1. Kung Fu Hustle - $61,000,000 (going into
2. Fantasia - $25,000,000
3. Magic Kitchen - $25,000,000
4. New Police Story - $21,000,000
5. Elixir of Love - $15,000,000
6. Yesterday Once More - $15,000,000
7. Twins Effect II - $14,000,000
8. Three of a Kind - $14,000,000
9. Super Model - $13,000,000
10. Jiang Hu - $13,000,000
11. Driving Miss Wealthy - $12,000,000
12. Love on the Rocks - $11,000,000
13. Enter the Phoenix - $10,000,000
14. Leaving Me Loving You - $10,000,000
15. Hidden Heroes - $9,000,000
16. Protégé de la Rose Noire - $9,000,000
17. Eyes 2 - $9,000,000
18. Itchy Heart - $8,000,000
19. Throwdown - $8,000,000
20. Breaking News - $8,000,000
21. One Nite in Mongkok - $7,000,000
22. Koma - $7,000,000
23. The Miracle Box - $6,000,000
24. 2046 - $6,000,000
25. Six Strong Guys - $6,000,000
26. Dumplings - $5,000,000
27. Sex and the Beauties - $5,000,000
28. 20:30:40 - $5,000,000
Figures from Asianboxoffice.com
1. Kung Fu Hustle
I have to admit that I almost dreaded the prospect
of watching this because I had read such mixed reactions to it that ranged
from magnificent to disappointing. The criticisms leveled though were ones
that I expected would resonate with me as well - too reliant on CGI, paper
thin plot, not enough Chow and most condemning - not very funny. I had
a gut feeling that I would find it to be all noise and no substance. I
couldn't have been more wrong - this is brilliant - the best movie from
2004 - it’s as if Chow took the history of HK cinema and crystallized it
through the prism of modern sensibilities and modern technology. Chow seamessly
mixes the communal feel of “House of 72 Tenants”, the fast paced kung fu
of the 1970’s, the gonzo wuxia of the 1960’s and Cantonese sentimental
melodrama in epic style on an incredible canvas of perpetual motion, sweeping
camera work and inventive giddy special effects. On top of this, he layers
Western influences as well - “Guys and Dolls” and Looney Tunes to mention
a few. It makes for a joyous cinematic experience - as if seeing all these
influences through fresh eyes and a clean heart.
All the time I was watching it I was thinking that this is the film that Scorsese wished he could have made. Ninety-minutes of pure adrenaline that never stays still for a second – always on the move, always skipping from one genre to another like a drug addict looking for a fix. Chow breaks out of his genre trappings with a scream for artistic freedom - this isn't comedy, this isn't action - this is just great filmmaking that incorporates everything that he has been trying to do for 15 years into something astonishingly cinematic and entertaining.
Wong Kar-wai burrows once again into the dreamy
lush world of "In the Mood for Love" and "Days of Being Wild" with a heavy
heart and a truck load of romantic cynicism. Told like fragments of long
ago memories slipping through his consciousness, by the end it creates
such a sense of sadness, desperation and longing that you wonder why the
characters continue to get up in the morning. The regrets of life are so
thick in the air they are like the smoke of cigaretes circling the characters
in a bad dream. Wong often weaves his stories around memories and the pain
they inflict - nowhere more so than here as Tony Leung's character from
"In the Mood for Love" can't get over his love for Maggie Cheung and in
his attempt to forget her he embarks on a series of callous affairs with
women as emotionally wounded as he is.
Hong Kong has always been on top of its game
when it comes to crime stories and this one matches up to their best. It
is a taut fast moving tale that juggles various balls that come crashing
together in a tragic resolution that is unflinchingly pessimistic about
Hong Kong and the human race. Daniel Wu is a newbie hitman imported from
the Mainland to make one quick kill and then go home flush with money in
his pockets. Cecilia Cheung is a Mainland prostitute who thinks she spots
an easy mark and becomes his guide for the night. Alex Fong is a cop and
he hears the hit is going down and gets his men scowering the streets to
stop it. Christmas is in the air. So is death.
