dishes and exotic ingredients with charismatic actors and a dash of anything-goes Hong Kong Cinema charm. Ranked #75 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


129. THE YOUNG MASTER (1981)
- directed by Jackie Chan - 24 points


Jackie Chan's second directorial work introduced his signature style to moviegoers, complete with prop-filled action sequences, self-effacing pratfalls and creatively choreographed fight sequences. Plot and story? Nothing special, but Jackie brought the danger, the impact and the most of all the comic surprise. There may never be another Jackie Chan so these are more than just films - they're treasures. Ranked #34 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s behind a bunch of other Jackie Chan films.


128. ALL'S WELL END'S WELL (1992)
- directed by Clifton Ko - 24 points


Probably the ultimate Lunar New Year comedy, Clifton Ko's perennial laffer earns super cred simply for the once-in-a-lifetime teaming of Leslie Cheung and Stephen Chow, with some Maggie Cheung, Teresa Mo and Sandra Ng thrown in for good measure. Raymond Wong also appears but do you really care? Probably not. It's on Hong Kong TV a million times every January and February. Ranked #62 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


127. DR. MACK (1995)
- directed by Lee Chi-Ngai - 24 points, 2 first place votes


One of the United Filmmakers Organizations most entertaining urban comedies, Dr. Mack features Tony Leung Chiu-Wai at his rakish, charismatic best as an irreverent doctor working on the streets of Hong Kong. Director Lee Chi-Ngai: why can't you make films like this anymore? Ranked #74 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


126. DUEL TO THE DEATH (1983)
- directed by Ching Siu-Tung - 24.5 points


Popular swordplay fantasy about a centuries-old martial arts war between Japan and China. Tsui Siu-Keung and Damian Lau face-off as, respectively, the Japanese and Chinese representatives, who enter into their Duel to the Death while political nastiness, flying ninjas and other weirdness erupts around them. Ching Siu-Tung directed, and you're welcome. Ranked #37 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


125. POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP (1992)
- directed by Stanley Tong - 25 points


Michelle Yeoh rules the school in Police Story 3: Supercop. She's a mainland cop who teams with some Hong Kong cop to take on drug smugglers in China and Malaysia. Yeoh's awesome stuntwork and ass-kicking prowess made her the action heroine of the nineties. Her co-star, something Chan, was okay too. Ranked #22 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


124. FORBIDDEN CITY COP (1996)
- directed by Vincent Kok and Stephen Chow - 25.5 points


Chalk up another one for Stephen Chow. The world's funniest media recluse stars in this side-splitting period comedy alongside Carina Lau and Carmen Lee. Says Wan, "My whole family almost died watching this. I swear our guts almost spilt during the magnet scene. We made it out with minimal injuries." Ranked #42 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


122 (TIE). MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS (2002)
- directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 25.5 points


Surprise, Johnnie To's non-crime films can rank on popular Hong Kong Cinema lists too! Sammi Cheng and Lau Ching-Wan star in this deceptively silly comedy about a woman who sees ghosts. A genuinely surprising and emotional comedy, and we should thank Wai Ka-Fai just as much as Johnnie To. Ranked #40 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


122 (TIE). CHICKEN AND DUCK TALK (1988)
- directed by Clifton Ko - 25.5 points


Clifton Ko directed Chicken and Duck Talk but the straw that stirs this drink is writer-star Michael Hui. This comedy about warring restaurants in Hong Kong is resonant even today thanks to Hui's scathing and honest look at how greedy, scheming and innately decent Hong Kong people really are. Ranked #27 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s. There's an HD master of this floating around, so where's that Blu-ray?


121. CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (2006)
- directed by Zhang Yimou - 26 points


Knock it for being an over-the-top China costume drama, but Zhang Yimou gives Curse of the Golden Flower wicked, dark smarts that trump its made-for-the-masses art direction and genre. Jay Chou is a bit out of place, though. Based on Cao Yu's play Thunderstorm, which had nothing to do with curses or golden flowers. Ranked #40 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


120. HEROES OF THE EAST (1978)
- directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 26 points


Snowblood says that Heroes of the East is "that rare thing: a kung-fu film all about respect for other cultures." The joined-at-the-hip duo of director Lau Kar-Leung and star Gordon Liu present this China vs. Japan martial arts extravaganza about a Chinese man (Liu) who must take on a variety of Japanese fighting masters. Swords, sectioned staffs, spears, drunken boxing, promotion of positive Japan-China relations — Heroes of the East has it all.


119. OUR SISTER HEDY (1957)
- directed by Tao Qin - 26 points, 1 first place vote


One of the most beloved films from the Cathay Film Library, Our Sister Hedy stars Jeanette Lin Cui, Mu Hong, Julie Yeh Feng and So Fung as four sisters ready to leave the nest — and their father and sole parent Wang Yuan-Long has a hard time dealing with it! A funny, sweet and of course affecting romantic dramedy about love, family and the bond of sisterhood.


118. SONG OF THE EXILE (1990)>
- directed by Ann Hui - 26.5 points


Acclaimed but relatively under-appreciated drama from Ann Hui about the troubled relationship between a mother (Luk Siu-Fun) and her daughter (Maggie Cheung). Heavily drawn from the director's own life, Song of the Exile explores the history and identity of these uniquely Hong Kong people and manages to affect without overt sentimentality. As Ann Hui's onscreen stand-in, Maggie Cheung is flawless. Of course.


115 (TIE). WILD SEARCH (1989)
- directed by Ringo Lam - 26.5 points


Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie Chung team up for the umpteenth time in Ringo Lam's remake of Peter Weir's Witness. Not as intense or bloody as Lam's more popular films, Wild Search compensates with gentle romance and yet another unhinged turn from the always awesome Roy Cheung. Ranked #44 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


115 (TIE). THE FIVE VENOMS (1978)
- directed by Chang Cheh - 26.5 points


The Centipede, the Snake, the Lizard, the Toad and the Scorpion unite in Chang Cheh's cult classic martial arts flick The Five Venoms, also known as The Five Deadly Venoms. Besides its fight sequences and fake-looking blood, Five Venoms offers an inventive storyline and some outlandish animal-based fighting styles. The Wu Tang Clan and Quentin Tarantino love this movie, if that matters to you.


115 (TIE). JULY RHAPSODY (2001)
- directed by Ann Hui - 26.5 points


Ann Hui's 2001 drama reaffirmed Hui's masterclass skills and Jacky Cheung's acting chops, but it should also be remembered because it introduced us to one of the decade's best actresses in Karena Lam. Also starring Anita Mui and Eric Kot, July Rhapsody ranked #32 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


114. TIME AND TIDE (2000)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 27 points


Tsui Hark returned from Hollywood and Jean-Claude Van Damme monitor duty with Time and Tide, an awesome actioner that's got trademark Tsui Hark zaniness to spare. Nicholas Tse stars but Taiwan rocker Wu Bai steals the show. Just made the cut of our Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts countdown, coming in at #50.


113. AS TEARS GO BY (1988)
- directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 27 points


It's just another triad movie but it also happens to be directed by that Wong Kar-Wai guy. The cult of WKW pretty much started here, and As Tears Go By checks in as the first of Wong's films to make it to this BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER list. Who wants to bet that every single one of his other features shows up? Well, maybe not The Grandmaster. As Tears Go By ranked #10 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


112. PERHAPS LOVE (2005)
- directed by Peter Chan - 27.5 points


The musical as re-imagined by Peter Chan with assists from Yee Chung-Man, Christopher Doyle and Farah Khan, Perhaps Love is regarded by site reader Danny as "perhaps (no pun intended) the most beautiful Hong Kong film to ever grace the big screen." A tad underrated due to its focus on love's bitter rather than sweet qualities, the film also boasts stellar performances from Zhou Xun and Jacky Cheung. Ranked #45 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


111. FEARLESS (2006)
- directed by Ronny Yu - 27.5 points


Huo-Huo-Huo-Huo-Huo-Huo! Yeah, that Jay Chou song for Fearless about martial artist Huo Yuan-Jia was kind of silly but the movie and the man himself were not. Jet Li stars in one of his later-day signature roles as a revered teacher and real-life hero who fought for the pride of the Chinese people against dastardly foreigners. Ekin Cheng played Huo Yuan-Jia in a TV drama but we're guessing that Jet Li did a better job of it. Fearless ranked #30 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


110. YOUNG AND DANGEROUS (1996)
- directed by Andrew Lau - 28 points


Andrew Lau and Ekin Cheng rocketed to bankability with the first of this seminal triad saga, which glorified the gang life while earning tattoo parlors more than a few extra bucks. Wong Jing is currently remaking the Young and Dangerous series but it'll be tough to make audiences forget about Ekin Cheng's iconic portrayal of Chan Ho-Nam. And making us forget about Ekin's hair? Impossible. Young and Dangerous ranked #26 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


109. THE ARCH (1968)
- directed by Cecile Tang Shu-Shuen - 28 points, 1 first place vote


The legendary first feature from China Behind director Cecile Tang is a stylized period melodrama about a widow (Lisa Lu Yan) who upholds feudal virtue by suppressing her love for a cavalry captain (Roy Chiao) in favor of her daughter. One of the first modern Chinese films to achieve international acclaim.


108. ENTER THE DRAGON (1973)
- directed by Robert Clouse - 28.5 points


A Hollywood-Hong Kong co-production that will forever be memorable thanks to cheese-ball dialogue like, "Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all of the heavenly glory!" Bruce Lee rocketed to international superstardom with Enter the Dragon, but we must not forget Jim Kelly as Williams, who unfortunately died because he was "too busy looking gooooood." Oh, this film also has fighting.


