1) KUNG FU CULT
MASTER -- for some, the ultimate wire-fu fantasy
movie is SWORDSMAN II, but for me, it's this film, starring Jet Li and
Chingmy Yau, with fights choreographed by Sammo Hung, and Cheung Man in
two roles: as Jet's mother and the Queen of the Jinx Clan.
2) SUPER NINJAS -- 15 fight scenes in Chang Cheh's best-ever kung fu bonanza. The final fight sequence is a three-against-one battle royale with twin spears that is incredible to watch even today, and this film is from 1981!
3) AVENGING WARRIORS OF SHAOLIN -- for me, the single most enjoyable of all Chang Cheh's "Venoms" films, due to its wonderful characters and extremely memorable ensemble work.
4) THE VICTIM -- one of the most perfect of all kung fu films. Directed by Sammo Hung and starring Leung Kar Yan (aka Liang Cha-jen) with some help from Sammo. Riveting and involving from start to finish, despite what some consider to be overacting and forced comedy. I find this film infinitely more rewarding than the ordinarily higher- regarded PRODIGAL SON (directed by Sammo, with Yuen Biao, Lam Ching- ying, and Frankie Chan).
5) FIST OF LEGEND -- remake of Bruce Lee's FIST OF FURY with Jet Li in the lead is a masterpiece in every way. Why do I rank it only at number five on this list? It's too sober, and therefore not as escapist as most kung fu films. For example, there is almost no wirework.
6) IRON MONKEY -- Donnie Yen is the star, and Yuen Woo-ping directed. This comes very close to being a masterpiece, but is marred by a goofy fight over burning poles at the very end.
7) THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR -- beautiful sets, actors, and atmosphere.
8) CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND II -- a tender love story concerning a ghost, that is combined with Taoist magic, spirit possession, great kung fu, and an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink ending. Great, exhilarating cinema!
9) FONG SAI YUK -- love triangles, mistaken identities, high hilarity, and great kung fu from Jet Li and Josephine Siao Fong Fong. Too fun not to include on any list of HK movie faves.
10) ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA AND AMERICA -- a guilty pleasure that I imagine polarizes many a fan of HK cinema. Is it awful or is it sublime? I go with sublime. This film is a mix of all sorts of genres, and winds up being more fantasy than anything else, but taken as a mutant hybrid of the David Carradine KUNG FU TV show and LITTLE BIG MAN by way of the Wong Fei Hung legend, it's a very entertaining piece of energetic fluff. And Jet Li is simply adorable in American Indian-style pigtails in this!