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Counting Down HK's Top Flicks
March 15, 2012 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Time Out HK counts down the 100 Greatest Hong Kong Films (along with a mind map of the perfect HK film), while lovehkfilm.com begins its series on the Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Eighties.
posted by milquetoast (57 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and, yep, #1 is exactly what everyone thinks it is.
posted by griphus at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


On that first link, can anyone familiar with HK films give some insight on to, especially, the top 10? Is it reasonably accurate? I have not watched a single HK film, and am intrigued to delve into them. What has always kept me back is that everything John Woo has done in Hollywood has been steaming excrement.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:38 AM on March 15, 2012


Chow Yun-Fat has more charisma in his pinkie than most American action stars have in their entire career.

"Give a guy a gun, he thinks he's Superman. Give him two and he thinks he's God."
posted by entropicamericana at 8:46 AM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, he manages to look more badass in the opening scene to Hard Boiled -- wherein he makes himself a Tequila Slammer and plays the clarinet -- than most action stars can during the climax of their films.
posted by griphus at 8:51 AM on March 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was surprised Hard Boiled was so low on the list, even though objectively I can see why the other two major Woo/Chow collaborations are ranked higher. But then outside of a few action flicks and some Wong Kar Wai movies, I'm not that familiar with Hong Kong's output.

In the Mood for Love really is that good though.

(And is it just me or is Fist of Legend missing altogether in that list?)
posted by kmz at 8:56 AM on March 15, 2012


I love this post! Growing up in Hong Kong not speaking Cantonese was [i]incredibly[/i] frustrating, as nothing ever had English subtitles. Since moving to the UK six years ago, I've been trying to catch up with all that I missed, and a list like this will really help me dig up the ones I've forgotten!

The Woo/Chow films are probably my favourites. They're not usually awfully challenging (though they do have a lot more depth than most action flicks) and brilliantly visually executed. And just cool. Hard Boiled is the pinnacle of these, in my opinion. (I'm disappointed that the wikipedia page on the genre has been renamed from 'Hong Kong Blood Opera'.)

On the top 100 list, I'm mostly surprised to see Infernal Affairs all the way down in 14th, and A Chinese Odyssey in the top 20 - I really enjoyed it, but there's a lot of stuff I think is better. It's good to see such a variety as well - Hong Kong cinema often gets portrayed as all guns and kung-fu films, and it really isn't (though they are bloody good at both those things!)
posted by Dysk at 9:20 AM on March 15, 2012


No Exiled? For shame. Simultaneously sad and funny and it presages Vengeance in many ways.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:25 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also Fallen Angels is pretty good despite being sort of an extension to Chungking Express.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2012


Before I look, these movies better be on there:
Chungking Express
In the Mood for Love
A Better Tomorrow
Hard Boiled


Phew. OK. List approved.
posted by clorox at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2012


This is amazing. Thanks, milquetoast.
posted by clockzero at 9:35 AM on March 15, 2012


In the Mood for Love really is that good though.

I'm just going to quote this again in the hopes that anyone reading this thread who hasn't seen In the Mood for Love will stop whatever it is they're doing and go watch it right now.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:38 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if they're in the middle of a chaste quasi-affair? What then, smart guy?
posted by griphus at 9:41 AM on March 15, 2012


Then they need to see how to do it right.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look like a solid list. I'm glad to see these there:

12. Comrades: Almost a Love Story 甜蜜蜜 (1996) is a sweet love story

19. A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora’s Box 西遊記第壹佰零壹回之月光寶盒
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella 西遊記大結局之仙履奇緣 (1995)

48. McDull, Prince de la Bun 麥兜.菠蘿油王子 (2004)

What I don't agree with is No. 63 Love in a Puff 志明與春嬌 (2010). It's kind of cute but didn't seem that special.
posted by of strange foe at 9:50 AM on March 15, 2012


Looks, not look.
posted by of strange foe at 9:54 AM on March 15, 2012


...and, yep, #1 is exactly what everyone thinks it is.

Enter the Dragon?
posted by the cuban at 9:56 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's a simplified version of the top 100 list, from #1 down, split into 2 pages instead of 19.

Another Top 100 HK films list: top 100 films of the Nineties, from YesAsia.