106 (TIE). SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS (1980)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 28.5 points


Another super-entertaining Sammo Hung film, Spooky Encounters a.k.a. Encounters of the Spooky Kind is a seminal entry in Hong Kong's unique horror-comedy genre. Lee Rankin calls the film, "my favorite Hong Kong horror movie thanks to some inventive and perfectly choreographed set pieces and some surprisingly creepy and tense moments." Ranked #33 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


106 (TIE). POLICE STORY 2 (1988)
- directed by Jackie Chan - 28.5 points


Police Story 2 makes the cut, joining Supercop as the second Police Story movie among the BEST HONG KONG MOVIES EVER. Jackie Chan's second outing as Chan Ka-Kui is more of the same, only this time with extra Maggie Cheung and even more Charlie Cho (Woo!). The chance that the original Police Story shows up in one of the next 106 slots: 100%. Ranked #17 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


105. ONCE A THIEF (1991)
- directed by John Woo - 28.5 points


Mick calls Once a Thief "uneven, but Chow Yun-Fat in a wheelchair gives Cary Grant a run for his money." Chow is in fine form in this John Woo laffer, which goes light on the action but doubles down on the comedy and coolness. Cherie Chung is the supposed love interest but Chow seems more enamored of his co-star Leslie Cheung. Unfortunately for slash fiction fans, their bromance stays platonic. Ranked #46 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


104. FULL ALERT (1997)
- directed by Ringo Lam - 29.5 points


Grady Hendrix calls Full Alert "Ringo Lam's last real film," saying it's "the summation of everything he'd done in his career and it hurts. Deceptively simple, Full Alert grows more and more complex the more and more you rewatch it." He's not wrong, as the film's grey-shaded characters and storyline only resonate further as we move deeper into the cynical 21st century. Also: Lau Ching-Wan vs. Francis Ng. Ranked #30 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, and it probably should have ranked a lot higher.


103. NAKED KILLER (1992)
- directed by Clarence Fok - 29.5 points, 1 first place vote


Category III filmmaking — one of Hong Kong's most notorious specialties — hasn't received much love on this list thus far but at least Naked Killer wasn't ignored. Smart, subversive exploitation that slices up all later attempts to cash in on its cult fame. The poster art may be as infamous as the movie itself. Ranked #68 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


102. PTU (2003)
- directed by Johnnie To - 30.5 points


Johnnie To's PTU took forever to finish, but the wait was worth it. This atmospheric and ironic journey into the Hong Kong night is thrilling, suspenseful and funny in all the right places. Milkyway Image mascot Lam Suet received acting nominations for his role in the film. Ranked #14 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


101. GREEN SNAKE (1993)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 31 points


It's ridiculous and hilariously baroque, but Tsui Hark's lurid take on the story of the immortal White and Green Snake is cinema to be savored. Joey Wong owns as the White Snake but Maggie Cheung is even better as the innocently devilish Green. Did you see the 2011 remake with Jet Li and Charlene Choi? If so, sorry. Ranked #36 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


100. WHEELS ON MEALS (1984)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 32.5 points


Pure fun from the Three Brothers of eighties Hong Kong Cinema. Sammo Hung directs but lets Yuen Biao and especially Jackie Chan shine, especially during his legendary fight with Benny "The Jet" Urquidez. Lola Forner, the food truck, the Spain escapades — whatever. Just know that Wheels on Meals has Jackie vs. The Jet and you're good to go. Ranked #16 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


99. SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW (1978)
- directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 33 points


Says Snowblood, "The "drunken beggar" is now an iconic cultural archetype, and it all started here." The directorial debut of Yuen Woo-Ping casts Jackie Chan as orphan Chien Fu and Yuen's father Yuen Siu-Tin as a drunken beggar who teaches Fu the secrets of the "Snake Fist." Unfortunately, Snake Fist has a big problem with the "Eagle Claw." A fun appetizer to Jackie Chan's later, greater achievements.


98. A HERO NEVER DIES (1998)
- directed by Johnnie To - 33 points


So overwrought with its tropes of honor and brotherhood that it surpasses parody and circles back around to full-on brilliance. Martin of A Hero Never Dies calls, uh, A Hero Never Dies "a searing deconstruction of the heroic bloodshed genre. Somehow To manages blackly comic and deadly serious at the same time. Also, it features the best character wardrobe in Hong Kong film!" One of the 1998's big three Milkyway Image films, along with Expect the Unexpected and The Longest Nite. Ranked #35 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


97. THE HEROIC TRIO (1993)
- directed by Johnnie To and Ching Siu-Tung - 33 points


The Heroic Trio features what Tim Chmielewski calls "A killer cast of hot Hong Kong starlets in a movie that manages to be funny, sweet, action-packed and sad at same time." Those starlets: Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and the late Anita Mui. They basically took the very top echelon of Hong Kong actresses at the time and put them into a single movie, and if anyone attempted to make this movie today we'd probably get a mixture of Charlene Choi, Fiona Sit and Chrissie Chau. My god that would be horrible. Ranked #47 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


96. DRAGONS FOREVER (1988)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 35 points


Phil Gillon calls Dragons Forever "A pure entertainment extravaganza," and that's probably an understatement. Also known by the alternative title Yuen Biao Steals Jackie Chan's Movie. Says Jeff Goodhartz, "If the Three Brothers are The Beatles, then Dragons Forever is their Abbey Road." Sounds about right. Ranked #20 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s and #1 on our list of MOST UNDERRATED YUEN BIAO PERFORMANCES EVER.


95. TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 (1997)
- directed by Wai Ka-Fai - 35 points


Milkyway Image masterpiece from Wai Ka-Fai that takes the triad genre, turns it upside down (in one scene, literally) and shakes it vigorously. More daring and stylized than any Johnnie To film and actually a whole lot better than most of them. The cast - Lau Ching-Wan, Francis Ng, Carman Lee, Elvis Tsui with a wig - is a super hoot too. Ranked #38 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, which sucks because it should have ranked higher.


94. THE WILD, WILD ROSE (1960)
- directed by Wong Tin-Lam - 35.5 points


Grace Chang delivers an eye-opening performance as a lusty nightclub singer climbing the social ladder in seedy Wanchai. Borrowing story and song elements from Georges Bizet's Carmen, this Wong Tin-Lam directed musical has flair and polish to rival Hollywood, and a superstar leading lady that any film industry would have a tough time matching! A key film from the celebrated Cathay Film Studios.


93. LOVE ON DELIVERY (1994)
- directed by Lee Lik-Chee - 35.5 points


Grady Hendrix can take this one away: "Love on Delivery is the first Hong Kong movie that blew me away. This is Stephen Chow at his best, with a finale that is so dazzling in its purity (Chow doesn't win by overcoming the odds, he wins by learning how to cheat, and by being even stupider than he's been before) that I have yet to see a movie that equals it." Martin says it simpler: "Gloriously silly, deceptively smart and most importantly absolutely hilarious. Not necessarily Chow's "best" film but his funniest for sure." Ranked #41 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


92. HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY FATHER (1993)
- directed by Peter Chan and Lee Chi-Ngai - 35.5 points, 1 first place vote


The UFO guys do Back to the Future one better with this heartwarming nostalgia piece featuring the two Tonys plus Carina Lau and Anita Yuen. Like Marty McFly, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai goes back in time and meets his parents. Unlike Marty McFly, he doesn't change the past or the future. Instead, he changes himself. Ranked #63 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


91. ALL ABOUT AH LONG (1989)
- directed by Johnnie To - 36.5 points


Popular melodrama featuring the classic pairing of Chow Yun-Fat and Sylvia Chang. Chow's terrible hair is a major standout — though obviously much less than the acting, storyline and heart-wrenching pathos. Directed by Johnnie To before he could cinematically articulate irony. Ranked #26 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


90. BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS (2009)
- directed by Teddy Chen - 36.5 points


This Teddy Chen (um, also Andrew Lau) award-winner about a fictional attempt on the life of Sun Yat-Sen did not place in our Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts reader vote, and that's because it came out in December 2009 and we also ran our poll in December 2009. Had we waited until people worldwide had seen Bodyguards and Assassins, we probably would have seen this historical action drama rank very high because of its stirring story, powerful acting, explosive action and, of course, DONNNIIEIEEEE. We still feel sorry for that horse.


89. THE LOVE ETERNE (1963)
- directed by Li Han-Hsiang - 36.5 points, 1 first place vote


Super-popular and much-awarded Shaw Brothers production based on the classic story "The Butterfly Lovers." Li Han-Hsiang directs this classic Huangmei Opera about Chu Ying Tai (Betty Loh Ti), who dresses as a boy to attend college and falls in love with Liang Shan Po (Ivy Ling Po). One of a zillion adaptions of "The Butterfly Lovers," but very likely the most beloved.


88. THE MILLIONAIRES' EXPRESS (1986)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 37.5 points, 1 first place vote


As both a star and a director, Sammo Hung owned the eighties, and incredibly entertaining movies like The Millionaires' Express are the reason why. According to Steve Gane, the movie has "an astonishing cast, astonishing stunts, non-stop action and the best double (Quintuple?) take in cinematic history by Richard Ng." Seriously, watch the movie and take a shot every time someone you recognize appears. You won't last an hour. Ranked #38 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


87. THE BIG BOSS (1971)
- directed by Lo Wei - 38.5 points


Bruce Lee's first martial arts film made in Hong Kong has an unoriginal plot, but the Little Dragon's power and screen charisma shone so brightly that history (and lots of money) was made. The highest grossing film in Hong Kong Cinema history until Fist of Fury came along a year later. The Big Boss is also known by the U.S. title Fists of Fury, thereby confusing people who have a problem with plurals.


86. FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE (1994)
- directed by Stephen Chow and Lee Lik-Chee - 41 points


Side-splitting parody of James Bond films starring Stephen Chow as a totally useless spy who nevertheless is a god at throwing knives. In true Stephen Chow style, that one single skill allows Ling Ling Chat (Chow) to save the day, get the girl (a fabulous Anita Yuen) and still annoy the crap out of everyone around him. Complete non-surprise: this won't be the last Stephen Chow movie to appear on this list. Ranked #25 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


85. LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE (2011)
- directed by Johnnie To - 41.5 points, 2 first place votes


Like PTU, Johnnie To's Life Without Principle was ages in the making but unlike PTU, this urban thriller has loftier goals. A razor sharp look at Hong Kong and its obsession with money, Life Without Principle is Johnnie To as socially relevant satirist - though the movie still has triads and cops. Lau Ching-Wan won his first Golden Horse Award for Best Actor as a loyal but inept triad caught in the midst of a financial meltdown.


84. CENTRE STAGE (1992)
- directed by Stanley Kwan - 42 points


Also known as The Actress, this Stanley Kwan docudrama put star Maggie Cheung on the road to multiple award-winning actress. Cheung won her second Best Actress Hong Kong Film Award for her flawless performance as silent film actress Ruan Ling-Yu. Ranked #43 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


83. THE WAY OF THE DRAGON (1972)
- directed by Bruce Lee - 43 points


Also known as Return of the Dragon, this Bruce Lee-directed effort is a personal fave of many. Ben Soh calls The Way of the Dragon the "most entertaining of Bruce Lee's films, with rare humor and solid action scenes. The presence of the ravishing Nora Miao is a big plus." Snowblood says "the comedy and cross-cultural confusion lift this above all other Bruce Lee films." For almost everyone else, The Way of the Dragon can be boiled down to this: Bruce Lee versus Chuck Norris. That is all.


