Some of the greatest Asian movies were made in Hong Kong
I am sure that you remember Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. They’ve acted in many popular Hong Kong movies. But there is a lot more than martial arts when it comes to HK cinematography. Over the decades, legendary movies have been born in this part of the world. Even if you’re not familiar with the HK cinema, there is a chance you’ve watched some old kung-fu or triads films made there. In fact, most kung-fu films were produced in HK.
We are trying to recommend you some of the most renowned Hong Kong movies. Do let us know if you’d like to include some of your favorites.
15 great Hong Kong movie recommendations
This Hong Kong movies list is definitely not complete, but it has everything a beginner needs in order to understand this trend. This list contains romance movies, martial arts movies, crime movies, and the normal slice of life movies. If you like these recommendations make sure to spread the word. The Hong Kong cinema must survive and experience a revival.
Innovative visual beauty renews the image of Hong Kong movies!
Wong Kar-wai, a leading filmmaker in the 90’s, is a topical work that depicts the fluffy love pattern of two couples in an omnibus format. The stage is Chungking Mansions, a multi-tenant building in Kowloon, a lawless area in Hong Kong. The story unfolds around the encounters and farewells of police officer No. 663, who has just lost love, a woman who is a drug trafficker, and police officer No. 223, who continues to pass each other with a new clerk at a restaurant that he goes to. Speaking of Hong Kong movies, in an era when there were many kung fu movies and comedies, I drew a love story with colorful and immersive images, creating a new style.
Rumors spread all over the world, making the names of Takeshi Kaneshiro and Faye Wong, who were unknown in Japan, suddenly famous, and the location became a famous place for Japanese tourists! In addition to co-starring Tony Leung and Kinjo, the insert song “Meng Zhong Ren” sung by singer Faye Wong is also noteworthy.
A poetic love story about a sad love between married people
Following the above-mentioned “Chungking Express”, I recommend a rare movie with the theme of affair, which is one of Wong Kar-wai’s masterpieces. The title “Hana-sama Nenka” refers to “flower-like gorgeous days” in Chinese, and in Japan it was translated as “mature women are the most shining like flowers in full bloom.” .. In Hong Kong in the 1960s, the farewells of married men and women who have fallen into a forbidden relationship are repeated, and the passage of time is spelled out. The main character, Chau, is modeled on Hong Kong short film writer Lau Yi Chung, and Tony Leung, who played it, won the 53rd Cannes International Film Festival Actor Award. It is a very quiet work with a non-explicit sensual atmosphere, decadent music and melancholic visual beauty that excites emotions. The colorful cheongsam dressed by Mrs. Maggie Cheung is also a highlight! From her role, this work is positioned as the sequel to the director’s work, Days of Being Wild, and the first part of 2046.
A full-scale kung fu movie featuring Bruce Lee’s only master
A movie adaptation of the spectacular life of Ip Man, a master of Chinese martial arts “Wing Chun” famous as the only master of legendary star Bruce Lee, starring Donnie Yen. The stage is Foshan, Guangdong Province, China in the 1930s. Ip Man was respected as the best martial artist in town and lived in peace with his family, but the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937. Deprived of everything by the Japanese troops who occupied Foshan, he was forced to teach Chinese martial arts to Japanese soldiers, and he decided to fight against Japanese military officers to protect the pride of the Chinese and Chinese martial arts. The director is Wilson Yip of “SPL / Kill Zone, Quiet”, and the cast includes Simon Yam and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi. In 2009, he won the Best Film Award at the 28th Hong Kong Film Awards, thanks to the efforts of Donnie Yen, who was directed by Sammo Hung and worked on the practice of Wing Chun from scratch.
Taking the hit of this work as an opportunity, “Ip Man” was made into a series, and the sequels “Ip Man 2” and “Ip Man Inheritance” were also produced.
In 2019, the spin-off movie “Ip Man Gaiden Master Z” featuring Jung Tin-chi, who lost the battle of Wing Chun in “Succession” and left the martial arts world, will be released. Donnie Yen is also involved in the production, and depicts Tinch, who should have abandoned Wing Chun, confronting a criminal organization.
An action blockbuster made to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Jackie Chan’s debut
A comical action movie about the battle between pirates and police organizations, starring, directing, writing, and teaching martial arts in the year of Jackie Chan’s 10th anniversary. Other casts include Sammo Hung Kimpo and Yuen Biao. In the 1900s, the city of Hong Kong under the British colony was plagued by pirate domineering. At that time, the water police such as the dragon will be absorbed and integrated into the land police led by the hostile Captain Jaguar. In order to save the Admirals of the Royal Navy who were taken hostage by the pirates, the elite people including the mud Faye will activate the “A plan” between the reconciled dragon and Jaguar, and the dragon and the old acquaintance. Pay attention to the literally “life-threatening” actions, including Jackie Chan’s promise “Ending Blooper” and “Clock Tower Fall Scene” that he was seriously injured! The theme song “Toho Weifu” has been used many times in the BGM of Japanese TV programs and has been popular for many years.
