Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Favourite Hong Kong Movies. Steven, Chopsticks On Fire

The next list comes from Steven, blog master of Chopsticks On Fire, a hugely entertaining site you need to visit regularly. As well as his blog, Steven is always on facebook and contributes massively to the HK film community we all love to be a part of.

10: Goodbye Mr. Cool.

I first saw Goodbye Mr. Cool when it was shown years ago on the short lived channel CNX. Every night at 10pm they would show on Asian action movie from Hong Kong, Korea and Thailand. Goodbye Mr. Cool was one of them. It was a film I had zero expectations for and when I first watched it I was absolutely mesmerised by it. It was the first time I’d seen Ekin Cheng so was unaware of the following he had or the movies he’d been involved with and I have to say having seen many of his other films since then Goodbye Mr. Cool stands as one of his best ever performances. He creates such a heartfelt character that you immediately sympathise with him and for me it is highly recommended and deserves a place on my list.

09: Miracles.

For me Miracles is Jackie Chan’s most accomplished film as a director. While it may very well be just a remake of an existing film, Jackie does enough with the premise to make it his own thing. He has a genuinely well written and wonderfully put together script and assembles an absolutely stellar cast to help him out. While the action scenes aren’t the best he’s ever done he still manages to pull it all off with that trademark Jackie Chan flair. Also Richard Ng as the bumbling police chief is hysterically funny. It’s a small wonder that Jackie hasn’t directed anything with this kind of visual style since.

08: Gen X-Cops.

Gen X-Cops was one of the first Hong Kong movies I saw not to feature Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Chow Yun-Fat or Jackie Chan (In a starring role) and introduced me to the wonderful Sam Lee. It combines great action, nicely done comedy that translates well and has effective performances from it’s young cast. You should see it even if you’ve had reservations about it.

07: Runaway Blues.

Runaway Blues is a film I’d only learned of recently but after seeing it I can honestly say it’s definitely one of my favourites. While I’m sure Andy Lau made a number of movies that are in some ways better I can’t help but feel such a sense of excitement when I watch it. Andy is as good as he always is and there’s some truly crazy stunts happening with a really good, efficient script that does what it needs to do. Did I mention crazy stunts?

06: Millionaires Express.

Sammo Hung has done a lot of brilliant movies but if I had to pick one that shows cases his skills as a story teller, director, fight choreographer and actor for me it would be Millionaires Express. A lot of people tout Prodigal Son and for good reason, it’s an amazing piece of Kung Fu cinema but hands down my number one movie is this one. It has some really great comedic moments, a wonderfully put together cast, excellent set design and hard hitting fight scenes. Millionaires Express. Sammo never really topped this as a director.

05: Profile In Anger.

I know I’m not the only one who’ll have this on their list but I just needed this on there. The directorial debut of Leung Kar-Yan is a film that fails so spectacularly at being taken seriously that you can not help but love it for what it is. The story is very routine but what happens during is just so off the wall and unexpected. Pirate Bikers, Zombie Gangsters, A Naked Killer, A Battle Van. All these elements create one of the most memorable Hong Kong movies I’ve seen in recent times. There are moments of good direction though, such as the scene when Chan Wai-Man is stalking Pat Ha in the dark however the rest is just so bizarre it has to be to be believed.

04: Hong Kong Godfather.

Another film that I saw recently that has become one which I’ve watched many times. Directed by one of my favourite Hong Kong action stars Wang Lung-Wei, he creates a picture that almost collapses under the weight of it’s own ambition. He tries to craft a serious Triad film while also trying to stage big, violent, bloody action. He doesn’t quite pull off the perfect combination but we’re left with one of the most blood soaked finales ever in a Shaw Brothers film and that’s saying A LOT.

03: The Killer.

I’ve often talked about how Chow Yun-Fat has given some of his best acting performances when working with Ringo Lam so I find it delightfully ironic that The Killer is near the top of my list. It holds a special place because it was the first John Woo movie I watched. I had seen parts of Hard Boiled but never the whole thing before yet when I was given, that’s right given, the DVD of The Killer I loved it from it’s very first viewing. Chow Yun-Fat steals the show as the titular killer wanting to leave behind a life of violence and start fresh with a woman he inadvertently blinded during a hit. His relationship with the police detective out to capture him played by Danny Lee is one of the central themes and shows that Woo’s mentor Chang Cheh had a profound effect on him as a filmmaker. They don’t make them like this anymore!

02: Infernal Affairs.

I was fortunate enough to see Infernal Affairs during a very brief theatrical run in the UK. I was even luckier to obtain a large one sheet poster for free after asking the cinema if I could have it. I had heard of Infernal Affairs before hand and heard many great things so I was very excited. It turned out to not only live up to my already lofty expectations but surpass them. Andrew Lau directs with such tension that you really feel the pressure Tony Leung’s character is constantly under. Andy Lau shows his devious side and Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong exchange smiles while making sure neither of them are stabbed in the back. It’s since been remade and while I respect what Scorsese and co. did with it, I much prefer this.

01: Fist of Fury.

Yes, you may not have been expecting this. A plain ol’ Bruce Lee movie as my number one pick. Here’s why; Without Fist of Fury there would be no list, there would be no blog, there would be no daily conversations on Facebook with the many dear people I’ve grown to care about through our mutual love of Asian Cinema. To put simply Fist of Fury started it all. It was the film that got me hooked on Kung Fu movies and through that addiction I went onto other things and have been able to discover movies I’ve never seen, learn of actors and directors I never knew about. People often dismiss Fist of Fury as a mediocre at best basher with nothing going for it except Bruce in the leading role. I disagree, Fist of Fury is masterfully told with some very well thought out fight scenes and a magnetic performance from Bruce himself. Of all the films he managed to complete during his short yet legendary career, Fist of Fury is one I find myself coming back to again and again.


YTSL said...

To Stephen: You wrote re "Profile in Anger" that "I know I’m not the only one who’ll have this on their list but I just needed this on there."

Have to say that may well be the case for quite a number of films on your list but I'm getting the feeling after seeing the top 10 lists that have appeared thus far that the same will apply for a number of films on my list! :b

Also, if you don't mind me asking, how many Hong Kong movies have you seen thus far? And I'd be curious to see your answer to this question too, "A Hero Never Dies". :)

Steve said...

How many? honestly, I've never really tried counting. A lot is the best answer I can offer and I'm always see ones, new and old I've never seen before.

A hero never dies said...

Similarly to Steve, I don't keep count or records of what I watch, but I'd have to say into several hundreds, and am always hunting for ones I haven't seen as well as re-watching favourites.

YTSL said...

Funny to read that both Steve and "A hero never dies" haven't counted the Hong Kong movies they've seen. I guess I forgot that not everyone's as much of an anorak as me... ;b

(Re my count: it's currently at 1,207 from when I became a "born again" Hong Kong movie fan as an adult -- so not including the movies I saw as a kid.)

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