82. SPL (2005)
- directed by Wilson Yip - 43 points


When SPL was released back in 2005, it was like a lifeline to a certain segment of the Hong Kong Cinema fan base. Just ask Ray, who says, "Just when I'd given up hope, SPL came along. So I forgive it all its flaws because it delights me." That pretty much explains the devotion to Wilson Yip's dark crime actioner, which features Donnie "I throw away my leather jackets like nothing" Yen versus Wu "killing is my pleasure and privilege" Jing in a five-minute alleyway fight sequence for the ages. The 90-plus minutes surrounding that fight are pretty good too. Ranked at an astounding #11 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


81. PRISON ON FIRE (1987)
- directed by Ringo Lam - 43.5 points


Genre-defining prison film from Ringo Lam casts Chow Yun-Fat in one of his most warm, charming and charismatic performances — and then the whole thing turns and Chow turns into a violent ragebeast and IT IS SCARY. Made back when Ringo Lam was possibly Hong Kong's most consistent and powerful filmmaker. Sorry, Prison On Fire II fans, it's not showing up anywhere on this list. Ranked a deservedly-high #15 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


80. LUST, CAUTION (2007)
- directed by Ang Lee - 44.5 points


It's questionably a "Hong Kong film", but we're including Lust, Caution because we allowed it on our Top Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts reader vote, where it ended up ranking #25. Anyway, Hong Kong's Edko Films has some money in Lust, Cautionand it stars one of Hong Kong's truly great actors in Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. Mondo Serious calls the film, "Sexy, subversive and sad," but we should also add "stunning, suspenseful and superlative." Because that's what the Lust, Caution is.


79. DIRTY HO (1979)
- directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 45 points


While often mistaken for a politically-incorrect documentary about unhygenic prostitution, Dirty Ho makes converts of audiences thanks to its sublime blend of comedy and martial arts action. Lau Kar-Leung directs frequent partner Gordon Liu as an incognito prince who trains a brash young jewel thief named Ho (Wong Yue) to help him stop a royal coup. Snowblood calls Dirty Ho, "Beautifully intricate, fast-paced kung-fu with top performances all-round." Co-starring Shaw Brothers mainstays Kara Hui and Lo Lieh.


78. CRIPPLED AVENGERS (1978)
- directed by Chang Cheh - 45 points


Most of the Venom Mob returned for this entertaining Chang Cheh classic about four disabled fighters seeking revenge on the evil father/son team (Chen Kuan-Tai and Lu Feng) who maimed them. Trained in new techniques and oufitted with gadgetry to compensate for their disabilities, the four fight back as only Crippled Avengers know how! Or something. While decidedly over-the-top and ridiculous, Crippled Avengers is also a prime example of what made Chang Cheh's Shaw Brothers actioners so delirously enjoyable.


77. THE WAY WE ARE (2008)
- directed by Ann Hui - 45 points, 1 first place vote


The Way We Are missed our Top 50 HONG KONG MOVIES OF THE AUGHTS countdown, but it was not denied here. Says Martin, "Ann Hui's understated study of everyday life mostly consists of scenes of its characters buying food, cooking food and eating food. It may not be your action packed Hong Kong Cinema fix, but in The Way We Are Hui manages to turn the mundane into something truly special." Hui pulled off a similar achievement three years later with a film that may show up later on this list. You've all heard of it, right?


76. HE'S A WOMAN, SHE'S A MAN (1994)
- directed by Peter Chan - 46.5 points, 2 first place votes


Commercial, crowd-pleasing and yet successful on so many levels and in so many little ways that it transcends its genre to become something far more. Peter Chan's He's a Woman, She's a Man is the Victor/Victoria like story of Wing (Anita Yuen), who crossdresses as a man to get close to her idols, music producer Sam (Leslie Cheung) and his superstar muse Rose (Carina Lau). Super beloved and also super hard to find on DVD anymore. Ranked #28 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


75. THE LONGEST NITE (1998)
- directed by Patrick Yau - 47 points


Grim, nihilistic and exhilarating crimer from Patrick Yau (or maybe Johnnie To). Tony Leung Chiu-Wai makes his lone Milkyway Image appearance as a bad cop versus a bad criminal organization and the bad fixer (Lau Ching-Wan) who arrives in town to dispense baaaaaad punishment. Along with Expect the Unexpected and A Hero Never Dies, The Longest Nite announced Milkyway Image as the premier crime film factory in Asia and probably anywhere else. Ranked #31 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


74. ON THE RUN (1988)
- directed by Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting - 47.5 points


Overlooked thriller that's so historically underrated that it's now in danger of being overrated. Jeff Goodhartz can start this off: "Best neo-noir I've ever seen, from Hong Kong or anywhere else. Yuen Biao commands the screen without using a single martial arts maneuver." Phil Gillon echoes the Yuen Biao praise, saying that On the Run "proves beyond a doubt that Yuen Biao should have had more opportunities to be the lead." Finally, Lee Rankin calls On the Run an "Incredibly dark and grounded Yuen Biao thriller. Contains some truly shocking moments, some great performances and some brutal action. An oft overlooked gem." Ranked a pretty high #31 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


73. BOAT PEOPLE (1982)
- directed by Ann Hui - 48 points


Time Out Hong Kong ranked Boat People #2 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hong Kong Films — no small praise for the third film in Ann Hui's "Vietnam Trilogy", following Boy From Vietnam and Story of Woo Viet. George Lam stars and Andy Lau makes his first screen appearance in this drama about a photojournalist (Lam) delving into the terrible plight of the "Boat People", Vietnamese refugees living in Hong Kong. Winner of Best Picture and Best Director Awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, Boat People ranked #25 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s. Not exactly a #2 rank, but our readers had to put The Killer somewhere.


72. LONG ARM OF THE LAW (1984)
- directed by Johnny Mak - 48 points


Martin calls Long Arm of the Law: "Raw and powerful. Johnny Mak's crime drama is pure hunger and brutal desperation." That's one way to describe this bleak eighties flick about a bunch of Mainland thieves who arrive in Hong Kong for a big score, only to find that it's not so hard being Mainland thieves in Hong Kong. Part social drama, part crime thriller and all take-no-prisoners masterpiece, this is the type of movie that Johnnie To might make if he wasn't so busy amusing himself. Ranked #18 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s — which is pretty amazing when you consider that it stars nobody you care about and is directed by someone you never talk about.


71. LOST IN TIME (2003)
- directed by Derek Yee - 48 points


The closest Derek Yee has come to delivering C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri 2. Cecilia Cheung won a deserved Best Actress Hong Kong Film Award for her emotional role as a grieving widow who takes up her dead husband's job as a minibus driver. As the colleague who helps her through her grief, Lau Ching-Wan is easily Cheung's equal — except he didn't win an award. LOST IN TIME ranked #17 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, which is pretty high for something that doesn't involve action or Johnnie To. It does have triads, though.


70. DRAGON INN (1992)
- directed by Raymond Lee - 48.5 points


A remake that begat a sequel, Dragon Inn was directed by Raymond Lee — but who are we kidding: the name that matters is producer Tsui Hark. Ching Siu-Tung helped on the action for this inn-set epic about a bunch of rebels (Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Ka-Fai) and an amoral innkeeper (Maggie Cheung) who battle a powerful eunuch (Donnie Yen before he was DONNNNIEEEEE). Considering this story has iterations in three successive generations of Chinese-language cinema, they should just schedule a remake every 20 years. Ranked #33 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


69. THE BLADE (1995)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 48.5 points


A remake of the film ranking #151 on this list, The Blade is Tsui Hark's deconstructionist swordplay film, a bold and brutal journey into the rigid mores and ironic conundrums of jiang hu. As an art film, The Blade gets some cred but its true power is in the dizzying action sequences brought to intense, acrobatic life by Vincent Zhao and Xiong Xin-Xin. Ranked #27 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s and it could be higher if it had better video distribution.


68. FLIRTING SCHOLAR (1993)
- directed by Lee Lik-Chee - 48.5 points, 2 first place votes


Huangmei opera-based Flirting Scholar stars Stephen Chow as irascible scholar Tong Pak-Fu, who pretends to be a peasant to romance the comely Gong Li. So lighting-fast funny that it could damage if not permanently cripple your funny bone. Nearly twenty years later, director Lee Lik-Chi attempted sequel-prequel Flirting Scholar 2 with Huang Xiaoming as Tong Pak-Fu. The silence was deafening. Flirting Scholar ranked #60 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


67. DANGEROUS ENCOUNTER - 1ST KIND (1980)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 49.5 points


Jeff Goodhartz calls Dangerous Encounter - 1st Kind "The most nihilistic, most rage filled film ever made. There's never been anything else quite like it. Far and away my fave Tsui Hark film (except for the mouse abuse, that is)." Animal cruelty is a downer, but so is the rest of Tsui Hark's dark, violent look at young kids who engage in mischief and then watch the whole thing spiral into the darkest recesses of hell. Featuring that all-important staple of Hong Kong Cinema: terrible Caucasian actors who play the bad guys! Ranked #33 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


66. FULL CONTACT (1992)
- directed by Ringo Lam - 50 points


A bit flashy for the usually grounded Ringo Lam, Full Contact still makes the grade thanks to its delirious B-grade action cinema tropes and its all-star cast of scenery chewers. Chow Yun-Fat stars but Simon Yam steals the film and also Chow's lunch money. Martin offers his checklist of reasons why Full Contact kicks major ass: "Iconic Chow Yun-Fat performance? Check. Superb action sequences? Check. Serious hot licks? Check. Best HK cinema villain ever? Check. Need I say more?" No, but you forgot to mention the cool-ass bullet cam. Ranked #44 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


65. IRON MONKEY (1993)
- directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 50.5 points


It's the adventures of Li'l Wong Fei-Hong! Yuen Woo-Ping directs this enormously fun kung-fu film starring the always-underrated Yu Rong-Guang as Dr. Yang, a dedicated doctor who moonlights as the revolutionary hero Iron Monkey. Wong Fei-Hong is played by a girl, the young Angie Tsang, while her father Wong Kei-Ying is played by Donnie Yenbefore he became the Most Powerful Man in the Universe. Ranked #20 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s. Quentin Tarantino has promoted this film, but you should enjoy it despite his endorsement.


