Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Favourite Hong Kong Movies. Richard Trondsen

I'll let Richard introduce himself.

I was introduced to, and got hooked on, the wonderful and awesome world of Hong Kong Cinema thanks to three men; Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat and John Woo. It all began with the Bruce Lee movies, The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and The Way of the Dragon, followed quickly by The Killer and Hard Boiled. I then obtained a copy of Bey Logan's excellent book, Hong Kong Action Cinema, and read it from cover to cover within a few days. I then went out and bought as many of the action movies (mostly "heroic bloodshed") featured in the book as I could get my hands on. The action-comedies of Jackie Chan, the hilarious and wacky world of Stephen Chow, and the awesomeness of Donnie Yen quickly followed (mostly thanks to the UK-based DVD label, Hong Kong Legends). Now I watch (and love) a bit of everything. Other favorite Hong Kong actors and directors include Ringo Lam, Wong Kar-Wai, Maggie Cheung, Sammo Hung, Michelle Yeoh, Yukari Oshima, Moon Lee, Yuen Biao, Tsui Hark, Yuen Woo-Ping, Johnnie To, Ti Lung, Kara Hui, Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung, Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-Leung and many, many, many more.

Here are my 13 favorite Hong Kong movies. To avoid five of them being directed by John Woo, I decided to inlude only one movie per director. I also decided to do a separate Shaw Brothers list.

Hard Boiled (1992)

One of the very first Hong Kong movies I ever watched remains my absolute favorite. John Woo's Hard Boiled is still the most awesome (action) movie I have ever seen. Woo's The Killer may be the better movie, but I prefer Hard Boiled thanks to its bigger and better action sequences, that to this day have yet to be matched. John Woo is my favorite Hong Kong director of all time and Hard Boiled is definitely my favorite (Hong Kong) movie. I recently told a fellow fan that I could watch Hard Boiled twice a day for the rest of my life and still not get tired of it. The same is true for the next movie on my list.

Chungking Express (1994)

My introduction to Wong Kar-Wai was definitely 'love at first watch.' Chungking Express is just such a joy to sit through, no matter how many times I've seen it (which is quite a few by now!) Faye Wong plays the most adorable character in a movie ever. And I love the constant use of "California Dreamin'," as well as Faye Wong's take on "Dreams." Chungking Express is easily my favorite Wong Kar-Wai movie, although In the Mood for Love is probably as good.

Full Contact (1992)

City On Fire is probably Ringo Lam's finest hour, but Full Contact is my favorite. Like Hard Boiled, this is over the top action at its finest. Chow Yun-Fat is badass as always and Simon Yam plays one of the coolest villains ever. The awesome poster with Chow Yun-Fat on a motorcycle, with gun in hand and cigarette in mouth, is proudly displayed in my living room.

Police Story (1985)

As much as I love Project A and Drunken Master II, Police Story has always been my favorite Jackie Chan movie. The action set-pieces and stun-twork are out of this world. The finale at the shopping mall is still jaw-dropping, even after seeing it at least a dozen times. The comedy works well, too, and Maggie Cheung is as cute as ever.

All About Ah-Long (1989)

Okay, enough of the action movies, already! I may be an action junkie (when it comes to Hong Kong Cinema, anyway), but I do love a good melodrama, and Jonnnie To's All About Ah-Long is the finest one I've seen. Chow Yun-Fat is in absolute top form, giving what is arguably his best performance to date. Wong Kwan-Yuen is also terrific as Ah-Long's son, Porky. The tragic ending makes me cry buckets.

Shaolin Soccer (2001)

Stephen Chow quickly became one of my favorite actors and comedians a few years back when I went through most of his fimography and Shaolin Soccer stands out as my definite favorite. The comedy, drama, and special effects-laden action work brilliantly together, as does the entire cast. It also helps that I've always been a big fan of soccer (or football, as we call it over here).

In the Line of Duty 4 (1989)

I needed at least one Donnie Yen/Yuen Woo-Ping movie on my list and In the Line of Duty 4 is my favorite from both. It's also the very first Donnie Yen movie I saw and I fell in love with the man and his amazing kicking ability instantly. In the Line of Duty 4 is pretty much non-stop action, and the action is truly awesome.

Dragons Forever (1988)

Project A is my favorite "three brothers" movie, but since it's directed by Jackie Chan and I already listed Police Story, I'm going with my second favorite, Dragons Forever. Dragons Forever contains some of my favorite fight scenes in any movie, ever. Jackie's one-on-one fight with Benny "The Jet" Urquidez is, in my opinion, a career high. Both Sammo Hung and, especially, Yuen Biao get to do some amazing stuff, too. Dragons Forever is an amazing action-comedy.

Tiger on the Beat (1988)

Speaking of amazing action-comedy... Lau Kar-Leung's buddy-cop flick is another favorite of mine. It's also the fourth movie starring Chow Yun-Fat to appear on my list (what can I say? I love the guy!). The chemisty between Chow Yun-Fat and Conan Lee is great and the movie contains some truly spectacular action. Chow's shotgun trick is too awesome for words and Conan uses a chainsaw like a boss!

Fist of Fury (1972)

I probably wouldn't be the Hong Kong movie fan I am today without Bruce Lee and his (sadly, very few) movies, and Fist of Fury is without a doubt my favorite. There's no greater joy than watching the man (and the legend) wipe the floor with a dozen Japanese (not that I have anything against the Japanese..!). Bruce Lee is on fire in this movie! Fire, I tell you! Fist of Fury is a perfect title for a perfect movie.

The Way of the Dragon (1972)

Thanks to Bruce Lee deciding to direct himself, I managed to add another Bruce Lee movie to my list. The Way of the Dragon contains my favorite (one-on-one) fight scene ever; Bruce Lee versus Chuck Norris.. at the Colosseum! The rest of the movie is pretty damn good, too. Bruce Lee is my idol, my hero... and my God.

Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)

I felt that I needed to feature Tsui Hark in this list and Once Upon a Time in China II is probably my favorite (although I love Don't Play with Fire and Peking Opera Blues). This is also my favorite Jet Li movie and the fact that it features my man Donnie Yen (as a great villain) made it even easier to add. Once Upon a Time in China II is an essential masterpiece.

Story of Ricky (1992)

Last, but certainly not least, is Nam Nai-Choi's insanely over the top and truly awesome, Story of Ricky (AKA Riki-Oh). Easily one of the goriest movies to come out of Hong Kong and one that is not to be taken seriously. Ricky is one mean mother... Oh, and my favorite female ass-kicker, Yukari Oshima, makes a welcome apperance (as a guy!(?)). Bloody good stuff.

My 13 favorite Shaw Brothers productions (in no particlular order):

Hong Kong Godfather (1985)
King Boxer (1972)
The One-Armed Swordsman (1967)
The Five Venoms (1978)
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
My Young Auntie (1981)
Come Drink with Me (1966)
Heroes of the East (1979)
The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter (1983)
The Flying Guillotine (1975)
Danger Has Two Faces (1985)
Men from the Gutter (1983)
The Boxer's Omen (1983)


venoms5 said...

Good stuff Richard! I'm not a big fan of Lee's movies, but I plan to revisit them soon to see if I like them any better now than before.

Kingwho? said...

I agree with Venoms5 about the Lee movies. And another Chungking Express nod. Me likey =)

A hero never dies said...

Agree about Bruce Lee movies, not too keen myself not that I don't like Lee. Yes to the Express!

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