Jackie Chan makes its first appearance in Japan
A masterpiece of young Jackie Chan, following “Snake in the Eagles”. This is a kung fu movie modeled on Wong Fei Hung, a master of Hung Ga who actually existed at the end of the Qing dynasty. Although he is the son of a prestigious dojo, his father, who couldn’t see Hung Fei Hung, who spends his days depraved with his bad friends, entrusts his son to Drunken Master “Sukako”. Kung fu’s skill is “moderate”, but after troubles in various places, he becomes aware of his immaturity and learns his skills. Bruce Lee was the mainstream of the full-scale kung fu movie at that time, and the comedy element was successfully incorporated into it, and the unique turn of the mystery “Suihachiken”, which becomes stronger as you get drunk, is attractive! Jackie’s character was also well received, and the sequel “Drunken Master 2” was produced in 1994.
A new whirlwind of the Hong Kong film industry that has been remade in Hollywood!
The first of a trilogy dealing with one of the most popular subjects in the Hong Kong film industry: the mafia living in the underworld of Hong Kong and the police struggling to eradicate them. In the same 18-year-old year, a young mafia man who infiltrated the police and a police officer who was ordered to infiltrate a mafia organization learned about each other over a drug trade. A blockbuster co-starring popular actors Tony Leung and Andy Lau, it has created a new sensation in the slumping industry. In the original title, “Muma-michi,” “Muma” is a Buddhist term meaning “forever unhelpful.” The struggle between the two who carry on the hardship of being a spy and continue to fight lonely is also a highlight. The detailed script also fascinated Hollywood, and the remake version of “The Departed” starring Leonardo DiCaprio won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In Japan, this movie was remade as a co-produced drama “Double Face” by TBS and WOWOW in 2012, so I think many people know it.
The popular movie “Infernal Affairs”, whose trilogy has been released as a series and has been remade in Japan and the United States. Not only in Hong Kong, but also in the synopsis, cast, and highlights of this series, which is a masterpiece representing Asia.
The love and hate of Peking Opera actors who were at the mercy of the times of turmoil.
Based on the novel of the same name by Lilian Lee, a Hong Kong-China collaboration film depicting the era of turmoil under Japanese rule from the eyes of two Peking Opera actors who devoted themselves to acting. Beijing, China in the 1920s. Kozuko was bullied at a Peking Opera training school because she was a child of a girl, but with the help of her senior Ishitou, she became famous as a onnagata. Aside from Azumako, who turns homosexuality toward Ishitou, he succeeds in the name of Dankoro and marries Kikusen, the “girl” that Azumako hates. It expresses the turbulent life of Peking Opera actors who were at the mercy of the political system and war with love and hate, and is a must-see in terms of knowing historical issues! The sad development with a feeling of loneliness brings tears to tears, but the costumes and sets of the Peking Opera are very gorgeous, and the work has an artistic atmosphere.
In 1993, he won the highest award Palme d’Or at the 46th Cannes International Film Festival. In Japan, it was staged in 2008 with Noriyuki Higashiyama, and received high praise worldwide.
An action movie that has been a worldwide hit and is renowned as Bruce Lee’s masterpiece.
Another movie recommendation is the monumental piece produced in collaboration with Hong Kong and the United States that sparked the global boom in Bruce Lee and karate films. Just before the release of this work, Bruce Lee died at the young age of 32 and will be handed down as a legendary action star. Armed with Shorinji Kempo, the main character, Lee, boarded a martial arts tournament on a fortified island as an insider and stood up to defeat the drug factory boss Han.
In addition to kung fu action, this is an exhilarating and exciting action movie in which suspense elements such as revenge, betrayal, and conspiracy are developed at a good tempo. In 2018, the creator Warner Bros. is planning a remake version, and the director reported that David Leitch is in talks.
A unique work by Wong Kar-wai depicting homosexuality.
“Buenos Aires” is a unique romance drama that depicts the sad love between men, chosen by the genius Wong Kar-wai, who has photographed the city of Hong Kong since his debut, set in a foreign country (Argentina). The stage is behind Hong Kong, and South America is Buenos Aires. With Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung co-starring, the momentary love of men who can only hurt each other even though they are attracted to each other by repeating trivial fights and farewells many times during a wandering journey. In addition to co-starring the two major stars in Greater China, Wong Kar-wai’s first attempt at homosexuality and his skill captured from a thoroughly pushed out perspective are also talked about. The vivid life pattern of a gay couple is colored by the magnificent natural beauty and the sad melody of BGM, leaving an indescribable lingering sound. Director Wong Kar-wai can be said to be one of the directors who produced many masterpieces among Hong Kong film directors. It’s a director who is very popular with Japanese people.
Approaching a famous actor who fascinated people with beautiful acting Leslie Cheung, a world-famous movie star who fascinated many people with her bewitching presence and beautiful and delicate acting. It is still very popular even after passing away. Introducing the activities and charms of the famous actor Leslie Cheung, who has appeared in many masterpieces in the history of Asian films.
