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.
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.
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.
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.
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.