64. PROJECT A PART II (1987)
- directed by Jackie Chan - 53 points


Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao sit out Project A Part II, but writer-director-star-overlord Jackie Chan compensates by upping the creative action sequences and stuntwork to an astounding eleven. Walls, staircases and massive bamboo scaffolding are scampered over, smashed into and trod upon as Jackie and his super-huge cast dish up the laughs and the pain. Jeff Goodhartz calls Project A Part II "Jackie Chan's best and most professional film and the closest he ever came to emulating his American silent comic heroes." Ranked #28 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s — and really, that was way too low for Project A Part II.


63. A SIMPLE LIFE (2011)
- directed by Ann Hui - 53 points


It's that other Ann Hui movie about local Hong Kong life — an award-winning film that nobody was able to see until after it won all those awards. A Simple Life played internationally and won big at the Golden Horse Awards before finally opening in Hong Kong in March 2012. The acclaim helped, because the film went on to gross far more money than a movie about an ailing servant (Deannie Ip) could ever be expected to. Co-star Andy Lau may have been a factor too.


62. THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR (1994)
- directed by Ronny Yu - 54 points


Few swordplay films are as passionately rendered as Ronny Yu's The Bride with White Hair. Yu brought some welcome style and and eroticism to this story of a bride (Brigitte Lin) whose hair turns shocking white after she's betrayed by her lover (Leslie Cheung). And then IT ALL GOES TO HELL. Cheung and Lin deliver knockout performances, but we shouldn't overlook the contribution of Francis Ng, who plays the male half of a pair of diabolical Siamese twins. Ranked #24 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


61. THE PRODIGAL SON (1981)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 54.5 points, 1 first place vote


Yuen Biao and Lam Ching-Ying slide in for this super-classic martial arts comedy about your prototypical layabout (Yuen) who finds out that his rich father has been fixing all his kung-fu fights. Humbled, he goes to the man who defeated him, a cross-dressing Peking Opera actor (Lam Ching-Ying), to seek real training before dealing with super bad guy Frankie Chan. Sammo Hung directs and co-stars and the audience goes home happy. Ranked #18 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


60. MAD DETECTIVE (2007)
- directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 55.5 points


Mad Detective was the first Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai collaboration after four years apart, plus it brought Lau Ching-Wan back to the Milkyway Image fold after five years away. The result: a Milkyway Image masterwork, with Lau's quirky and unpredictable performance acting as the cherry on top of a startlingly creative genre film. Ranked #18 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


59. ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN (1983)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 57 points


It's dated but Tsui Hark's Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain is still mucho entertaining, packing campy special effects, acrobatic martial arts and unique Hong Kong Cinema charm into one fast-paced, imaginative and inimitable package. With the advent of modern CGI they won't make them like this anymore, so revisiting the original Zu still make sense. The 2001 remake/sequel The Legend of Zu? It's great at parties with unlimited alcoholic beverages. Ranked #14 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


58. RUNNING ON KARMA (2003)
- directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai- 62.5 points


One of the most "Hong Kong" Hong Kong movies out there, Running on Karmais a Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai combo supreme. Paul B. says "Nowhere could this movie have been done other than Hong Kong — it's completely @#$!-ed up and so damn entertaining!" Grady Hendrix shuts the door with his description: "The ultimate expression of Wai Ka-Fai and Johnnie To's collaboration, this action-Buddhist-romance-comedy-zen-whatsit gives both filmmakers their best showcase." Still has many vocal detractors among Johnnie To's western fanbase who don't get it. Too bad for them. Ranked #10 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


57. NEEDING YOU... (2000)
- directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 63 points


Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai's Needing You... was a massive, massive hit and demonstrated that A) Milkyway Image wasn't only about genre movies, and B) it's possible to make a commercial, audience-pleasing movie without sacrificing integrity or smarts. The subject matter — a silly girl-next-door type falls in love with her womanizer boss — is tired stuff, but it's not the story that matters, but how one chooses to tell it. Ranked #16 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, which it totally deserves.


56. SHANGHAI BLUES (1984)
- directed by Tsui Hark - 64 points, 2 first place votes


Shanghai Blues does not suffer from a shortage of love. Felipe opines that "Tsui Hark was at his greatest in the eighties and this is the rare postmodern homage that is even greater than the film (Xiing Shen's Crossroads) that it's paying homage to." Martin says that "Tsui Hark's mix of slapstick, romance and politics is equal parts charming and frenetic. It should be much better known, but has been unavailable (and remains so) forever." Ranked #29 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s, and it would probably have ranked higher had more people been able to get their hands on it.


55. DRUNKEN MASTER (1978)
- directed by Yuen Woo-Ping - 65.5 points


Before Jackie Chan made the incredible Drunken Master 2, he starred in a film called Drunken Master. Duh. Yuen Woo-Ping directed this hilarious kung-fu comedy about Wong Fei-Hong (Jackie Chan, with a divergent take on the folk hero Jet Li would later own), who learns drunken boxing from Beggar So (Simon Yuen, Chan's co-star in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow) after too much screwing around gets him in hot water with his father Wong Kei-Ying. Fights and funnies follow, plus the groundwork for the later, greater 1994 sequel. But really, you should totally see this one too.


54. IP MAN (2008)
- directed by Wilson Yip - 67 points


Wilson Yip's blockbuster proved that Wong Fei-Hong was not the final word on Chinese folk heroes. Ben Soh calls Ip Man "A solid folk hero movie that has been missing from Hong Kong Cinema for years." Phil Gillon talks up Ip Man's star, saying, "Donnie Yen proves that with the right film he can not only deliver knockout action but also a knockout performance." Followed by its equally popular if less acclaimed sequel Ip Man 2 and also the forthcoming Ip Man 3 — which is coming at us in 3D. Ranked #19 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


53. KING OF COMEDY (1999)
- directed by Stephen Chow - 68 points


King of Comedy may not be Stephen Chow's most popular film, but it's his most subtle and quite possibly his most rewarding. The story of loser and dedicated actor Wan Tin-Sau (Chow), King of Comedy has enough in-your-face wacky crap to satiate the most dedicated fan of mo lei tau, but the film finds lasting resonance through a quietly-developed love triangle involving Chow, Karen Mok and some newcomer named Cecilia Cheung. Ranked #18 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


52. ONE NITE IN MONGKOK (2004)
- directed by Derek Yee - 68 points, 1 first place vote


Superb crime thriller One Nite in Mongkok remains popular with voters despite director Derek Yee not being Johnnie To. A director known more for his dramas than his genre films, Yee more than holds his own as the creator of this compelling and very Hong Kong-specific look at criminals in the dense, suffocating Mongkok district. Ranked a scorchingly high #8 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, way above many a Johnnie To movie.


51. 2046 (2004)
- directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 70 points, 1 first place vote


It's that movie that looks like In the Mood for Love, sounds like In the Mood for Love, but has way more characters than In the Mood for Love, and also features some strange science fiction subplot that's like In the Mood for Love with Faye Wong as a robot. Oh yes, it's also pretty good but that's what you expect when the director is Wong Kar-Wai, a man so revered for his filmmaking prowess that he could direct my high school yearbook and it would still rank among the BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER. The man clearly has skills. 2046 ranked #2046 — we mean #20 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


50. EASTERN CONDORS (1987)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 71 points, 1 first place vote


Any conversation of the greatest Hong Kong filmmakers should include Sammo Hung, and among his finest works was the much-beloved "Dirty Dozen in Vietnam" actioner Eastern Condors, which starred a who's who of Hong Kong action heroes not named Jackie Chan. Phil Gillon says that Eastern Condors is "probably the film that inspired my imagination and made me take a step away from the mainstream (i.e., Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan) towards great icons such as Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung and Lam Ching-Ying." Lee Rankin describes the film thusly: "It's Awesome." Hard to argue there. Ranked #21 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


49. PEDICAB DRIVER (1989)
- directed by Sammo Hung - 73 points, 1 first place vote


Hey look, it's Sammo Hung again, except this time he's at the helm of another one of his greatest films, Pedicab Driver. Lee Rankin says, "At first glance, Pedicab Driver is a typical Hong Kong movie, but it leaps ahead of the pack thanks to some affecting drama and some of the most full blooded and brilliantly choreographed action I've ever seen." Ray minces fewer words, calling the film "Everything that's great about Hong Kong cinema. All genres crammed into one film. No segueing, no apologies, total entertainment. My mind grows tumescent with pleasure just thinking about it." The fact that Pedicab Driver is not legally available on a next-generation home video format (like DVD or better) is a crime. Ranked #24 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


48. ROUGE (1988)
- directed by Stanley Kwan - 74.5 points


About Stanley Kwan's 1988 classic Rouge, Filipe says, "For once Kwan's notions of melodrama were in complete synch with the audience's and the results couldn't be more affecting." Putting aside the possible swipe towards non-Rouge efforts from Kwan (Uh, Showtime, anyone?), Filipe is right in that Rouge sells melodrama and delivers to haunting, compelling effect. Credit where credit is due: namely to Anita Mui as the tragic Fleur and, to a lesser extent, Leslie Cheung as her missing lover. Ranked a super-high #12 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


47. MADE IN HONG KONG (1997)
- directed by Fruit Chan - 76 points, 1 first place vote


Produced by some guy named Andy Lau, Made in Hong Kong is Fruit Chan's early magnum opus, a startlingly accomplished drama about a triad boy, his mentally-challenged friend and the terminally-ill beauty he befriends. The parts are hackneyed stuff but Chan weaves everything together with such assured style and thematic strength that it's astounding even today. The fact that Chan has made so few films since the turn of the century is absolutely depressing. Made in Hong Kong ranked #40 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, and it would be totally higher if not for that pesky "difficult to get on DVD" problem.


46. BEAST COPS (1998)
- directed by Gordon Chan and Dante Lam - 79.5 points, 2 first place votes


The prototypical "cop soap opera", Beast Cops may be this unique Hong Kong genre's best representative. Site reader Root is a big fan, saying, "There are thousands of cop/triad films out there but I've never found one quite like this. A strange mix of pseudo-documentary, quirky character piece and full-on visceral vengeance story, Beast Cops digs into your brain and stays there. Most impressive is that it manages to capture a little piece of reality, especially in Anthony Wong's character and his gently underplayed loves, losses and personal quests. Michael Wong and Sam Lee really brighten up the screen alongside Anthony Wong. I love this film to pieces!" Root, you are not alone. Ranked #32 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


45. CITY ON FIRE (1987)
- directed by Ringo Lam - 80 points


You know the story: Ringo Lam made this gritty crime drama back in 1987 and then five years later its storyline was lifted and used in some American indie hit called Reservoir Dogs. Now everyone knows Quentin Tarantino, but how many of those same people know Ringo Lam? The answer: not enough. While Tarantino has never spoken at length about the inspiration that he received from City on Fire, he has publicly admitted to owning the poster. Hey Q, I own the poster too! I guess we're on the same level, man. City on Fire ranked #9 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s. Reservoir Dogs is currently ranked #70 on the IMDb Top 250.


