Beginner’s guide to Chinese

China. What more can I say? It’s massive, mysterious, exciting, scary, exotic, and powerful. These are also words that can be used to describe it’s movies. Known for its kung-fu classics but that doesn’t do the place justice. I’ve compiled a guide to Chinese films for people who aren’t familiar with them. The list isn’t necessarily the best the country has to offer, it’s more a selection of movies to start off with. I’ve tried to cover a few different genres and all of the films are quite recent so see it as a taster or dim sum if you want to get in the mood. OK let’s (spring) roll!

5. House of Flying Daggers (2004)


A sumptuous romance and ass-kicking epic from Zhang Yimou. It’s one of the most beautiful to look at films you’ll ever see. It stars Ziyi Zhang, Andy Lau, and Takeshi Kaneshiro and revolves around a love triangle between a blind girl and two lawmen who are after her. Yeah it’s quite a melodramatic story but the action sequences, including a gravity defying fight in a bamboo forest, are a treat for your eyes. Its colourful and affecting and is a great introduction to the Chinese historical epic.

Sure beats paintballing

4. The Killer (1989)


A John Woo classic. It has all of the elements that mark a Woo movie. Jumping while shooting, falling while shooting, doves, and Chow Yun Fat, er, shooting. The story couldn’t be simpler, a hitman messes up a job and accidentally blinds a girl (what is it with Chinese films and blind women?). He then takes on more jobs to pay for her sight restoring surgery. Throw in a crusading cop and a triad gang and you have one of the highest body counts in cinema history. Look out for an epic gunfight in a church.

Oops, silly Google image search

3. Shaolin Soccer (2001)


The only comedy on the list, and it’s a great one. Stephen Chow directs and Stars as a wannabe kung-fu hero who has to form a football team (yeah America, it’s called football!) to beat the magnificently named Team Evil. Like Chow’s later film ‘Kung-fu Hustle‘ this is like a living cartoon and is totally hilarious. If you enjoyed ‘Dodgeball’ then you’ll absolutely love this.

Luis Suarez has already signed for them for next season

2. Infernal Affairs (2002)


Have you watched ‘The Departed‘? It was great wasn’t it? Well it was a remake of the Hong Kong set Infernal Affairs and in my opinion the Chinese original is better. It stars Tony Leung and Andy Lau as a cop and a criminal undercover in each other’s organisation. It’s a tighter, faster and more focused movie than The Departed and has a cooler ending. The film doesn’t talk down the audience and the two leads are fantastic. There are also two critically acclaimed sequels to it.

1. Ip Man (2008)


Or 1p man according to my dad (yeah he’s not the smartest man alive). Starring Donnie Yen as Ip Man, the man who taught Bruce Lee kung-fu! It’s a historical epic about the Japanese invasion of China and sees Ip Man kicking the won ton out of loads of Japanese soldiers. Ip Man is a total bad-ass who is a total gentleman and Yen plays him perfectly. Plus the bad guy looks like a Japanese version of that chap who used to be choreographer on X Factor. Sorry lost my train of thought there.


Told you!!!

Your mission is to watch all of these movies and come back and thank me for introducing you to them. And anyone who would like to suggest some more then let me know in the comments.


  1. A fine list again. I loved House of Flying Daggers, it is magnificent, though if I had to choose, I’d choose “Hero” over it. If you have not seen it, for sure check it out. One of the best movies ever made in my opinion, aesthetic perfection.
    And as for Infernal Affairs – I really like when people recognize that it was the one before The Departed and truly much better one. It is awful how many movies Hollywood ripped off from Asian cinema and don’t really try to give credit that much.
    Ip man was great, I am planning to do a review on it some time. And I will check out The Killer,, it’s the only one I haven’t seen form the list.


    • Thanks buddy, that means a lot. I really need to watch Hero again, I haven’t seen it properly. If you like John Woo you’ll like The Killer. It hasn’t aged well but I still prefer it over Hard Boiled. Thanks again for commenting 🙂


Leave a Reply, go on, don't make me come over there

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s