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The Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade (#10-01)

Ladies, Gentleman and Ken. Welcome to my top ten Hong Kong Movies of the last decade. The first four parts of the article can be found here; 50-41, 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11. So with no further waiting, please read the rest of my personal favourites and leave a comment. See you in 2010!

10. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Everyone knew Stephen Chow was meant for better things when he released Shaolin Soccer to the world back in 2001. Just like everyone else we waited with baited breath to see what Mr. Chow was going to make next. When we got the final result in December 2004, it broke box office records!

Kung Fu Hustle, set in Shanghai during the 1940s, Sing (Stephen Chow) is a wannabe gangster who pretends to be a member of the deadly “Axe Gang”. When attempting to scare the residents (led by Yuen Qiu and Yuen Wah) of an broken down old tenement building, the residents reveal their secret martial arts skills whilst defending their homes.

My expectations for this movie were blown out of the water! Everything about this movie was awesome, the soundtrack, the characters, computer effects and lets not forget to mention the throwing knives-scene, which leads to the chase between Sing and the Landlady done in Looney Tunes-style! I still laugh my ass off every time I watch this movie, it has great replay value and I believe this isn’t one of those movies only dedicated fans of the genre will enjoy.

When attending a screening of the movie at my local cinema the full audience gave the movies a standing applause! The second I got the DVD I started giving out my copy to all my friends in college urging them to watch the movie and they were hooked! At the time of writing this, the movie is easily accessible in the United Kingdom on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Download so there’s no excuse not to see it!

09. Election (2005)

Legendary crime director Johnnie To introduces us to the dark and almost too real world of underground societies. An election amongst the triad society is held every two years to decide who the leader of the society is. Once the votes have been decided the victor receives the prized wooden dragon head baton, but jealousy can cause people to do terrible, terrible things.

I had originally thought this movie was quiet naff because of its slow pace and confusing story (well it was for me). Three viewings later and now I get it! The movie has a slow build because it’s only really half the story. Yes we do see characters reach their boiling points in the later half of the film but damn I don’t want to go fishing in Hong Kong ever! Not even with monkeys!

Johnnie To has done a stellar job with this movie, Simon Yam plays the cool, level headed boss where as Tony Leung is the wild one who doesn’t give a toss when it comes to double crossing his brothers! The characters of Nick Cheung and Louis Koo are mainly planted into this story so that they’ve grown enough to handle the sequel as the leading characters. Another thing I better mention, Wong Jing’s dad is still alive!? Oh wait…

08. Rule Number One (2008)

Singaporean director Kelvin Tong director delivers a freaky flick that doesn’t revolve around scary little Japanese children! Shawn Yue plays the normal run of the mill Hong Kong cop who after barely surviving a horrific incident is relocated to M.A.D (Miscellaneous Affairs Department). A department ran by a ballroom dino-dancer drunk with a past (played by a rather rough looking Ekin Cheng)!

The movie is a dark, twisted and wonderfully weird buddy cop movie. After originally watching it, I had to either retell the tale to anyone that would listen or enlighten them by letting watch this magnificent movie. The movie proved successful for both leading actors who shared the Best Actor award at the 2008 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival.

07. Throwdown (2004)

Aaron Kwok stars in one of my all time favourite Johnnie To movies. The movie heavily focuses on Judo, the art of throwing your enemy across the room! It really does seem to have the “Everyone was Kung Fu fighting” feel to it, Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Louis Koo and everyone else seems to be dab hands at Judo too! For those not familiar with the plot, it’s the story of a former Judo champion (Koo) given a chance to redeem himself after meeting an inspiring competitor (Kwok) and an aspired singer (Cherrie Ying).

You can’t help but love the work put into the movie, there is a great scene where our three leading characters are each having conversations with people at three different tables and they keep interrupting or butting in at other tables, very well filmed. Also the enthusiasm of Aaron Kwoks character is really amusing, there are some great scenes where he eyes up a bouncer and makes a bet that he could throw him in one move. Another great scene is when Kwok’s character is injured; he begins to develop a one armed style of judo. Louis Koo also does a cracking job and jogs your memory that he is one of the biggest stars to come out of this decade. At first you think of his character as this throw-away drunk, not much acting prowess needed here, just lie around, throw up, stare at the camera with a glazed look of pity and remorse in your eyes etc but when his character is sobers up and stops getting his ass kicked by Aaron Kwok, he really does deliver!

06. Fearless: The Directors Cut (2006)

This movie is THE best period martial arts movie from this decade, starring Jet Li as Huo Yuan Jia. A talented and famous martial artist, after showing off a little too much, karma catches up with him.

As you may have noticed I have chosen the directors cut over the original. The structure of the movie is far better, the time-line isn’t complicated and the movie even starts in present day with Michelle Yeoh before going back in time. Unlike the original release of the movie where we begin at the big fight tournament and then are taken back to his childhood, obviously that doesn’t make the movie any worse but I prefer this structure. The martial arts in the movie is awesome. Jet Li fights against various opponents with weaponry and the obvious highlight is Jet’s battle against Japanese actor Shido Nakamura (the pair fight using the katana against the three section staff).

The movie was obviously a great achievement since it earned several nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards (including Best Picture and Best Actor) it was voted as Jet Li’s best movie on Podcast on Fire’s Jet Li Special.

05. Crazy N’The City (2005)

My Wife is 18 director James Yuen delivers an excellent drama based around several characters living in Wan Chai. We have two young cops Chris, an old hand who has lost his career ambition and Manly, a young female who has just been transferred from her village to the city. The movie also stars Francis Ng, as Shing a mentally broken man who has no family, is in debt and has suicidal intentions. Also, did I mention that there is a dark subplot where serial killer who only comes out during the rain has begun killing innocent teenage girls!?

