Unlike previous years, this year’s Chinese New Year is going to be different. With MCO 2.0 already extended until 18 February 2021, that means we have to say goodbye to celebrating Chinese New Year as usual. And that also includes going to the movies. But of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can always subscribe to popular streaming platforms, say like Netflix and enjoy streaming these 15 Hong Kong movies during Chinese New Year with your family or your loved one.
Wu Cheng’en’s classic novel “Journey to the West” has been adapted into films for numerous times, going way back to the late 1920s. Among the most popular ones has to be “A Chinese Odyssey”, which was split into two parts under the subtitles of “Pandora’s Box” and “Cinderella”. Far from a faithful adaptation with director Jeff Lau and star Stephen Chow infusing his signature mo lei tau (nonsensical) comedy to hilarious effect, it even has time-travel elements with kung fu, supernatural fantasy and romance genres thrown in for good measure. And not to forget Stephen Chow’s memorable dual performances as the Joker and Monkey King.
This madcap comedy thriller from Johnnie To is far from his best work. But it sure has its moments of fun, notably the long-awaited reunion between Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng — their first since 2004’s “Yesterday Once More”. Their chemistry works like a charm while Johnnie To keep things busy with his hyperactive direction. There’s one memorable sequence worth mentioning here, which involves Andy and Sammi’s characters reconstructing a crime scene using various props.
Among the best Jackie Chan movies ever made, this 1930s-set action comedy sees Jackie taking notable inspirations from Frank Capra’s “Lady For A Day” and “Pocketful Of Miracles” and making them his own. Blessed with great production design, “Canton Godfather” a.k.a. “Miracles”/” Mr Canton And Lady Rose” features some of Jackie’s best fight scenes (the finale which takes place in the rope factory comes to mind).
4) Cold War
The award-winning “Cold War”, which marks the directorial debuts of Longman Leung and Sunny Luk, offers a fresh perspective that focuses on the internal conflicts between high-ranking police officers. The story may have its fair share of blemishes. But it’s hard to deny the star-studded cast giving their all, notably engaging performances from Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Ka-Fai.
Of all the three “Fight Back To School” movies that made it to the big screen back in the early 90s, the 1991 original remains unsurpassed. This classic comedy needs no introduction, particularly if you are a fan of Stephen Chow’s movies. His signature mo lei tau comedy is put into excellent use here, with Chow’s undercover role as a high-school student easily ranking as one of his best. So good that he even earned a Best Actor nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
Beyond its overstuffed plot and its equally over-the-top action sequences (particularly the finale), “Firestorm” benefits from Andy Lau’s engaging role as a no-nonsense senior police inspector. He even reportedly did most of his own stunts, which is actually an impressive feat albeit his then-52 years of age. Action sequences are top-notch, with most of the gunfights and car crashes all thrillingly staged with enough visceral impact.
Yet another Stephen Chow’s movie in the list available on Netflix, “From Beijing With Love” sees the top Hong Kong comedian gleefully spoofing the James Bond franchise like no other. His hilariously deadpan role as a secret agent assigned to retrieve a stolen cranium is spot-on. The movie has a few funny moments, notably the elaborate scene where he shows off his knife skills and gadgets to impress his partner played by Anita Yuen.
From the same directing duo who brought us “Cold War”, this ambitious action-thriller boasts a starry pan-Asian cast from Hong Kong (Nick Cheung, Jacky Cheung and Shawn Yue), Taiwan (Chang Chen) and South Korea (Ji Jin-Hee, Choi Si-Won). The movie may seem overstuffed but it still gets the job done, with top-notch action sequences and first-rate production values. Speaking of action, who would have thought the most impressive setpiece happens to be the brief but visceral fight scene between Nick Cheung and Janice Man?
Yes, more Stephen Chow and frankly, why not? Here in “Kung Fu Hustle”, it showcases both hilarious and poignant tributes to Shaw Brothers and all kung fu movies of the yesteryears. Stephen Chow may have been largely reduced to a secondary role. And yet, his presence from a nobody to a saviour is undeniable, with the final scene where he single-handedly takes down the entire gang. The movie also benefits from the cast all around, notably Yuen Qiu’s signature role as the disgruntled landlady. Legendary martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping of “Once Upon A Time In China” fame helps put together some of the most graceful action scenes ever put in the movie. And just like “Shaolin Soccer”, Stephen Chow clearly has a field day making full use of special effects to his advantage.
10) My Lucky Stars
There were a few “Lucky Stars” movies released throughout the 80s and 90s. But the second instalment has to be one of the funniest among them all. Kudos go to Sammo Hung and his usual gang (Eric Tsang, Richard Ng, Stanley Fung and Charlie Chin) for their excellent comic timings. But let’s not forget about the fight sequences, with Jackie Chan showing up in a small role. At one point, he even goes undercover disguising as Arale Norimaki mascot from the anime series “Dr Slump”.
11) Once A Thief
A John Woo’s lightweight action-comedy during the peak of his career? It may look like an odd move, given his past film catalogue at the time consisting of violent action movies seen in the likes of “A Better Tomorrow I & II”, “The Killer” and “Bullet In The Head”. But it turns out that seeing him letting loose once in a while happens to be a refreshing change of pace. The breezy pace, coupled with the memorable trio (Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung) and John Woo’s stylish direction manages to combine a satisfying mix of action and comedy.
12) Once Upon A Time In China I & II
Six “Once Upon A Time In China” movies throughout the 90s but no matter what, the first two movies remainsthe best in the franchise. Both director Tsui Hark and star Jet Li shot to stardom with the 1991 movie, with the latter’s engaging turn as Wong Fei Hung easily ranking among the best on-screen portrayals since Kwan Tak-Hing. The martial arts drama also benefits from great action sequences, notably the elaborate fight setpiece involving the ladders.
The second movie, which was released shortly a year after, happens to be a fan favourite. Frankly, it’s easy to see why with Tsui Hark’s sprawling direction successfully combining political intrigue, history as well as action and comedy to entertaining results. Jet Li once again shows undeniable charisma and agility, while his final showdown against Donnie Yen ranking among the best fight scenes in Hong Kong cinema.
13) Police Story Trilogy
Jackie Chan’s iconic role as the relentless Hong Kong police officer, Chan Ka-Kui remains among the highest points of his career. He certainly gave his all in the earlier “Police Story” movies, with the first three still ranked the best. The 1985 original was a groundbreaking success, showcasing Jackie at his craziest best (the opening car chase through the shanty village comes to mind). The subsequent sequels have their own action-packed moments, with the second movie’s fight scene in the playground and the third‘s final 30 minutes shot in Kuala Lumpur particularly worth mentioning here.
Jackie Chan goes to New York (actually shot in Vancouver as a stand-in) in “Rumble In The Bronx”, a modern throwback to 1980s Hong Kong action genre. As expected, the story takes a backseat with Jackie’s trademark action scenes being the major highlight here. And he definitely risked it all, beginning with the daring jump from one building to another minus a safety harness (!).
Mixing political intrigue, buddy-comedy, screwball humour and romance, “The Great Magician” features great pairing between Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Lau Ching-Wan. Both of them deliver excellent comic timings, with the former exuding his usual charisma. The magic acts, in the meantime, are dazzlingly performed with enough style.