10 best Hong Kong films since the 1997 handover.
1. In The Mood For Love (2000)
Words cannot describe the sublime beauty of Wong Kar Wai’s 1960s-set romance – even if the auteur borrowed more than a few ideas from Liu Yichang’s novella Intersection. Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung Man Yuk as a pair of betrayed spouses who find comfort in each other but hesitate to go further, the visually sumptuous and emotionally devastating film is widely regarded as one of the greatest, from any country, of the 21st century – and deservedly so.
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The first wuxia film to earn both critical and commercial acclaim on a global scale, Ang Lee’s multiple-Oscar winner conquered the West with its graceful display of gravitydefying heroics, while winning hearts back home with its star-crossed lovers bound by Chinese tradition. Chow Yun-fat was smart not to return for the sequel – this is a singular achievement that couldn’t be matched.
3. Election 2 (2009)
While 2005’s Election impressed with its candid look at the realities of Hong Kong triad societies, few expected Johnnie To to follow it up with the greatest Hong Kong gangster film ever made. The sadistic violence doesn’t overshadow the political messages that To succinctly weaves into this power drama – as cynical about democratic elections as it is China’s increasing control over Hong Kong.
4. Infernal Affairs (2002)
The undercover police thriller that revitalised a genre and spawned an Oscar-winning remake (Martin Scorsese’s The Departed), Andrew Lau Wai Keung and Alan Mak Siu Fai’s magnum opus takes its star-studded cast – led by Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu Wai – on a meticulously crafted chase after destiny and rapidly fading identities.
5. Made In Hong Kong (1997)
By far the most acclaimed independent film Hong Kong cinema has produced, Fruit Chan Gor’s pessimistic tale of disillusioned teenagers transcends its limited resources to serve up a perfect blend of style and substance. Here’s a rare political fable which manages to be at once comical and thoroughly enthralling.
6. The Warlords (2007)
Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro go through every shade of loyalty in director Peter Chan Ho-sun’s engrossing remake of a Shaw Brothers classic, The Blood Brothers (1973). A gritty period war epic, it is memorable for showing consciences at work in the harshest of circumstances.
7. A Simple Life (2011)
The simplest story Ann Hui has told in her decorated career is also one of her best. Based on producer Roger Lee Yan Lam’s own experiences, this slice-of-life drama about a middle-aged bachelor (Andy Lau) and his ageing servant (Venice Film Festival winner Deanie Ip Tak Han) is understated yet immensely touching.
8. Ten Years (2015)
A brave and intelligent political critique which – with the help of ample, if ill-advised publicity in Chinese state media – galvanised audiences already dreading the loss of their local identity and way of life. Were its fearful scenarios pure fantasy? The hugely popular film went missing from cinemas at a time when every screening was still sold out.
9. Ordinary Heroes (1999)
A rare look back at the history of social activism in 1980s Hong Kong, Ann Hui On Wah’s multi-stranded drama is extraordinarily ambitious in scope. Not only does it pay homage to the forgotten heroes who contributed to the city’s progress, but it does so through a thematically complex story of trauma and resilience.
10. Trivisa (2016)
A gloomy political fable masterfully disguised as a portrait of three larger-than-life felons from the city’s pre-handover past, this astonishingly assured crime drama by new directors Frank Hui Hok Man, Jevons Au Man-kit and Vicky Wong Wai Kit is all the proof you need that the film industry’s future is in good hands. – South China Morning Post
Trivisa is helmed by three new auteurs. — GSC Movies