14 Great Hong Kong Movies to Add to Your Netflix Watch List
Hong Kong which was once regarded as having the largest film and entertainment industry in Asia, dominated the regional market and regularly exported movies and television shows to the rest of the world. Known for producing renowned talents like Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung, Wong Kar-wai and many more, we take a look back at which Hong Kong films to watch while social distancing rules and regulations remain in full-swing.
1/14 Love In A Fallen City (1984)
Hong Kong New Wave director Ann Hui’s takes on the celebrated romance writer Eileen Chang’s magnum opus, Love in A Fallen City, a novella written in 1943. Set in the Japanese invasion of China during the 1940s, the story revolves around the complicated affair between Bai Liu-Su (played by Cora Miao), an introverted divorcée, as well as married Malayan businessman, Fan Liu-yuan (played by Chow Yun-Fat). Troubled by family disapproval, the two meander through a war-torn Hong Kong to seek what they consider as true love.
2/14 A Better Tomorrow (1986)
A Better Tomorrow (1986) solidified John Woo’s career as a bona fide Hong Kong director. Starring Hong Kong acting legends like Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat, the plot centres around the relationship and conflict between two brothers from opposite sides of the track; one a police officer and the other a triad member. To this day, the film is credited to have set the template for the Heroic Bloodshed genre and is considered one of the most influential Hong Kong action films.
3/14 Chungking Express (1994)
A Wong Kar-Wai classic, Chungking Express (1994) features iconic Hong Kong icons including Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung and Brigette Lin. Separated into two parts, the two love stories tells the tales of a police officer who encounters a mysterious drug smuggler and another heart-broken police officer who catches the attention of a quirky food worker. Strap in for some California dreamin’.
See also: Wong Kar-Wai Backs $33 Million Revival Plan For The Hong Kong Film Industry
4/14 Made in Hong Kong (1997)
This indie Hong Kong drama directed and written by Fruit Chan won Best Picture in 1998 at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Made in Hong Kong (1997) follows the story of a high school dropout who becomes entangled in the criminal underworld as he tries to pay for the medical expenses of his sick girlfriend. Grab some tissues as this heart-breaking tale will touch you, warm your heart, and leave you in tears.
5/14 Infernal Affairs (2002)
Hong Kong crime thriller film Infernal Affairs (2002) starring award-winning actors Andy Lau and Tony Leung is the essential espionage movie. The story of a police officer who goes undercover as a triad member and a triad member who infiltrates the Hong Kong police, is a cat and mouse game that will have you sitting at the edge of your seat. The Hong Kong film was so successful that it was later remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed in 2006 and won the famed director an Academy Award for Best Picture.
See also: The Most Iconic Hong Kong Actors And Actresses—And All The Classic Local Movies You Should Know About
6/14 2046 (2004)
Another classic melancholy work by Wong Kar-wai, 2046 is a sci-fi sequel to Days of Being Wild (1990) and In The Mood for Love (2000). It was initially criticised for its weak narratives, but has aged like fine wine, which continues captivating audiences with its unique aesthetics and striking political allegory. The film follows the story of the lovesick writer Chow Mo-wan (played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai), who has numerous relationships with different women at a hotel after losing Su Li-zhen (played by Maggie Cheung)—the women he considers as true love.
The emotional movie shines in this ability to mirror human tendency to magnify and linger memories over time, which has won Wong the Best Art Direction and Best Original Film Score awards at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan 2004.
7/14 Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Written, directed and starred in by Hong Kong local comedy legend Stephen Chow, Kung Fu Hustle (2004) is described by global critics as Kung Fu meets Quentin Tarantino meets Looney Tunes. The film focuses on the journey of a petty crook who becomes a Kung Fu master. Filled with special effects and slapstick humour, strap in for a comedic action-packed classic Hong Kong movie.