I'm excited to see these lists, because after a fleeting taste of HK cinema in college, I haven't seen anything else. My Afghan friend would bring a pile of films back from his Chinese friends in the bay area, so my understanding of Asian cinema is largely focused on releases from 2000-2004, so Stephen Chow lives next to Joint Security Area and Battle Royale in my brain, along with a movie about two guys who learn to make bras, which is (not) surprisingly hard to find online, based on that limited information.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:02 AM on March 15, 2012


When I saw "HK," I assumed it was "Hello Kitty." My daughter will be disappointed.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:04 AM on March 15, 2012


Infernal Affairs is such a fantastic movie, unlike its boring schlocky counterpart that got Scorsese an Academy Award.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:09 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chunky Express!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 AM on March 15, 2012


I'm glad to see Kung Fu Hustle and <9>Shaolin Soccer got in there. I'd personally rate it much higher in my limited experience, but I'm pleasantly surprised that a Serious Film Review wold acknowledge them. Two more fun movies have never been made. And Drunken Master! Yes! I'm even appeased by the three Bruce Lee films... I guess they couldn't just pack the top 5.

My only complaint is Crouching Tiger in the top ten, especially without any showing for House of Flying Daggers, which is much prettier, better choreographed, better acted, makes more sense, and doesn't drag on. Hell, I'd take Iron Monkey over

In other news, I've seen a much bigger proportion of these than any of the western top-100 lists. I had no idea I might be particularly well-versed in HK cinema. I do see a lot in here that I had no idea about, and a lot I've always meant to see. Looks like tonight I'm not watching the Dirty Ho I normally watch! Hoo-aah

posted by cmoj at 10:21 AM on March 15, 2012


I love the humanism and (usually) social realism of Chang-dong Lee from Korean, and Kore'eda Hirokazu from Japan. Are there any HK directors who make similar movies?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:23 AM on March 15, 2012


I saw Drunken Master on there, but I really enjoyed Drunken Master II more. Depending on the day, I might even say I like Who Am I? better than both of those, even though I recognize it might not be the kind of movie that ends up on a 'best of' list.

It was also heartening to see Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle ranked so highly; there's some of the most purely entertaining movies I've ever seen.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:24 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


What, Project A didn't even make the top 100? Something is wrong with these people.
posted by hattifattener at 10:27 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I’m afraid this has re-kindled my old obsession. I haven’t watched any HK films in years, but I spent a few years at the beginning of the 90’s watching practically nothing else, so I haven’t heard of "In the Mood for Love" or many other newer films listed here.

I first saw a few bootlegs show up at comic shows and we quickly moved on to having an account at a Chinatown laserdisc rental store. I remember the woman there looking at me with surprise and telling me the movies weren’t in English. I still have a shelf of video tapes that I copied from those laserdiscs and I came across the rental store membership card the other day. Good times.
posted by bongo_x at 10:27 AM on March 15, 2012


I love HK action films. My wife, not so much, but we both positively adored Kung Fu Hustle. Something about the humor caught us totally off guard and we laughed ourselves silly throughout. What a great movie.
posted by jquinby at 10:30 AM on March 15, 2012


Kung Fu Hustle is Stephen Chow's Pulp Fiction, in that it's very enjoyable as an example of the genre, but the deeper you dig into its conventions, the more you discover.
posted by griphus at 10:43 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, the subtitler who had the Landlord and Landlady refer to themselves as "Paris and Helen of Troy" instead of the untentable-for-obvious-reasons Chinese literature reference in the original deserves some sort of prize.
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on March 15, 2012


Where the heck is "36th Chamber of Shao Lin"?

I started searching at the front because I was sure it would be in the top 10. But it's not on the list at all.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:03 AM on March 15, 2012


Where the heck is "36th Chamber of Shao Lin"?

Supplanted by Eight Diagram Pole Fighter which is a better movie by the same team, I think.

Also, nthing the Stephen Chow love, but I've always been of the opinion (rather heretical, I guess) that God Of Cookery is his best film.

Still, I've only seen about half this list and I consider myself well educated on HK film. I'm actually pretty excited.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:20 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


As long as "The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk" is in there, I will not have to go on a rampage.

How I adore that movie.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:48 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Agreed, Lumpenprole. God of Cookery is an excellent movie. I normally keeps giggles quiet when I see something in the theater but I could hardly contain thr contents of my bladder, let alone my laughs, when I saw GoC.

I bought an obviously bootleg VHS at a Chinese grocery and made anyone who was willing watch it. It was the closest I have ever come to being a missionary.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


No Exiled? For shame. Simultaneously sad and funny and it presages Vengeance in many ways.

