Top 10 list from Jin-x

Although I am greatly involved in the wonderful world of Asian cinema, I have always been pulled particularly to the Hong Kong Action films. Though many of these films contain poor story lines and bad dubbing or scripting, there are many out there that shine above the rest.  Here, in no particular order, are my top ten Hong Kong films:

1. Born Invincible:  Joseph Kuo's tour de force.  Once this kung fu film gets going, it never stops.  Carter Wong plays the maniacal laughing Chi Kung master who is impervious to any attack, and delivers a knock out performance.  Although many films have tried this concept (ie Ng Se Yuens' "Invincible Armor"), this is the only one that really pulls it off meticulously, although it highly lacks in plot (which is often a good thing in HK cinema, since plots can be too complex at times).  The choreography is fast and inventive, and the first fight between the kung fu sifu and the hai tai killers is my favorite HK fight ever.

2. Bullet in the Head: John Woo takes us to war torn Vietnam during the Vietnam war, and creates one of the greatest Hong Kong films to date. Very few HK films I have seen reach this level of emotional drama, almost to the point where you could care less about any of the top notch John Woo action sequences.  The ending is one of the few scenes in HK film that had me in tears.  Second to very few other films.

3. The Ape Girl:  One of Chen Chi Hwa's early films.  Very little is known about this film.  I originally came across it under the domestic title "Lady Iron Monkey," being sold in the "Brooklyn Zoo" kung fu collection.  Most people who would see this film would immediately dismiss it as weird and cheesy, but I love it like none other.  Kam Fung plays the Ape Girl, Ming Ling Shur, a half monkey/half human girl raised in the wild by apes, until she is discovered by an old kung fu master and his moronic students.  They raise her and teach her Monkey Kung fu, and when she comes of age she falls for the local prince, and the film takes off from there on a trail of comedy, drama, action, and betrayal. Kam Fung does an excellent job playing a half ape (and stands out in her unique costume, which includes a monkey tail), while we see and early appearance of Chen Sing as the prince, and Lo Lieh as an assassin.  Truly unique, and underrated, this film is a classic in my book. Does anyone else out there know anything about this film???

4. Future Cops: Wong Jing's comedy/parody of Street Fighter II.  Not a lot to say for plot, but its one of those HK films that you never can forget.  One scene after another of giant beer cans, huge lips, broom haircuts, edible fridges and tables, live action Super Mario Brothers, and Richard Ng as Blanka.   If you can find a copy, get it!! You won’t regret seeing this film, although therapy will be required afterward.

5. Singh the Yoga Master (aka Kungfu vs Yoga):  I found this gem in the "Shaolin Dolemite" collection, and wasn’t sure what to expect. Soon, I found a truly unique yet barely heard of kung fu film.  The title is deceiving though.  Only the last 15 minutes or so involve Singh, who plays the Indian oil dealer/yoga master, Dul Bashir.  In that 15 minutes is one of the greatest kung fu battles ever, as we witness Singh perform otherworldly double jointedness during the climatic kung fu battle (and none of it is fake, I couldn’t believe that Singh could do what he does with his body, it has to be seen to be believed, words cannot describe it).  Not only that, but you have many great battles, such as the main characters battling a blind snake fighter, a shaolin pottery monk, and a transvestite hooker.  Definitely not to be missed, especially for the last battle.

6. Kung Fu Cult Master (aka Lord of the Wutang):  I actually was practically given this from a friend who hated it, but I loved it.  Wong Jing once again unleashes a new hoard of kung fu characters with unique personalities (I love Nun No Mercy and King of Green Bat).  Top notch wirework and an interesting and complex plot set this above many other period films from the nineties.  Jet Li's best, in my opinion.

7. The 36th Chamber (aka Master Killer):  The Lau brothers' greatest piece as a team.  What this film lacks in action, it makes up in plot (which is highly uncommon for its time).  I highly believe what makes this film a classic is its training sequences, which occupy about 75% of the film.  And the plot is fairly straightforward, with many creative ideas for the training sequences, many of which were copied by others later.

8. Drunken Master:  Need I say a lot for this film.  Anyone who sees it will understand why it’s a classic.  With excellent choreography by Yuen Woo Ping, the basic revival of Simon Yuen Hsiao Tien's career as Sam Seed (or beggar So, in the original version), and many interesting characters for Jackie Chan to battle (I like Iron Head Rat, who’s played by the guy who played the pottery monk in Kung fu vs Yoga).  Chan's career is owed to this film, which launched him as a superstar. Although its sequel has better plot and writing, this film has a certain feel that the sequel does not.

9. Hard Boiled:  John Woo has ruined his career for abandoning the style that made this film an instant classic.  Not the strongest of his stories, it makes up for this in a series of action sequences unrivaled by any other heroic bloodshed film.  The 45-minute hospital shootout is a technical masterpiece; with every shot looking perfect and many shots setup to run non-stop through the shooting.  Not much else needs to be said, other than this is the cream of the crop in its genre.

10. Golden Killer (original title unknown):  I couldn’t finish this list without this film.  I like to think of it as the kung fu version of Scream.  We have a killer, wearing a mask and cloak, going out and killing people.  We get misleading clues throughout, and false accusations, leading up to the end, where we find the killers identity, which comes as a shock, and we find another person is also the killer alongside the first.  Truly strange are its similarities, and these are just some of them.  Also, this predates Scream by 20 years. Not to mention that it contains great choreography and the adorable Dorris Lung Jun Err.  Not much is known about this film either, but it really captures me and has that great HK feel to it.

Other films that are worthy of mention:  Once Upon a Time in China, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Killer, The 72 Desperate Rebels, The Mystery of Chess Boxing, 5 Element Ninjas (aka Chinese Super Ninjas), Drunken Master II (aka Legend of Drunken Master), Shaolin vs Lama, Last Hero of China, The Fatal Flying Guillotine, Iron Monkey, Mad Monkey Kungfu, Secret Rivals (aka Silver Fox Rivals), Shaolin & Wutang, A Better Tomorrow I-III, New Game of Death, just to name a few.....