A monumental tower that established the genre of “Hong Kong Noir”
A successful film directed by John Woo, who coined the word “Hong Kong Noir” in the film world. A slightly hard-boiled film for men, it won the 6th Hong Kong Film Award for Best Film in 1987. The brother of the Hong Kong Mafia who manufactures fake bills, the brother who became a detective of the Hong Kong Police Force, and the brother’s best friend and brotherhood and friendship are drawn with stylish gun action. This work, which changed the course of the Hong Kong film industry, was immediately serialized, and two sequels were produced.
Hong Kong Noir is a sub-genre in a crime movie collectively called “Film Noir”, and it is characterized by depicting “friendship between men” and including intense action. At that time, it was a big hit in Japan and other Asian countries, and in 2011, the Korean remake version of “A Better Tomorrow” was released.
A pure love movie with impressive Teresa Teng songs
A love romance movie about 10 years of love between men and women who came to Hong Kong from mainland China with the music of Teresa Ten, who is also loved in Japan. Shiukwan and Reikiu deepen their friendship because they like Teresa Teng. However, Shiukwan has a lover who left his hometown, and the two will follow different paths. Later, Shiukwan married his lover, but he happened to meet Reikiu at the reception, and his feelings rekindled. Maggie Cheung’s performance as Reikiu was also highly evaluated, and she won the Best Film Award and Best Actress Award at the Hong Kong Film Awards called the Hong Kong Academy Awards. Set in a turbulent era before the return to China, the forbidden relationship between men and women is carefully and realistically depicted, making you feel the “mystery of meeting people”.
A unique suspense that bursts with Johnnie To’s love for Hong Kong
Directed by Johnnie To, which was released in Hong Kong after being screened in the competition section of the 58th Berlin International Film Festival in 2008. In Japan, it was screened at the 9th Tokyo Filmex under the title of “Bunjaku”, and the DVD was released to the general public in 2010 and was not released to theaters.
A crime suspense that funnyly reflects the end of the turmoil, as a group of four pickpocketers in Hong Kong think about the same beauty and are taken by her mysterious girlfriend. The original title, “Sparrow,” means Java sparrow, which is a Cantonese jargon for pickpockets. Taking pickpockets as a culture, the wonderful camera work is used to capture the changing city of Hong Kong after the return and the men who live in the culture that will be lost. Don’t miss the director’s love-filled end credits, including the last, which is said to be conscious of the movie “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” and black-and-white photographs of people in Hong Kong and the city!
Hard-boiled movies of men tied to organization and friendship
One of the “Hong Kong Noirs” in “A Better Tomorrow”, where Johnnie To takes a megaphone and depicts the fate of five men swaying between organization and friendship. Five ex-members have been convened to identify the Hong Kong mafia boss Bun’s escort and the enemies who attacked him. The members repelled each other due to their different fields of expertise, and finally found the enemy’s hideout, but they were waiting for the rules of the organization.
The production of the gun action is also wonderful, especially the department store in the middle of the story, the shooting battle at the enemy hideout, and the presence that Roy Cheung showed is a must-see! Although not directly related to this work, in 2006, the main casts such as Anthony Wong and Francis Ng, who starred in the film, reunited to produce “Exiled / Kizuna”.
A drama of intense and mysterious passions of women colored in bright red.
This movie recommendation is even greater if you have read Su Tong’s novel “Tsumari Seigun.” This book was made into a film by director Zhang Yimou, who has the nickname of “Color Wizard” in pursuit of the dazzling red color beauty. The story is set in China in the 1920s. The girl, Sun Len, who became the fourth wife of a millionaire, is drunk by a woman’s tricks and betrayal in a mansion dominated by her husband’s absolute power. The love of the master is likened to a red lantern, and not only does it show the value and significance of a woman in a feudal society, but the crimson and sound that covers the whole story drives fear.
This work, which can be called the Chinese version of “Ooku,” won the Silver Lion Award at the 44th Venice International Film Festival in 1987. The unclear face of the master and the love-hate drama with calculated visual beauty are no longer horror movies! Please note that the acting that the spirit of the starring Gong Li collapses is terrible, and there are also murder scenes.
A youth drama depicting young people suffering from a feeling of obstruction and anxiety
Set in Hong Kong, which is shaken by the return of China, the first of Fruit Chan’s “Return Trilogy”, which depicts the youth of young people living at the bottom of society and became a social phenomenon. Hong Kong is about to return to China in 1997. Chau, a young man who helps his brother in debt collection, and Ron, a young man, decide to meet a girl named Penn at the public corporation that went to collect them. The suicide note of a female student who jumped and committed suicide led to a strange bond between the three, and Chau fell in love with Penn.
The cast includes Sam Lee, who starred, Nakey Im, Wembers Lee, and Emmy Tan, who made their screen debut. The youth drama, which is different from the entertainment of Jackie Chan and the artistry of Wong Kar-wai, seems to have been surprised by the Hong Kong film industry. In Japan, it was released in 1999, and the 4K restore digitally remastered version was released in theaters in 2018.
What is new in the Asian cinematography
Did you like our HK movie recommendations? If the answer is yes, then you surely must watch some of the Japanese and Korean films as well. If you’re more adventurous you could even try some films made on the Chinese mainland.