Top ten films by Hong Kong directors to watch while in self-isolation
10. The Killer (1989), directed by Hark Tsui
Hong Kong has produced its own repertoire of gangster films, but few combine such moving and thrilling themes as The Killer. The film entails the journey of an assassin, who accidentally damages the eyes of the singer Jennie during a shootout. He discovers that if Jennie does not undergo an expensive operation she will go blind, and to get the money for Jennie, decides to perform one last hit.
9. Still Human (2018), directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan
Starring claimed actors Anthony Wong and Crisel Consunji, Still Human is Siu Kuen Chan’s directors debut, creating a touching cinematic story of the relationship between a Filipino domestic worker and the paralysed man she takes care. Taking home three awards at the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards, the film shines through its examination of human relationships and real social issues in Hong Kong. The film was the first in Hong Kong to have a migrant worker as a leading character, and subsequently sparked discussions about their lives in the city, often scrutinised by human rights groups for their poor living conditions and poor wages.
8. Fist of Fury (1972), directed by Lo Wei
It would be impossible to look at Hong Kong cinema without recognising the presence and impact of its phenomenal martial arts films. An important part of the film scene in Hong Kong, Fist of Fury is recognised as one of the 70s most profound and influential Kung-Fu movies, starring the legendary Bruce Lee as the lead protagonist Chen Zhen, on his quest to avenge the death of his martial arts teacher.
7. A Simple Life (2011), directed by Ann Hui
While Hong Kong cinema is a scene that is dominated by male directors, that is not to say that there aren’t remarkable female directors who have contributed some of its best and most influential films. Ann Hui is one of the best examples of this, as one of the most celebrated directors in the country. A Simple Life stands as one of her most legendary features, based on Hui’s own experiences, following a film producer called Roger and his relationship with his family retainer Ah Tao after she has a stroke. Estranged from most of his family, a maternal relationship emerges between the two, all while balancing a subtle balance between drama and comedy.
The film also won Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.
6. The Wild, Wild Rose, directed by Wong Tin-lam
The 1960s The Wild, Wild Rose directed by Wong Tin-lam who was born in Shanghai but spent much of his life residing in Hong Kong, is perhaps one of the most significant musicals within the history of Hong Kong cinema. It’s script and plot derived from the classic opera Carmen, the film tells the story of a club singer who seduces a piano player and then falls fatally in love with him. Through his masterwork, Tin-lam has undoubtedly become an incredibly important figure within the Hong Kong film scene and his works are adored nationwide – The Wild, Wild Rose is no exception.
5. Comrades: Almost a Love Story, directed by Peter Chan
Peter Chan’s 1996 romance, Comrades: Almost a Love Story, tells the tale of two Chinese-mainlanders who after living in Hong Kong form a close relationship, which as the title implies turns into love – but not without obstacles. Starring Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai this love story is one to watch.
4. Homecoming (1984), directed by Yim Ho
Awarded best film at the 4th Hong Kong Film Awards in 1985, at which Yim Ho also won best director, Homecoming, follows the life of a young woman played by actress Josephine Koo. After living in Hong Kong for ten years, the young woman returns to visit the small mainland-Chinese village in which she was raised. Through this journey the films heroine is forced to contrast her life in Hong Kong with the simple family life she once lived back in China. A great coming of age film in Hong Kong cinema.
3. A Better Tomorrow(1986), directed by John Woo
A reformed gangster attempts to reconcile with his estranged brother, who also happens to be a policeman. Although the two brothers take different paths, family ties stand strong, but links to crime also prove difficult to break. Establishing a template for the heroic bloodshed genre, A Better Tomorrow was a profound influence on the Hong Kong film scene as well as internationally. The film is also frequently referenced as one of the greatest gangster films of all time, bringing national attention to Hong Kong cinema.
2.The Love Eterne (1963), directed by Li Han Hsiang
An adaptation of the classic Chinese story ‘Butterfly Lovers’, The Love Eterne is the musical film of the Huangmei opera that stands as one of the defining Hong Kong films of the 1960s. Masterfully blending the musicality of folklore with the mania of modern existence, Hsiang brought new life to the musical genre with this groundbreaking film.
1. In the Mood for Love (2000), directed by Wong Kar-wai
A classic tale of forbidden love respun for a contemporary audience, In The Mood for Love ranks number one on our list. Frequently referenced as one of greatest films of world cinema, the film caught the attention of critics internationally for Kar-wai’s profound and moving tale of an affair in an exiled Shanghainese community in 60s’ era British Hong Kong.
Shot entirely on film, the movie is also praised as an aesthetic masterpiece, with Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung’s performances also gaining mass recognition for capturing the perfect balance of lust and love and fear and shame for the two leading character’s complicated romance.