I went on a Milkyway/Johnnie To binge last year, so it's good to some representation in Election 2 at least (didn't check over the whole list for others that made it).

Exiled and Vengeance are both good. Others I liked: The Mission, A Hero Never Dies, The Longest Nite, & Accident.
posted by juv3nal at 12:15 PM on March 15, 2012


It is sad to me that I cannot easily rent or own many of the films on the list. If someone know where to get these movies via streaming or DVD, please let me know.

Thanks! :)
posted by jchaw at 12:18 PM on March 15, 2012


Thematically Way of the Dragon is a much better film than Fist of Fury, but Lee was not that great of a director. Most of Chan's flicks are easily second-rate to a hell of lot others, and people only know them through name recognition. As much as I like Donnie Yen, the Ip Man films are good but not great. A Touch of Zen should've been on there but I guess didn't make it because it was made in Taiwan. Also, Hero should be on there. The Red Cliff films are my favorite battle epics in any language and I'm a little disappointed they didn't make it. Otherwise, this is great for me to fill out some of my must watch list.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:34 PM on March 15, 2012


Neither Hero nor Red Cliff are Hong Kong films.
posted by kmz at 12:56 PM on March 15, 2012


By what standard? Studio? Distribution? City of filming/

I think if we went through the list there would be a lot discrepancies on what should be strictly a HK film.

I guess Red Cliff takes a pass in most respects, but Hero is pretty much a Hong Kong film.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:06 PM on March 15, 2012


Great lists, thanks for posting them! I could quibble about some great films being placed lower than I'd like, but my one real complaint is that they left off the wonderful Jin yu man tang (The Chinese Feast; IMDb, Wikipedia; produced and directed by Tsui Hark! starring Leslie Cheung!), which is hilarious and gripping and has one of the best climaxes I've seen that doesn't involve blazing guns. Go rent it!
posted by languagehat at 1:19 PM on March 15, 2012


I love the humanism and (usually) social realism of Chang-dong Lee from Korean, and Kore'eda Hirokazu from Japan. Are there any HK directors who make similar movies?

For comparison with Koreeda Hirokazu (I'm not familiar with Chang-dong Lee), Ann Hui springs to mind. Her works are prominently featured in the Time Out list, and deservedly so. Check out her most recent work A Simple Life for starters.
posted by fatehunter at 2:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mid 80s was definitely Jackie Chan's golden period, with Project A*, Wheels on Meals*, Police Story, Armour of God*, Project A II*, and later Miracles and Armour of God II*. I have a soft spot for City Hunter, but that's probably just me. Dragons Forever* is pretty good. Supercop* was really good.

Of his old movies, my favorite is The Young Master.

More recent movies worth seeing are Shinjuku Incident* (no martial arts but good, and he's playing against type), New Police Story was good, and Little Big Soldier* was OK. I have 1911* at home, but I hear it's bad.

* = on Netflix streaming

On a related note, The Raid: Redemption opens soon in the US, and it's getting great buzz. It's Indonesian, though, not Chinese.
posted by Huck500 at 2:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


P.o.B.: Hero is pretty much a Hong Kong film.

It was subject to foreign film import quotas in Hong Kong, though, which is why its release there was delayed, wasn't it?
posted by Dysk at 2:58 PM on March 15, 2012


Idk, but I'm honestly interested in what makes a film specifically a HK film these days. If you look at the wiki it list 4 different studios, 2 different distro companies, and it lists Hong Kong as it's origin. So again I don't know, and I'm not an expert on film making from that part of the world, but from what I gather the last 10 years kind of skews what is specifically a HK film or not. By all means, strike it from thought if it is bothersome.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:17 PM on March 15, 2012


Mid 80s was definitely Jackie Chan's golden period, with Project A*, Wheels on Meals*, Police Story, Armour of God*, Project A II*, and later Miracles and Armour of God II*

Agreed. I think it had to with the fact that he was working closely with Sammo Hung on most of the late 80's ones. Sammo really taught Jackie how to direct, I think.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:10 PM on March 15, 2012


I guess I'm the odd one out but I like Chan's newer stuff, like Little Big Soldier. Think what you will about the new The Karate Kid, but Chan was the best part of that film and did a fantastic job in it.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:19 PM on March 15, 2012


Hard Boiled and Happy Together both got robbed. But I am glad to see the Election 2 was as high as it was (though I liked 1 better.)
posted by aspo at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2012


I was initially doubtful when, on the first page of the Time Out list, Hard Boiled barely made the top 100, and was rated lower than Naked Killer. Which . . . . no.