See also: Leading Man: Hong Kong Martial-Arts Star Donnie Yen Reflects On His Career And Talks About Leaving A Legacy
8/14 A Simple Life (2011)
Another of Ann Hui’s film looks at contemporary Hong Kong, where Andy Lau, an overseas returnee, takes care of ageing long-time family helper Sister Peach, portrayed by local singer and actress Deanie Ip. While the film is set at the backdrop of contemporary Hong Kong clouded with problems of neglecting elderlies, it also delves into a heartwarming connection across generations. Ip won the Best Actress Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.
9/14 Still Human (2018)
Oliver Siu Kuen Chan in her feature film directorial debut explores a fresh Filipino maid’s work experience in Hong Kong. Evelyn (played by Crisel Consunji) gives up her dream to become a professional photographer to earn a living by leaving home and working for a curmudgeonly Leung Cheong-wing (played by veteran actor Anthony Wong) who is paralysed from an accident at work. The film, which represents the city’s racial, cross-generational and family issues in a compassionate way, reaped multiple awards, including Best New Director at the 13th Asian Film Awards, Best New Director and Best Actor at the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards.
10/14 Project Gutenberg (2018)
If you’re a fan of action movies with amazing plot twists, make sure to give this a watch. Featuring a star-studded cast, Project Gutenberg (2018) follows a counterfeit artist Lee Man (played by Aaron Kwok), who was invited by the “Painter” (played by Chow Yun-fat) to join his counterfeit banknotes operation. With Felix Chong being the screenwriter for the movie, who has been the creative mind for popular crime thrillers such as the Infernal Affairs and Overheard series, this movie is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
11/14 Tracey (2018)
The first of its kind in Hong Kong, Jun Li’s directional debut is a transgender drama which follows Travis, a middle-aged husband and father, whose desire of feminization is rekindled by the passing away of a close friend. As “he” transforms mentally and physically to become “Tracey”, he struggles between tearing his family apart and keeping his world together. Philip Keung, who played the titular role, accepted the role after much hesitation, for despite his worry over playing an unfamiliar character, he believed that there’s much to tell about transgender people who were underrepresented in the city. Keung even went so far as to wear see-through clothes to observe pedestrians’ reactions in the filming process.
12/14 The Way We Are (2018)
Tin Shui Wai in the New Territories is the backdrop in Ann Hui’s heartwarming tale. An area that often dubbed as the “city of sadness” where filled with tragic stories of tragedy and crime, Hui chooses to give audiences a heartfelt, charming portrayal of Hong Kong people instead. There’s no sudden burst of violence, no confrontations or plot twists—it’s just a simple tale of a hardworking widow (played by Paw Hee-ching) who raises her teenage son (played by Leung Chun-lung) in Tin Shui Wai, striving to maintain her livelihood and dealing with challenges of everyday life.
The movie was named the Best Film in the 15th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, which also earned Hui the Best Director awards in both Hong Kong Film Awards 2009 and Chinese Film Media Awards 2009.
13/14 Suk Suk (2019)
Rare among the genre of gender-themed drama, Yeung’s film explores a homosexual couple in their twilight years. A 70 year-old taxi driver and a 65-year-old retired single father meet at a park one day. These new friends are proud of the families they have raised, but their chance encounter triggers their long-time repressed desire, and they contemplate the possibility of a new romantic beginning despite being at the final stage of their lives. The film features local veterans Tai-Bo and Ben Yuen, who were both nominated at the Golden Horse Awards for their performance in this film.
14/14 Beyond The Dream (2020)
Directed and produced by Kiwi Chow Kwun-wai, Beyond The Dream (2020) is a meandering tale of a recovering schizophrenic Lee Chi-lok (played by Lau Chun-him) who yearns for love. He encounters a kind and beautiful woman, Yan-yan (played by Choi Si-wan) on the street one day and he quickly falls in love with her. Soon he realised Yan-yan was only an imagined person exists in his mind, but six months later, he meets another woman (a psychological counsellor) who looks exactly the same as Yan-yan, and then develops a turbulent relationship with her.
The duo gives viewers an incredibly moving performance on psychological complexity, which makes it a truly compelling piece to watch. This movie might not be available online yet, but it certainly deserves a spot on your upcoming binge list.
See also: 10 Feel-Good Movies To Watch On Netflix