44. THE PRIVATE EYES (1976)
- directed by Michael Hui - 80.5 points


Finally, a Michael Hui-directed work gets some love on this list of BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER! The multi-hyphenate actor-writer-director was Hong Kong's king of comedy before that Stephen Chow guy ever got started, and Hui is in superb form in this hilarious comedy about a detective agency staffed by Michael and his brothers Sam and Ricky. Snowblood says that The Private Eyes "somehow captures the 70s Hong Kong zeitgeist better than other, more serious films." The Private Eyes does appear dated, but Martin says, "Hong Kong comedy can be hit and miss for many non-Hong Kongers, but this Hui Brothers joint is all hit, and one of my favorite comedies from anywhere. Seriously if you can't laugh at this, there is no hope for you." Also, The Private Eyes has the most hummable theme song ever.


43. SWORDSMAN II (1991)
- directed by Ching Siu-Tung - 80.5 points


Tsui Hark produced and Ching Siu-Tung directed this super beloved wuxia with all the flying kung-fu and crazy hyperkinetic energy you could ever ask for. Check out this plot though: it's about an already-powerful man who chooses to become a woman to become the most powerful person ANYWHERE. Seriously, why hasn't Swordsman II been remade by Sally Potter or Pedro Almovodar as an experimental gender bender that takes place in a chauvinistic law firm? I see Tilda Swinton as Asia (or maybe Europe) the Invincible, with Michael Fassbender or Antonio Banderas in the Jet Li role. Tell me this movie would not play Cannes or at least Sundance. Oh yes, Swordsman II rules. It got the Michael Jordan spot, #23, on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


42. ELECTION 2 (2006)
- directed by Johnnie To - 82.5 points


The best Hong Kong movie made about China since the Handover, Election 2 takes the dark triad drama of the first Election and trades it for a razor-sharp swipe at the compromises and soul-crushing traps one falls into when they decide to play with the big boys — namely the triad uncles, the cops and finally China itself. Filipe calls Election 2 "The rare sequel that builds on its original base and becomes something much richer and more encompassing," and that's exactly what the film is: something unexpectedly greater and more resonant than the film that preceded it. Election 2 ranked #21 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, which is a shame because it should have ranked #6 — where the original Election ended up.


41. THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (1978)
- directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 82.5 points, 1 first place vote


Martial arts films don't get more legendary than The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, the Shaw Brothers cult classic that also goes by the names The Master Killer, Shaolin Master Killer and probably Star Wars. Lau Kar-Leung directs Gordon Liu as San Te, who trains in the Shaolin Temple's 35 chambers so that he can acquire the necessary ass-kicking skills to oppose the oppressive Manchu government. In the end, San Te sets up the 36th Chamber of Shaolin to teach common people kung-fu and entertain generations with his ability to appear in sequels called, appropriately enough, Return to the 36th Chamber and Disciples of the 36th Chamber. Neither of those films appear on this list, but the original made it and that's all that matters.


40. FIST OF LEGEND (1994), directed by Gordon Chan - 84.5 points, 1 first place vote

It's the legend of Chen Zhen — except instead of DONNNNIEEE or BRRRRUUUCCCEE it's JJEEETTTTTTTT as the pupil of Huo Yuanjia who gets all sawed off and looks to tear the Japanese a new one. Andrew Chan gushes, "The fight scenes are pitch perfect and Jet Li is in top form. The final fight scene with Billy Chow remains one of action cinema moments of the century." Tim Chmielewski chimes in, saying "Even though this movie is a remake of an earlier Bruce Lee movie, it stands on its own as a classic." It's also a lot less incendiary than either the Bruce Lee or Donnie Yen iterations, and even features Chen Zhen in a romance with a Japanese girl! Man, that would not fly nowadays. With any luck, this won't be the only Chen Zhen movie to show up on this list. FIST OF LEGEND ranked #19 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


39. HAPPY TOGETHER (1997), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 88.5 points, 1 first place vote

Hong Kong Cinema cum slash fiction fans had a field day with Happy Together, because it cast two of Hong Kong's most drool-worthy leading men as lovers in Buenos Aires who break up, make up, break up again and then get so passive-aggressively vindictive that there's pretty much no way to go back. But go forward? That's a direction that's always available. Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai are the bickering lovers, and each turns in a performance so incredibly flawed and pathetic that they become recognizable, frighteningly real figures. Directed by that Wong Kar-Wai guy — maybe you've heard of him? Ranked an unlucky #13 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


38. COME DRINK WITH ME (1966), directed by King Hu - 95 points

Hey, it's the King Hu movie that we're actually allowed to put on this list! This swordplay classic is arguably the most beloved Shaw Brothers martial arts film ever (Note: we used the word arguably), and is easily the signature work of the studio's kung-fu princess Cheng Pei-Pei. The action here is grounded but exacting and mesmerizing in its staging. Says Adam DiPiazza, "The action may look primitive today, but Come Drink With Me just may be the most overall well-directed film in the Shaw Bros. catalogue." Followed by the sequel Golden Swallow, but King Hu did not direct and for some reason nobody really talks about it. Hmmm.


37. MR. VAMPIRE (1985), directed by Ricky Lau Koon-Wai - 96.5 points, 1 first place vote

If nothing else, Mr. Vampire provided the the quintessential role for the late Lam Ching-Ying, he of the wacky eyebrows and venerable screen presence. Lam is the Taoist priest who helps a ragtag bunch (including Chin Siu-Ho, Moon Lee and Ricky Hui) battle tough hopping vampires, and this Sammo Hung-produced horror-comedy is so good that it launched an entire genre of similar and also inferior copycat films. Says Root, "A childhood of impersonating Lam Ching-Ying attempts at ghostly exorcisms may have skewed my view a little, but I find this the most watchable, likable horror-comedy out there with a lovable cast and great fight sequences. And it's genuinely funny too." Ranked an incredibly respectable #11 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


36. INFERNAL AFFAIRS II (2003), directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak - 100.5 points, 2 first place votes

Making a sequel to THE GREATEST FILM EVER sounds like a difficult task, but the Infernal Affairs team was up to the task with Infernal Affairs II. Instead of a tense crime thriller, Andrew Lau, Alan Mak and Felix Chong give us a meaty epic drama that actually made its universally-praised predecessor better. Heck, some people even think that the sequel is superior to the original — like Valerie Soe, who opines that the film is "ranked higher than its predecessor due to its increased complexity and emotional weight, its operatic scope, and another outstanding performance by Francis Ng." Followed by Infernal Affairs III, but we'll just whistle innocently and look the other way. Ranked #9 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


35. AN AUTUMN'S TALE (1987), directed by Mabel Cheung - 102.5 points

One of the most finest little movies around, An Autumn's Tale rules because of Chow Yun-Fat, Cherie Chung, Chow Yun-Fat and Chow Yun-Fat. Oh, and also Chow Yun-Fat. Mark Gor kicks ass and takes names as Samuel Pang, a normal dude living in New York City who so far in life has amounted to a big fat zero. One day his cousin Jenny (Cherie Chung) enters his life and then he decides to change. Aaand…that's the film. Really. But like with most films, it's not the story you tell but how you tell it, and director Mabel Cheung and screenwriter Alex Law tell this one exceptionally well. Sensitive, subtle, unforced, understated, natural, sympathetic, endearing, simple and pure. These are the adjectives that best describe what Cheung and Law accomplish here, and if you need an adjective for the sum totality, then how about this one: perfect. An Autumn's Tale ranked #8 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 80s, which is surprising because this film has no guns, blood or gangsters. But it does have Chow.


34. ELECTION (2005), directed by Johnnie To - 110 points

You know, there are some people (like me) who think Election is actually inferior to Election 2. No matter: it soundly walloped Election 2 in our reader vote so we must sing its praises. And there's much to sing about, from its enthralling examination of the triad underworld to its dry black comedy to its smart, detailed performances. Also, as Lee Rankin will tell you, "Election has one of the best shock endings in not only Hong Kong cinema history, but of any film I have seen, Hong Kong or otherwise." Said ending involves fishing and a big rock, but you'll have to see the film to get the rest. Ranked #6 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, meaning there were only five films ranked higher. Subtraction is difficult.


33. RED CLIFF (2008) and RED CLIFF II (2009), directed by John Woo - 110 points, 2 first place votes

John Woo returned to Chinese Cinema in a big way in 2008 with the first of his Red Cliff films, about the pivotal defeat of magnificent bastard Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) by the Wei-Sun coalition led by Sun Quan (Chang Chen) and Liu Bei (Yao Yong). The key characters, however, are Zhou Yun (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro), rival strategists who team up while engaging in some of the most artful bromance ever put to film. Despite being a costume epic, Red Cliff fits neatly with John Woo's romantic aesthetic — and it should, since many of his famous heroic bloodshed tropes were actually taken from Three Kingdoms lore. The Red Cliff movies are a stirring achievement and a fun way to watch John Woo come full circle. Now if only he would work with Chow Yun-Fat again. Ranked #13 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


32. FONG SAI YUK (1993), directed by Corey Yuen - 111 points

Valerie Soe calls Fong Sai Yuk, "A really fun and frantic kung-fu movie with a smiling Jet Li and his kick-ass mom, awesomely played by Josephine Siao." Really, Fong Sai Yuk has too much of too many good things. This movie has everything: history, gender issues, situation comedy, romance, drama, singing, crying and action. Tons and tons of action. The uneven mishmash of genres can be off-putting but Corey Yuen and company handle everything with such likable, graceful panache that its impossible to not smile as it all unfolds before you. For further proof of Fong Sai Yuk's dominance, one only need look at Fong Sai Yuk II, which is pretty good in its own right. But is it as good as Fong Sai Yuk? No freaking way. Ranked #12 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


31. HERO (2002), directed by Zhang Yimou - 118 points, 1 first place vote

It's Jet Li again, but Hero is not a Jet Li movie like Fong Sai Yuk. Hero is a movie with Jet Li, and Zhang Yimou uses the martial arts superstar's iconic presence to add extra layers to this Rashomon-like art film about the true nature of heroism and how different colors can represent different things (At least, that's what film school taught us). Some people question if Hero is really a Hong Kong film — after all, it's directed by China's most celebrated director plus features suspiciously pro-China themes. Then again, the cast feature HK Cinema mainstays Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung and Donnie Yen, plus the Hong Kong Film Awards treats Hero as a Hong Kong film. Whatever, we'll just say the movie is very, very good and end the discussion there. Ranked #7 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts — so it looks like we consider it a Hong Kong movie too.


