Friday, September 21, 2012

Favourite Hong Kong Movies. Jake, Podcast Without Honor And Humanity

Jake's Podcast Without Honor and Humanity is absolutely essential listening for fans of Hong Kong and Asian cinema. It must be really difficult to do a solo podcast, but Jake manages to do it so easily, you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise, with his laid back style perfectly suiting the diverse range of subjects he covers. It isn't all solo though, with regular guest spots helping to keep the show fresh. Jake's up to episode 75 at the time of writing, if you haven't tried it yet, download one now and show him your support, he deserves it!

I’ve always had an on-again, off-again relationship with Hong Kong film and when I return I wonder why I ever left in the first place. Quite frankly, there’s nothing like and there never will be.  In roughly sequential order:

Duel To The Death.

Screw the meme-ridden ninja nonsense, this movie’s crazier than a box full of cats and I love every second of it.

The Blade.

There’s not much to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said.  It represents everything I love about Tsui Hark.


This was my first true-blue introduction to Hong Kong black magic films.  I came across this film when I knew its sequel, Boxer’s Omen, only by reputation.  It melted my brain, brought me closer to my girlfriend who shared in the experience, and sent me on a path of maggot-filled enlightenment.

Infernal Affairs II.

If I were to be uncharitable to Infernal Affairs, I would say this is Infernal Affairs without the gimmick.  It has a soul, a simmering rage, and Francis Ng mean-mugging the hell out of everyone.

In the Mood For Love.

I’m usually not one to be taken in by brazenly arthouse fare, but between the set design, costume design, music, mood, direction, and Maggie Cheung…well, it just makes me weak at the knees.  It’s romantic in the truest sense of the word. Hypnotic, intoxicating, affecting, and obnoxiously annoying to anyone else not affected by it.

Rumble in the Bronx.

This is a purely sentimental pick since if I could objectively attempt to rank Jackie’s films, I doubt this movie would be in the top 10.  Regardless, long after watching Bruce Lee on tv as a young’un, Jackie reintroduced me to the world of martial arts.  This came out in theaters in my ripe, adolescent-fueled junior high school years.  I’ll always unconditionally love this movie whether it be the awful fashion, the cheesy dub, the slip-on sneakers, or that phantom Game Gear cartridge.

Fist of Legend.

Yuen Woo Ping, Jet Li, Billy Chow, Chin Siu Ho, and Yasuaki Kurata keeping it the realest.  I saw this movie shortly after The Matrix had arrived on dvd.  I then returned to the Matrix’s fight scenes and it was as if I discovered that this delicious bowl of chocolate pudding was actually chocolate-covered sand.  In my eyes, this is the pinnacle of martial arts choreography in cinema.


I love this movie with every fiber of my being. It has a relentless pace coupled with a cast and crew that represent the antithesis of lazy filmmaking. This is the movie that introduced me to Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima who have enchanted me ever since. It belongs to just a handful of movies that made me feel just like I felt when I watched Commando or Hard Boiled for the first time. To me, this is the spirit of Hong Kong filmmaking.

Hard Boiled.

This movie came at a seminal moment in my teenage years when I devoured horror, kung-fu, and action films at an unfathomable clip. This is one of those films that towered above them all.  John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat, and Tony Leung have all reached greater heights individually although this mixture of bravado violence and kinetic energy encompasses my favorite memories with them. You can have your A Better Tomorrow and your Bullet in the Head, I’ll be over here downing tequila slammers and making paper cranes.


I love Throwdown. I love Johnnie To. I love Louis Koo. I love Aaron Kwok’s leather jacket. I love Tony Leung Ka-Fai’s monolithic presence. I love Eddie Cheung’s exacto knife. I love judo. I love that red balloon. I love the three table musical chairs scene. I love the ending. I love that I went to TIFF and got to hear Johnnie To say this was his favorite film. I love Throwdown.

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