Hong Kong cinema has long had a cult following that has captivated international audiences. Kung fu-style action films are one of the most beloved exports, but there are also emotionally enthralling tales set in the city that have cemented themselves in pop culture. Hong Kong films certainly have a distinct style to them that stems from its history and shifting identity. If you’re looking for a slice of HK cinema, here are 8 iconic films to get you started.
In The Mood For Love
Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood For Love tops ever top Hong Kong cinema list for a reason! This emotional drama is not only gripping but is visually stunning paired with a hypnotic soundtrack. It follows two neighbours living in a typically crowded complex. They begin to role play as their cheating partners as a way to ease their pain.
Ip Man stars Hong Kong’s own Donnie Yen, who is now known for his work in Star Wars. This biographical film follows the Wing Chun master who would go on to teach Bruce Lee. Whilst not entirely accurate to life, the story is touching, action-packed and full of drama. Another 3 movies were released after this one making it ideal for a binge-watching weekend.
A young Jackie Chan solidified his success with this film, already an established stuntman and having had starring roles in kung fu films, his signature slapstick style of martial arts really shines through in Drunken Master. The story follows a mischievous young man who is eventually sent to learn martial arts in order to gain some discipline.
The riveting performances of Andy Lau and Tony Leung will have you engrossed. Infernal Affairs is the tale of a policeman pretending to be a gang member and a gang member who is a police officer. A tense film with emotional complexity, the story becomes more tangled as it unfolds. Martin Scorsese remade the film in 2006 as The Departed, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture as well as Best Adapted Screenplay.
The World of Suzie Wong
While the stereotypes will make you cringe and the representation of Asian women is highly problematic, The World of Suzie Wong captures a now lost Hong Kong which is worth seeing —showcasing the city in the 1960’s you can catch glimpses of Tsim Sha Tsui, Sheung Wan, Central, Sai Ying Pun, Yau Ma Tei, Aberdeen and Telegraph Bay.
Ku Fu Hustle
Stephen Chow’s films are classics that are in their own league. As the director, writer, producer and lead actor in this film, his comedic storytelling and martial arts will have you belly laughing. It follows a community that goes up against a knife-wielding gang with a touch of superhuman abilities. It’s ludicrous, comical and has an unforgettable cast of characters that will endear you.
A story of love and loss, it’s another Wong Kar Wai chart-topper with unhinged characters. Chungking Express was named as such because of the director’s upbringing in TST, while ‘express’ is a nod to the food stand Midnight Express in LKF. The movie is shot all around Hong Kong and follows two lovesick men who have chance encounters
Made In Hong Kong
A drama made by Fruit Chan, this indie film was produced using a leftover film reel and a non-existent budget. It follows Moon, who lives in a typical Hong Kong housing estate. A series of unfortunate events unfold in his life, he eventually finds work with triads. It’s a raw film that mocks Hong Kong with brutal honesty.