30. PROJECT A (1983), directed by Jackie Chan - 119 points, 1 first place vote

The top ranked Three Brothers film on our Top Hong Kong Movies of the 80s list, clocking in at #6, which means no more Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao team-ups for the remainder of this countdown. That's a shame because the Three Brothers made some amazing Hong Kong Cinema and should arguably been given a Top 15 finish for one of their films. But no matter, we're here to talk about Project A and there's too much to talk about. Martin says about Project A: "For my money, this is Jackie Chan's best. A showcase of all Jackie's finest attributes, excellent and exciting action and genuinely funny comedy, on a massive scale. It doesn't hurt to have Sammo and Yuen Biao in there too!" Indeed the stunts and action here are spectacular, and Chan's comedy timing is only enhanced when he has two incredibly good actors and stunt performers as his screen mates. Genres and filmmakers come and go, but seeing a winning, death-defying collaboration like the Three Brothers again? Probably not in our lifetime.


29. GOD OF GAMBLERS (1989), directed by Wong Jing - 122 points, 2 first place votes

Let's look at the story of God of Gamblers: It's about a smarmy gambling expert who wears awesome suits but becomes a fashion-impaired man-child when he gets hit on the head with a rock. However, when he eats chocolate he suddenly regains his amazing shuffling skills but not his fashion sense. Furthermore, he hangs out with a low-level gangster who raids Michael Jackson's wardrobe and looks like that producer guy in A Simple Life. How can this be the recipe for one of the BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER? Well, it is and that's because of Chow Yun-Fat, whose ability to do anything in a movie is legendary, and Wong Jing, whose ability to try anything in a movie is legendary. Add both together and you get a movie that's so off the chain entertaining that you can't help but like it. And if you don't then you probably had no childhood. Ranked #7 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 80s, above many films that were a lot less fun.


28. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000), directed by Ang Lee - 122.5 points, 1 first place vote

Adam DiPiazza says, "The way Bruce Lee introduced previous generations to martial arts films, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was my generation's introduction." That sounds about right, because previously martial arts films were seen as creatively-choreographed chopsocky, and post-Crouching Tiger they became artful, elegant epics with punches and kicks that impacted the soul as well as the body. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon basically changed martial arts films forever. No longer were King Hu movies the outliers in a sea of bloody, hokey bash-em-ups. Now the outliers are movies featuring Jiang Luxia and Philip Ng and directed by Dennis Law, and now every big name director is lining up to try out a fancy-schmancy costume film choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping or Ching Siu-Tung. Ang Lee's to blame for all of this and he's earned our scorn and also our undying admiration. Because hey, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is freaking amazing. Appropriately ranked #12 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts.


27. FIST OF FURY (1972), directed by Lo Wei - 122.5 points, 3 first place votes

Chen Zhen makes his last and most poignant appearance on this list with Fist of Fury a.k.a. The Chinese Connection — and yes, that is a spoiler that you won't be seeing Andrew Lau's The Legend of the Fist - The Return of Chen Zhen show up. Huo Yuanjia student Chen Zhen gets his most charismatic incarnation thanks to Bruce Lee, whose performance is so powerful and righteous it probably swelled Chinese nationalist pride to its seventies peak. Snowblood says of the film, "Chen Zhen smashing the "No dogs and Chinese allowed" sign is possibly the most powerful moment of any Hong Kong film ever." Also of note is the film's dark ending, which feels much more appropriate for the subject matter than the happier endings witnessed in Fist of Legend or Legend of the Fist. Even though we didn't hold a reader vote for TOP 100 HONG KONG FILMS OF THE 70s, it's more than likely that Fist of Fury would have ended up at #1.


26. A MOMENT OF ROMANCE (1990), directed by Benny Chan - 124 points, 1 first place vote

Back in 1990, every guy wanted to be Andy Lau in A Moment of Romance. That is, they wanted to be an awesome triad dude with cool hair, a cool motorcycle and a screw-the-establishment attitude. Simultaneously, every girl wanted to be Wu Chien-Lien. That is, they wanted to reject against the patriarchal order by hooking up with a dreamy rebel with a cool motorcycle and a bad attitude. That's what Moment of Romance taught us, and even though we all saw how badly it ended for Andy Lau and Wu Chien-Lien, people still wanted to be them. Why didn't people want to be Chow Yun-Fat and Joey Wong from Fractured Follies instead? Sure, the guy wore a pineapple costume but he also sings while running down the street in said costume. And hey, the girl was pretty. Surely the Fractured Follies dream was one worth wanting? No matter, everyone chose Moment of Romance. Like San Te, who says "To be honest, before watching A Moment of Romance I thought that all HK movies were about action. I was wrong. Also, I bought a motorcycle after this." You see? When will these kids learn? Ranked #21 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


25. THROWDOWN (2004), directed by Johnnie To - 128 points, 1 first place vote

Though it was dismissed by some critics for not meeting the expectations of a Johnnie To film (i.e., it wasn't a genre film so let's not care), Throwdown has slowly but surely gained a loyal following. On our Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Aughts reader vote it placed #15, but in the two years since it's leapfrogged most of the films ahead of it, including little titles like Infernal Affairs II, Running on Karma, Election, Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Martin calls the film, "A thrilling departure from Johnnie To's usual M.O. — an unclassifiable judo comedy/drama type thing. Superbly shot and for all its Milkyway Image quirks, hugely uplifting." Filipe is stronger in his praise, saying that Throwdown is "To at his most personal and offbeat. I know he'd disagree but I take this over anything Akira Kurosawa ever did." You're right, Filipe: Johnnie To would disagree. But privately he'd be tickled pink and would probably light up a huge victory cigar later. Johnnie To smokes a lot of those victory cigars.


24. GOD OF COOKERY (1996), directed by Stephen Chow - 133 points, 4 first place votes

Perhaps the pinnacle of the Stephen Chow "douchebag who gets his comeuppance" character template, God of Cookery is one of Chow's most accessible comedies and easily the greatest advertisement ever for barbecued pork + a fried egg over rice. Karen Mok as Sister Turkey is also key, as she's one of the few Chow leading ladies to successfully hold her own. About a zillion years ago they kept talking about a Hollywood remake directed by Chow and starring Jim Carrey, but that obviously isn't happening anymore. Ranked #10 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s — a shocking finish since it was the highest ranked Chow movie from a decade that he basically owned, plus it doesn't augur well for Chow's results in the rest of this countdown. No matter. Two out of this three movies in the 21st century ensure that Chow will not go quietly.


23. ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 2 (1992), directed by Tsui Hark - 134.5 points

Finally, a Jet Li Wong Fei-Hong movie makes this list! Too bad none of the Kwan Tak-Hing films were able to rank, but really, how many of you saw How Wong Fei Hong Defeated Three Bullies with a Rod? Probably none, which may be why a Wong Fei-Hong movie starring a guy whose name is synonymous with "aircraft" makes the cut instead. This second film in Tsui Hark's popular series is super-important anyway, because it features Wong Fei-Hong interacting with Sun Yat-Sen, plus it pits Aircraft Li versus DONNNNIIEEEE in a classic Yuen Woo-Ping choreographed duel. A terrific mix of nationalism, heroism and unbelievably imaginative martial arts. Ranked #8 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


22. A CHINESE ODYSSEY PART I: CINDERELLA (1995) and A CHINESE ODYSSEY Part II: PANDORA'S BOX (1995), directed by Jeff Lau - 147 points

The Chinese Odyssey movies leapfrog God of Cookery in this countdown, and they probably should. Stephen Chow turns in possibly his finest acting in this brilliant mo lei tau reworking of the classic Journey to the West, infused with a healthy dose of postmodern ridiculousness courtesy of director Jeff Lau. Often ignored because of his superficial resemblance to that Wong Jing fellow, Lau is one of Hong Kong's most unique and creative directors and someone who should receive greater notice even if he did make Kung Fu Cyborg. Action, comedy, romance, an existential examination on the life and emotions of an immortal monkey — A Chinese Odyssey has it all. Ranked #16 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


21. EXILED (2006), directed by Johnnie To - 155.5 points

Also known by its alternative title Postmodern Mission, this Johnnie To joint ranked a shockingly high #5 on our Top Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts. This film is a supremely entertaining bromance about guys with guns who love one another but won't touch each other like those guys in Happy Together. Instead, they'll shoot people together and occasionally shoot at each other — but luckily a door or a guy they love less gets in the way. Sometimes, while hanging out in the middle of nowhere, they'll run across a convoy of gold that's being guarded by another guy, and after a shoot out they also fall in love with him. They still won't touch him, but they'll gather around a fire and tell stories of other men they love who they've shot at or perhaps shot with. This is the story of manlier-than-manly men whose profound love for one another can only be expressed with cold steel and hot lead. This is the story of all men. This is Exiled.


20. KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004), directed by Stephen Chow - 156 points, 1 first place vote

Stephen Chow created a certifiable Hong Kong Cinema classic when he took thirty-plus years of martial arts film history, Japanese anime influences, Looney Tunes gags, and more media references than you can count and mashed them up into one crazy entertaining ball of fun. Kung Fu Hustle was Chow's last great hurrah as an actor and filmmaker and the film that firmly placed him on the international cinema map. We're still waiting for the sequel — or hell, just a film that he'll direct and star in. It may actually never happen so we'll just have to cherish Kung Fu Hustle even more. This film ranked #4 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, so this #20 ranking could be considered insulting.