This is easily my all time favourite Eason Chan movie, the scenes where he is teaching self defence to high school girls and he interacts with two of the girls leads to a shocking twist of events. This movie was a blind buy (my original interest in the movie was the brief appearance of Chin Kar-Lok), but man it was an amazing film and I’ve probably watched it 4 or 5 times since buying it originally. Other guest appearances include; Waise Lee, Alex Fong, Lam Suet, Hui Siu-Hung, Dick Liu and Sam Lee.

This movie is really pleasant, shocking and damn right rewarding!

04. Beyond Our Ken (2004)

Definitely my current all time favourite movie from dark comedy director Pang Ho-Cheung (Men Suddenly in Black, Isabella). Our leading actresses include Gillian Chung and Hong Tao and our “Ken” is played by Daniel Wu. If you’re not familiar with the story; Cocktail waitress Shirley (Tao) is confronted by Chan (Chung), former girlfriend of her current partner Ken (Wu). Ken has ruined Chan’s career by posting intimate nude photographs of her on the internet, causing her to loose her job as a school teacher. Shirley soon realizes her fate could also be in jeopardy as she has already posed in some rather compromising photographs. The two girls form a plan to delete the photos and plan sickly sweet revenge against Ken. Oh, but that is just the start of many, many twists in this road.

The actresses are insanely talented as they are gorgeous, but one of the interesting facts coming out of this movie was only years later real nude photographs of Gillian Chung (and a few other big names) were leaked on the internet. It was the media scandal of the decade, which even caused Gillian to step away from the media spotlight for several months.

03. Infernal Affairs (2002)

I spent most of my time and money on Hong Kong classics such as Police Story, Pedicab Driver etc. I had never come across a current movie that was a true classic as soon as I finished it for the first time, Infernal Affairs became that classic. The story is about the triads planting a mole in the Hong Kong Police Force but the police have also put one of their best officers undercover amongst the triads. Both men need to seek out the moles amongst their respected societies.

I didn’t give two hoots about the leading actors beforehand because I wasn’t familiar with them (Tony Leung? That’s the bloke from Island of Fire right?). A big shock for me when I first saw this movie was the fact that Eric Tsang was playing it straight. At that time to me, I always knew him playing characters such as the horny little idiot in My Lucky Stars or Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars. The big twists to this movie includes Anthony Wong’s character and the finale on the rooftop will stand out as one of the best moments in Hong Kong Cinema for many, many years to come.

Worldwide, Infernal Affairs won over 23 awards (including Best Actor, Picture, Director, Best Supporting Actor) and it was quite obvious that movie impressed a lot of people! Heck, one of Hollywood’s most legendary directors; Martin Scorsese directed the remake of this movie with the cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and the cussing’ Mark Wahlberg. The remake even earned four Oscars as well as 50 more awards worldwide.

02. Mad Detective (2007)

To me this is the finest Johnnie To movie, starring a Lau Ching-Wan who’s resurrecting his career again. Everyone knows that Lau Ching-Wan is a great actor, it is easily proved with his award winning performance in My Name is Fame. Here he’s teamed up with Andy On, a brilliant screen fighter, but his acting career hasn’t gone any further than a bit part in To’s Election 2.

The movie focuses on schizophrenic, ex-police inspector (Lau), who solved his cases by re-enacting the crimes step by step, thus miraculously discovering the killer’s motives and proceeding to solve each case. He comes out of retirement to help a young rookie (On) solve a complex murder case involving another police officer (Lam) who is expected to have a extreme case multiple personality disorder. The movie does deserve two or three viewings as you discover some brilliant moments you might not have seen on your first viewing, especially during the last scene with all the broken mirrors.

01. Exiled (2006)

Ladies and gentlemen I give you my movie of the decade; Exiled… which is quite amusing since I really didn’t care for the first movie The Mission.

On the verge of 1998, a group of hit men have been sent on a mission to track down one of their own men who deserted them in hope of start a new with his wife and child. When catching up with their old acquaintance, the group have split opinions whether to hand him over or let him and his family escape.

Directed by Johnnie To and featuring a line up of Hong Kong cinemas top stars; Nick Cheung (recent Best Actor award winner for Beast Stalker), Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Simon Yam, Gordon Lam, Richie Jen, Roy Cheung and Lam Suet. The star potential could almost rival one of the Ocean movies (yes Lam Suet is obviously the Hong Kong equivalent of George Clooney). When it comes to the shootouts in this movie, they are awesome. No it’s not the case of six guys fighting an army of triads, we get these fast paced gun fights where everyone and their door get a piece of the action. Also, the last battle also includes a very unfortunate tin of Red Bull!

Thank you for reading.

6 comments on “The Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade (#10-01)

  1. tonsofun says:

    you’re right about crazy n’ the city. very rewaerding and deserving of its place

  2. Drunken Master says:

    Not seen “Crazy n’ The City” or “Beyond Our Ken” though BOK has been on my wanted list for a while. Is “Exiled” the only Johnnie To film not predicted to be nimber 1? You sly dog. 😉

  3. Stoo says:

    I was grinning like a fool when everyone was putting in their bids.

  4. Drunken Master says:

    Or were you keeping it in reserve?

    Good choice anyway. 🙂

  5. Kamen Liew says:

    Gotta agree with most of these selections.

    4 Johnnie films in the Top 10! Amazing.

    Is it me or is Anthony Wong and Francis Ng currently bidding for the number one spot of most acting appearances on this list? Eric Tsang & Simon Yam are running dangerously close.

    Infernal Affairs should be Hong Kong movie of the decade.

    Fantastic job Stu! Must be hard putting these lists together. This Asian has nothing but profound respect. Keep up the good work.

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