My doubt was confirmed when Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain didn't even make the top 20.

grumble grumble grumble grumble.

@ jchaw: a fairly large number of these films (and more besides) are available from Netflix, including streaming. If you check out filthy light thief's "condensed version" link, once you click on the film name, you can then click on an Amazon link.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:12 PM on March 15, 2012


Mid 80s was definitely Jackie Chan's golden period, with Project A*, Wheels on Meals*, Police Story, Armour of God*, Project A II*, and later Miracles and Armour of God II*

Man, I loves me some Police Story

But a couple of years ago, I saw New Police Story. Thinking I would get the same old goofy action comedy, I got an aging cop's struggle with survivor's guilt (after his entire team is brtually murdered in front of him) and descent into alcoholism and deep, black despair.

That shit got dark.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on March 15, 2012


This is a pretty good list. I like the number #1 pick, but the best HK film evah? I think Days of Being Wild is a better film than In the Mood for Love. That'd be my number one. (Obviously Chungking Express should rank higher as well!) I guess with stuff like this the order is not so important. They have a great set of films, so of which I really want to watch again now.
posted by chunking express at 6:40 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having just finished my final exams this morning, slept for a couple hours, and been preparing for my yearly rewatch of Chungking Express, this list is most appreciated. Time to spend my break diving into Hong Kong movies.
posted by edeezy at 7:01 PM on March 15, 2012


OK, they get points for adding God of Gamblers (Chow Yun-Fat is so. freaking. suave. in the beginning of this) and Mister Vampire, which teaches us that if your master asks for sticky rice, he goddamn means sticky rice. Accept no substitutes!

However, I was amazed that Once a Thief (such a fun heist film featuring a flaming basketball of doom) and Police Story 2 were missing, as well as my beloved Legend of Fong Sai Yuk. (Seriously, the fight scene on top of scaffolding that later leads to a battle on top of a crowd is one of my favorite sequences ever.)

Plus, no Heroic Trio? For shame...

And agreed on Drunken Master II being more fun. Hmm, I need to find where my copy went off to.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wong Kar-Wai is the only Hong Kong director I'm familiar with. In fact if you count rewatches I have probably seen more WKW movies than all other movies each of the past few years.

So obviously I love to have my taste ratified. Some of these other films look intriguing too.
posted by grobstein at 8:36 PM on March 15, 2012


Check out her most recent work A Simple Life for starters.

Hits a little too close to home, that one. Watching that would probably make my wife cry for an entire week. I will check out Hui's other films, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2012


KokuRyu: If A Simple Life hits too close to home, you might want to avoid Summer Snow as well, which was Hui's most internationally renowned film prior to ASL.

Since we're quibbling about about the order of the list, I'll lodge a complaint that Summer Snow ranks too low. I saw this film as a teenage boy; the title "Woman at 40" (literal translation) wan't exactly appealing, and the subject matter of Alzheimer's even less so. I can't recall how I got stuck watching it on VCD (bless those olden days). All I remember is that I kept watching, and the last scene made me so happy. And I love films.
posted by fatehunter at 9:28 PM on March 15, 2012


Oh, Once a Thief. Leslie Cheung! Chow Yun-Fat! Goofiness and stealing - that crappy old VCD is still in my possession.

Watching God of Cookery always makes me want to eat all the things. After each viewing the pantry ends up inevitably empty.

I also once attempted to critique my mother's cooking the same way Chow did with the bowl of noodles in the beginning for lolz. That was not one of my better ideas.
posted by zennish at 12:11 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the way the judge rolls around on the bowl of char sui during the judging dream sequence in the God of Cookery. Pissing Shrimp Balls FTW!
posted by arcticseal at 1:01 AM on March 16, 2012


Oh no. God of Cookery is on Google Video (and not on Netflix streaming? Bah!)

I really (really, really, REALLY) want to skip an hour and a half of work RIGHT NOW and re-watch this.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:45 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


thanks so much for the God of Cookery recommendation! I just watched it - never seen Karen Mok in a role like that before, and really enjoyed her part in the movie.
posted by aielen at 1:02 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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