Top 10 list from Jay Wassmer

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Okay, to be absolutely technical this is not a HK film. But, it features HK stars, HK choreography, and a Chinese setting, plus, it’s filmed in Chinese (Mandarin, not Cantonese). In most people’s minds this Taiwanese/ American/ Chinese production will forever be linked to HK cinema, which gives me reason enough to include it. CTHD is not only my favorite HK-related film it’s rapidly becoming my favorite film of all-time. The fights are great, but they’re not the reason I rate it as the best, the scenery and cinematography are incredible, but again that’s not the reason I rate it at the top. The reason I feel the way I do about this film is simple,  I love the characters and the story is one of those rare things, a genuine examination of the simplicity of emotion and the complexity of life’s challenges. This is truly a remarkable movie.

2. A Better Tomorrow II - John Woo enters the realm of myth making in this mid-80’s example of heroic-bloodshed. Everything about this film is over-the-top and more melodramatic than a month of soap operas. Chow Yun Fat becomes a living-legend as he takes his ultra-hip, super-cool persona to a new level of extreme. Sure, the story is a never-ending list of coincidences and sometimes obviously forced plot-twists, but the ride is more fun than one should be allowed to have without a prescription. 

3. Full Contact - Obviously I’m a big Chow Yun Fat fan, and the one who’s been called the coolest actor in the world has never been cooler than he was here. Ringo Lam’s lightning paced revenge yarn plays like a rock video gone hyper. The action is plentiful, the machismo level is set to 11, and the style overrides every cliché and shortcoming that the plot may offer.

4. The Brave Archer AKA Kung Fu Warlords - This one is an oldie, but definitely a goodie. Alexander Fu Sheng and director Chang Cheh make a great team and this one proves it. The story has more twists and turns than a maze of mirrors, but the larger than life characters and top-notch cast make this kung fu filled celluloid wonder a real treat.

5. Bullet In The Head - John Woo’s Vietnam War epic is one of those films that defies simple explanation. A film that is equal parts poetic tragedy and gut-wrenching violence, and much like Apocalypse Now or the Deer Hunter, it’s a film that dares to ask questions of it’s viewer that the filmmakers aren’t even able to answer them selves.

6. The Chinatown Kid - 70’s disco fashion sense and fists of fury abound in this classic picture from John Woo’s mentor Chang Cheh and the late great martial arts film star Alexander Fu Sheng. Rarely has a kung fu film been anything more than an excuse for a lot of cool fights (which rarely get more exciting than they are here). But, this time we get social messages and metaphorical imagery. Plus, did I mention the fights are cool?

7. The Fist Of Fury AKA The Chinese Connection - The movie that made a legend. For all its hokey aspects and silly plot devices, one thing will always be true; this is literally the film that sent Bruce Lee’s star right into orbit. It’s also Bruce’s most commanding and powerful performance in a screen career that was sadly much to short. The fight scenes capture the pure animal ferocity that made Bruce Lee the greatest martial artist of his time, and one of the greatest screen-fighters of all-time. If it wasn't for Lee's amazing presence this would have been nothing more than a simple kung fu revenge flick.

8. Once Upon A Time In China - Wong Fei Hong’s life has been brought to the screen more times than any other character in history. But, never before has the legendary hero of martial artistry and Confucian ideals, been given a more epic treatment than he was here. Director Tsui Hark lovingly fills every frame with lush cinematography and astoundingly elegant fight choreography. Although the young Jet Li may not have been the best choice for the part of Wong, the movie still remains a modern classic.

9. Iron Monkey - The Yuen Woo Ping directed prequel to the Once Upon A Time In China series is probably the most fun that any kung fu epic has ever been. Yuen’s attention to both detail and choreography coupled with a great story (sort of a cross between Outlaws Of The Marsh and Robin Hood) make for shear perfection of the genre. If there is any single HK film fan that has not seen this classic, than shame on you.

10. The Killer - Like classic poetry, or a literary epic, John Woo’s tribute to tragic heroism and the bonding aspects of friendships born under extreme situations, gets better with repeated viewings. Destined to go down in history as one of the finest films ever to come out of the international cinema scene, and truly one of the director’s most realized works. The Killer probably has done more to introduce international filmgoers to HK cinema than any other movie since the birth of the kung fu flick. It's also the film that introduced the American public to two of modern cinema's greatest artists; the aforementioned Mr. Woo, and the incredible Chow Yun Fat.