19. FALLEN ANGELS (1995), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 162.5 points, 3 first place votes

Wong Kar-Wai goes super lurid and to even darker and more absurd places with this baroque hitman-stalker-lover comedy-drama-something. Root opines "It may divide opinions among Wong Kar-Wai fans — especially lovers of Chungking Express — but Fallen Angels oozes raw emotion from every neon-lit pore and is by far one of Wong's most appealing works. All the gorgeous actors look like different creatures in this nighttime world, and the way it was lit, filmed and wandered through by the eclectic mix of characters made me fall completely in love with Hong Kong." Grady Hendrix echoes the love, saying "I'll always prefer Wong Kar-Wai in his Jeff Lau/pop artist mode, and this is that mode's ultimate realization. Fallen Angels is sometimes embarrassing, sometimes transcendent, and that final shot wraps up all of pre-1998 Hong Kong Cinema and puts a bow on top." Fallen Angels ranked #15 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


18. ASHES OF TIME (1994), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 163.5 points, 2 first place votes

Meanwhile, Ashes of Time moves past Fallen Angels. Whereas Fallen Angels ranked #15 on our Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, Ashes of Time ranked #17 — but they've switched places on this list! Criss-cross! Wong Kar-Wai's artsy, existential and somewhat maddening take on the wuxia pian is also one of the most gorgeously dense films ever made. Seriously, you need to watch Ashes of Time about three times to fully take it in, but once you get it, YOU GET IT. This is like the Watchmen of wuxias, except Wong Kar-Wai dispensed with plot and concentrated on his turned-on-their-head archetypes. Martin offers his take: "Complex (some would say incomprehensible), beautiful and filled with Wong Kar-Wai's obsessions, Ashes of Time is stunning filmmaking with probably the greatest cast in Hong Kong Cinema history. For the record I prefer the original 1994 cut over the Redux version, and so should you." On that subject, this ranking should be considered cumulative for Ashes of Time and Ashes of Time Redux, because we're sure Wong Kar-Wai considers both films two sides of the same masterpiece. Though nobody actually voted for Ashes of Time Redux. Hurm.


17. ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA (1990), directed by Tsui Hark - 176.5 points, 2 first place votes

We're out of jokes about Aircraft Li and Kwan Tak-Hing-era films like Wong Fei Hong Goes to a Birthday Party at Guanshan (followed by the sequel Wong Fei Hong Doesn't Like the Cake and Shadow-Kicks the Host's Brother-in-Law), so let's let others talk about Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China. Tim Chmielewski calls it "A landmark in Hong Kong movies still to be matched no matter how many 'China is great' propaganda movies studios seem to be turning out these days." James Donovan is less jocular, saying "Sure it has historical inaccuracies, plot holes and it gets a bit messy in more than a few places. But the action, the imagery and the overall story never fail to capture the imagination. Better than the sequel — I don't care what people say." Once Upon a Time in China ranked #7 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, only one slot above the #8 ranked Once Upon a Time in China 2.


16. COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY (1996), directed by Peter Chan - 183.5 points, 1 first place vote

Despite meager home video distribution (Thanks a lot, Warner Brothers!) in the 21st century, Peter Chan's Comrades, Almost a Love Story still has plenty of diehard fans, and it absolutely should. It possesses plot contrivances, but this story of Mainlanders meeting in Hong Kong is so genuinely affecting that it blasts through its obvious screenwriting and takes on a life of its own. The story, the emotions and Jingle Ma's cinematography help, but let's give credit where credit is due: Maggie Cheung owns Comrades like few actresses can and should own films. Leon Lai is also pretty good, though a tad more opaque than the wonderful Cheung, whose performance you can actually read just by staring at her face. Filipe calls Comrades, Almost a Love Story "One of my favorite films made anywhere at anytime. All these years later, its straightforward sincerity is still winning." Grady Hendrix is more urbane in his take, calling Comrades "the other great Hong Kong romance. There is no way to hate this movie. Unless you are an asshole." Ranked #11 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, which is a crime because it should rank higher.


15. RUNNING OUT OF TIME (1999), directed by Johnnie To - 195 points, 2 first place votes

Johnnie To is running out of bullets. Unless something like Breaking News makes a surprise run, Hong Kong's genre kingpin has only two more chances to make this list, and Running Out of Time is one of them. This Andy Lau + Lau Ching-Wan team-up was a seminal Milkyway Image film because A) it lightened up the studio playbook beyond darker, edgier fare, and B) it was very successful financially. Its mixture of commercialism and genre cool obviously made a difference, because Running Out of Time has proven more popular than nearly every film in the Johnnie To canon, including his more-traveled hits like Exiled and Election. Maybe its the combo of genre elements and actors like Andy Lau and Lau Ching-Wan, who mix acting skills with larger-than-life star power. Danny calls Running Out of Time "One of the best cat-and-mouse crime films ever made. The two-minute car crash scene is wonderfully shot, not to mention the beautiful and ambiguous ending. Plus, the soundtrack is just epic!" Followed by the sillier but still underrated sequel Running Out of Time 2, which stars Lau Ching-Wan and our pal Noodle. Ranked #6 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, which is really high. But not as high as one other Johnnie To film.


14. DRUNKEN MASTER II (1994), directed by Lau Kar-Leung - 210.5 points, 3 first place votes

Yes, this is a Wong Fei-Hong movie, but we doubt anyone really thinks "Wong Fei-Hong, Chinese folk hero" when they watch Drunken Master II. Rather, they think "Jackie Chan" and "OMG WTF BBQ did Jackie just do that?" Paul B. says that Drunken Master II is "The culmination of everything that was cool and crazy in Hong Kong cinema in the nineties, with Jackie Chan at his best." In action cinema history there hasn't been anyone like Jackie Chan and there will likely never be anyone like him again. We can cry about how Jackie is old now, or how he's been outed as a toadying loudmouth — the man has crappy politics but his creativity and skill in putting together fast-paced, intricate action and comedy is unparalleled, and Drunken Master II combines those elements better and to more audience-pleasing effect than the majority of Chan's filmography. Also memorable are appearances by Anita Mui and Lau Kar-Leung, plus there's Andy Lau in a one-second cameo that accomplishes absolutely nothing. But hey, he's Andy Lau so it's the greatest one-second of absolutely nothing ever. Drunken Master II ranked #5 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, which sounds about right. Too bad about its shoddy home video availability. Seriously, anyone want to release an English-subtitled Blu-ray? Please?


13. BULLET IN THE HEAD (1990), directed by John Woo - 236 points, 4 first place votes

Overwrought, hyperemotional and just plain excessive, Bullet in the Head still packs a punch even twenty years later. John Woo's Vietnam-set Deer Hunter + Apocalypse Now + pseudo-Better Tomorrow prequel is a kick to the gut that's pure Hong Kong Cinema and pure John Woo. San Te calls the film "Powerful and emotional. Not the best Woo movie in terms of action (although there is plenty), but the acting is superb. The trio of lead actors knew what they were doing." Martin offers a number of soundbites on Bullet: "Raw anger and emotion in celluloid form. No other film has been responsible for so many of my tears. Woo violence without the Woo sheen. A superb "Little" Tony and a courageous Jacky Cheung provide the heart in the darkness." Featuring Waise Lee as the overacting crappy friend and Simon Yam in the Chow Yun-Fat role as super-cool hitman Luke. Kind-of-remade as the disappointing John Woo-produced Blood Brothers, proving once again that new is not always better. Bullet in the Head ranked #4 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s.


12. DAYS OF BEING WILD (1991), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 239 points, 4 first place votes

Filipe says, "For the first time Wong Kar-Wai was allowed to be Wong Kar-Wai and the sense of discovery in this film is something he would keep trying to achieve again." Previous to Days of Being Wild, Wong Kar-Wai made the well-received and commercially-successful As Tears Go By, so he was given carte blanche on this project — and the result was miles and miles of film shot, a commercial failure, and a masterpiece that will likely last generations. While the cult of Wong Kar-Wai may have started with As Tears Go By, this was the first film that was pure Wong Kar-Wai top-to-bottom, and it spawned more imitators and wannabes than one could care to mention. When he arrived, Wong Kar-Wai was a singular voice, and modern Hong Kong Cinema is in desperate need of a similar revelatory figure. But the appearance of a unique Hong Kong filmmaker like Wong Kar-Wai may never happen again, just as the Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema will likely never repeat. We can only hold onto films like this as the precious gems that they are. Days of Being Wild ranked #9 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, which actually is probably not high enough.


11. THE MISSION (1999), directed by Johnnie To - 248.5 points, 2 first place votes

There's good and bad in seeing The Mission rank this high among THE BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER. It's good because #11 is a very high spot, but it's bad because it means Johnnie To gets left out of the Top 10. That's unfortunate for such a popular and revered filmmaker, but legends are created through time, and Johnnie To is still a relatively new presence among Hong Kong Cinema's masters. To may have masterpieces left to offer and until then, we've still got The Mission. Valerie Soe calls the film "The ne plus ultra of triad brotherhood movies, with the brilliant casting of all the bad boys of Hong Kong Cinema as its protagonists. No popstars here, just impeccable acting showcased by Johnnie To's poetic, minimalist direction." Martin calls it "A filmmaking masterclass from Johnnie To, who really came of age with The Mission. A great ensemble cast deliver perfect characterizations in and around the incredible stillness of the stand-and-deliver shootouts and trademark Milkyway Image ironic cool." The Mission ranked #3 on our Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, so #11 may seem a little low. Maybe the nineties need a little time to be considered quite as good as the eighties.


10. SHAOLIN SOCCER (2001), directed by Stephen Chow - 269.5 points

Put a fork in Stephen Chow because he's done for this countdown. Chow's 2001 martial arts/soccer mashup is a revolutionary crowd-pleaser and the film that showed that Chow could appeal to larger international audiences — though the actual distribution of the movie was poorly handled (Haha, it was Miramax!). Shaolin Soccer set the stage for the ultimate Stephen Chow formula: a savvy mix of media references, knowing comedy and naive romanticism that at first glance seems impossible to deliver in live-action. Of course, they've done it for years in animation — see antecedents to Shaolin Soccer like the long-running Japanimation Captain Tsubasa or Dragonball — but it takes a special talent like Chow to translate that to live-action and not make it seem like a monster cheesefest. Sadly, Chow only used this formula one more time (duh, Kung Fu Hustle) before stepping back and working mostly behind the camera once every four or five years. We'll never see the promised Shaolin Soccer 2, and indeed we may never actually see Stephen Chow act ever again. As such, we should treat our Blu-ray copies of Shaolin Soccer like they're made of gold. That is, if they ever release a Blu-ray. Ranked #3 on our list of Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts — and both the films ahead of it have yet to rank here. They will, though.


9. PEKING OPERA BLUES (1986), directed by Tsui Hark - 275 points, 4 first place votes

Another reader vote, another chance for Peking Opera Blues to assert its dominance. People love the crap out of this film, so we don't even have to evangelize it. Valerie Soe gives the set up: "Tsui Hark's dizzying ride through history, allegory, and opera, with three great female characters played by Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh and Cherie Chung." Adam DiPiazza offers the emotions: "Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's sad, sometimes it's action packed, but it's always entertaining." Filipe presents the evaluation: "Tsui Hark's finest film and one of the biggest expressions of pure joy in all movies." And Grady Hendrix bats clean up: "Quite possibly the greatest movie ever made, full stop. Peking Opera Blues is everything that is great about eighties Hong Kong filmmaking, wrapped up in one tight little package and studded with three actresses giving performances that will never grow old. The last word on the ability of movies to defy gravity and work on a purely emotional level." We liked it too, and will gladly spend the rest of our natural-born life reminding people how this is one of the greatest Hong Kong movies ever made. Peking Opera Blues ranked #5 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s but in our hearts it will always rank higher.


8. A CHINESE GHOST STORY (1987), directed by Ching Siu-Tung - 277.5 points, 5 first place votes

Wow, only 2.5 points separate A Chinese Ghost Story from Peking Opera Blues in this reader vote — a very small margin, especially since nobody who voted indicated that they were voting for the 1987 Chinese Ghost Story. If we had assigned some of those unclear votes to the 2011 Chinese Ghost Story remake, well, we could be looking at an upset of this final ranking. Still, we're guessing that none of those votes were intended for the remake, since the original A Chinese Ghost Story is the ultimate action-horror-comedy-romance-whatever movie and proof that Hong Kong Cinema was once the go-to factory for genre mash-ups. Tsui Hark and Ching Siu-Tung's hyperemotional, hyperkinetic and just plain hyper genre blend is one of the most entertaining movies ever made, and yet it manages surprise and genuinely affecting moments. Leslie Cheung vs. Yu Shaoqun, Joey Wong vs. Liu Yifei, Lau Siu-Ming vs. Kara Hui — the original wins in nearly every aspect. Wu Ma vs. Louis Koo? Well…Wu Ma sings while bouncing off trees and drinking Chinese wine, while Louis Koo is super handsome and boasts a fine bronze skin hue. In deference to Koo's fanbase, we'll call that a push but in every other way, the original Chinese Ghost Story rules. Simply one of the finest demonstrations that pure commercial cinema (a.k.a. crap for the masses) can be relevant, exciting and resonant. Ranked #4 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s, which is about right.


7. POLICE STORY (1985), directed by Jackie Chan - 348.5 points, 3 first place votes

Police Story is the only Jackie Chan film to win Best Picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and that's perfectly fine with us. While Drunken Master II may be more exhilarating, Crime Story more self-important and Gorgeous more, uh, gorgeous, Police Story is probably Chan's most complete vision of action, comedy and pure-on crazy punishment. Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin deserve some credit, but not as much as the shantytown destruction, the bus chase and the climactic shopping mall knock-em-up. Sure, these are just set pieces, but each is so inventive and spectacular that they could anchor their own film — and yet here they all appear in one movie! Phil Gillon says, "Jackie Chan had done many films before but none quite captured the artistry that Chan puts on screen here." Tim Chmielewski shrugs his shoulders and says, "Can't really write anything new about this one. At least the producers of Tango & Cash knew a good film to rip off for one of their scenes." Chan is so unique and influential a filmmaker that it's a shame that he's become such a media pariah in Hong Kong. Hopefully years from now, people will get past Chan's obvious, less-than-glistening humanity and admire him for the things that he could do that few people couldn't. And really, judging by Police Story, that's A LOT. Ranked #3 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s.


6. HARD BOILED (1992), directed by John Woo - 384.5 points, 5 first place votes

John Woo's beloved actioner is revered by mouth-breathing genre fans worldwide, and it should be because it's just that awesome. This is the story of Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat), a Cop Who Breaks All The Rules™ who's named after liquor and chases bad guys because they're bad and he's not. Life changes when Tequila falls in love with gangster Tony (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), who may be the only man around who matches Tequila in his awesomeness. But awesomeness of this caliber can't be contained by homoerotic tussling, so the two go at it as only awesome men can: with guns and collateral damage. But after orgasmic explosions and a hot-and-heavy Mexican standoff, their passion still isn't contained, so the frustrated pair team-up to shoot as many people as possible until their passions reach a crescendo, and finally one of the men walks off with a baby. But whose baby is it? Hard Boiled doesn't answer that question, but it does tell us what happens when you take Hong Kong's greatest action director, two of Hong Kong's best actors and add them to a completely generic action storyline. Naturally, the storyline ceases to be important and the film can become nigh-legendary and an action classic — simply on the strength of those two other things. Hard Boiled ranked #2 on our list of Top Hong Kong Movies of the 90s, which is insane for a film with such a flimsy story. But this is Hard Boiled so hey, that's okay.


5. THE KILLER (1989), directed by John Woo - 397 points, 10 first place votes

Chock-full of bullets, blood and bromance, The Killer may be the ultimate John Woo + Chow Yun-Fat teaming. Martin says that The Killer was "The beginning of my man crush on Chow Yun-Fat (Come on guys, you know you had one too). Woo's movie introduced many to the joys of Hong Kong Cinema and 20-odd years later it remains one of the purest genre films ever made. Breathtaking in its action and sincerity." Also breathtaking is the near-romance that develops between Inspector Lee (Danny "The Man Who Plays Cops™" Lee) and hitman John (Chow Yun-Fat), a.k.a. Jeff if you're watching an early Circle Films release. The two men are on opposite sides of the law but develop a mutual respect and admiration that's so enormous that it becomes kind of creepy. If The Killer achieved mainstream popularity in today's Internet meme-addicted culture, you'd see endless gifs about men who are so hot and heavy for each other that they'd bleed and kill just for one sweaty look. Credit John Woo and his stars for taking such a romantic, over-the-top dynamic and making it compelling, cinematic and absolutely convincing. The outrageous bullet ballet helps too. Co-starring Sally Yeh as the beard, The Killer ranked #2 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s, behind another popular John Woo movie to be named later.


4. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 475 points, 7 first place votes

Wong Kar-Wai finally shows up on the Top 10! In the Mood for Love is perhaps Wong's most internationally-revered masterpiece, a movie deemed so superior in theme, technique and execution that it won awards all over the world and took the #1 spot on Time Out HK's list of the Greatest 100 Hong Kong Films. On our Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, it could only muster a #2 spot behind another film with the same actor but much more genre-friendly elements. In the Mood for Love is about a cuckolded man and a cuckolded woman who consider an affair — but the story here isn't what the characters do but how they pretty much don't do anything, leading to frustration, stagnation, missed opportunities and beautiful, beautiful regret. Wong Kar-Wai brings some of his previous themes back, but loses the self-indulgence and self-absorbed characters, replacing them with two very identifiable people played exquisitely by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung. This is a movie for film lovers, where every choice made with the camera, the music, the mise-en-scene and the acting is deliberate and exacting. Really, you can watch this film over and over and gleam new nuances each time because so much thought was put into every detail and every frame, and it's all up there on the screen for an audience to take in. Arguably many Hong Kong films could ever be called timeless, but In the Mood for Love absolutely is.


3. A BETTER TOMORROW (1986), directed by John Woo - 489.5 points, 10 first place votes

Martin calls A Better Tomorrow "Massively influential, and full of iconic moments and performances. Really what else is there to say about John Woo's movie?" Nothing at all, since this movie is legendary and popular with both Hong Kongers and international fans alike. Many films talk about honor, brotherhood and loyalty in the criminal underworld but few do it with such meaty, bombastic and utterly convincing conviction as A Better Tomorrow. Still, this #3 finish is a little bittersweet, because A Better Tomorrow ranked #1 on our list of the Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the 80s — plus if you polled only Hong Kong locals it's possible this film would destroy its competition. Should A Better Tomorrow have ranked higher than #3? We'll never know the answer, but talking about the movie gives us another chance to revel in the action, bromance and even more bromance that populates this gripping heroic bloodshed classic. Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung headline but the undisputed star is one Chow Yun-Fat, whose towering performance as Mark Gor is rightfully revered and is easily the defining performance of Chow's career. A Better Tomorrow was inspired by Lung Kong's Story of a Discharged Prisoner, which frankly deserved a spot somewhere on this BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER list.


2. INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002), directed by Andrew Lau Wai-Keung and Alan Mak Siu-Fai - 573 points, 14 first place votes

For once, Infernal Affairs loses and it's actually kind of surprising. The film not only ranked #1 on our list of the Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Aughts, but it did so by a sickening margin, walloping In the Mood for Love by over 350 points. Infernal Affairs also grossed way more money than you'll ever see in your lifetime, reignited local excitement for Hong Kong film, and earned untold numbers of awards — and all this despite being a remake of Hard Boiled without the action. Sadly, the film is only number two here so we should just resign ourselves to that fact and move on. Site reader eldridge116 calls Infernal Affairs "the best written and edited, most intense crime drama HK ever made and they made quite a few." Infernal Affairs was basically your perfect storm: take a great script, a superb visual director, another director to shore up the first director's deficiencies, two top-of-the-line superstars, and surround them with an amazing cast of stars and character actors. Ask Christopher Doyle to stop by the set, release at Christmas and you've got yourself a mega-blockbuster that hey, also happens to be a damn good movie! Infernal Affairs got stretched a little by its quickie sequels but that shouldn't take away from its accomplishments — which frankly, are too numerous to list so we should just quit now. Know this: Infernal Affairs is easily one of the best Hong Kong films ever and probably always will be.


1. CHUNGKING EXPRESS (1994), directed by Wong Kar-Wai - 636 points, 24 first place votes

Chungking Express ranked #1 on our list of Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the 90s, but it's still a surprise to see it take the #1 slot here. It didn't completely obliterate its competition on the 90s vote like Infernal Affairs did in the aughts vote, plus it's not an overt genre film. And we doubt many will say that Chungking Express is more accomplished than In the Mood for Love or (maybe) The Grandmaster. But there's one thing Chungking Express has over other Wong Kar-Wai movies, and perhaps all other movies on this list: pure, unconditional love from its fans. Valerie Soe calls it "the cutest, quirkiest little art film ever made. Hong Kong, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Takeshi Kaneshiro were never more charming, romantic or swoon-worthy." Martin says the film is "Exhilarating lightning-in-a-bottle filmmaking from Wong Kar-Wai, the style of which I wish he could reproduce. There is little chance (read none) of that, but we'll always have Chungking Express." Lee Rankin perhaps nails it, saying "I still can't pin down why I love this movie so much. I just find that every time I watch it, I can't stop smiling for about two hours afterwards." Chungking Express is a movie that can be watched endlessly not just because it's about love, but because it's about movie love, i.e., the types of chance meetings and flash opportunities you wish would happen in real life, but seldom do. Chungking Express takes regret and longing and spins it into surprise and hope. We love this movie to death, too.


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Published November 17, 2014


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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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