Fruit Chan brings us face to face with our real fears in this dense atmospheric crawl through the ravaged psyche of a middle-aged woman. What in truth is scarier than getting old and no longer feeling valued in a society that worships the young and beautiful? Once a beguiling and popular actress, the character played by Miriam Yeung finds herself relegated to a role of being a waiting wife to her philandering husband (Tong Leung Ka-fai) and is expected to feel rewarded with shopping sprees and tea parties - when all she really wants is to feel desired again. The promised fountain of youth is in the form of Bai Ling and her fetus dumplings and this promise brings out the inner monster in all of us.
This is a small off-beat story from the director
of “Men Suddenly in Black” which might not generate a lot of sparks but
has a lot of quiet appeal. On the surface it might feel like the film was
simply about a woman getting some slight revenge on her ex-louse, but underneath
the film is a sweet ode to female friendship that makes male bonding seem
churlish and grotesque by comparison. Gillian Chung in her most mature
work yet is a little nerdy girl who gets her heart crushed by a smarmy
Daniel Wu, but beneath the glasses and the shy tentative smile is a will
of steel and she has a plan in mind. She takes Daniel's new girlfriend
into her confidence and the two of them set out to teach him a lesson in
civility. Their friendship has more chemistry than any other couple this
year in Hong Kong film.
It may be easy to rank on Jackie Chan these
days, but with his back strained against the wall of age and fan indifference,
he churns out his best action film in a decade and shows that there are
still few if any peers in the world of physical action when he gets serious.
Jackie leaves his typical clowning behind him and is able to shake the
sins of generic Hollywood out of his system to deliver a gritty crime drama
filled with action set pieces that should have had his fans cheering rather
then criticizing. In the film he plays a cop looking for redemption and
to some degree the same could be said about Jackie. They both find it.
This tense little gem came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with what a good film it was. It begins like a bland romance but quickly takes a tight fast-paced turn into edgy suspense that lays love bare like a raw wound. Eason Chan is in the wrong place at the wrong time and is taken hostage by a traveling group of Mainland robbers and his girlfriend Niki Chow tracks them down as if it’s her life on the line. This film has more to say about the power, pain and sacrifice that love engenders than a dozen glossy romances.
In an era in which special effects, style and MTV sensibilities often dominate the film scene, director Sylvia Chang still cares most about her characters - about building them from inside out and allowing them to breath and form before us. In this film she gives us three female characters - all at different stages of their lives as signified by the title - and builds a small story around each of them. Her characters tend to be everyday people who are scratching, clawing and crying in their attempts to get through the everyday thing that we call life. With a terrific cast of Angelica Lee, Rene Liu and herself, Chang paints a tender picture of women going though the changes that life brings and some of the continuous heartache and rebirth that accompanies it.
The viewing world has probably seen more films
about people who can see ghosts than they want to, but the Pang’s follow
up (in title only) to their smash hit “The Eye” seems more intent on creating
a claustrophobic psychological drama than hitting us with a quota of scares.
It has a few of them but the film hands them out slowly like well-earned
chocolates. It is a near solo performance from Hsu Chi giving some of her
best work ever as she totally dominates the proceedings and her crumbling
mental state is more than believable. She is in the middle of an unhappy
affair with a married man and when he indicates that he wants to end it
she goes suicidal – but after a failed attempt she instead is able to see
ghosts. This doesn’t help her mental condition much as she begins to learn
that pain isn’t only something that the living carries around with them.
If you haven’t seen the Hui Brother’s films
from the 1970’s this film will likely confound you with it's insane happenings,
but as a fan of their work I found this tribute to them a giddy delight
at times. In truth I barely recall what the plot was about but the many
riffs off of their films still bounce around in my head. Played by Lau
Ching-wan (Michael), Louis Koo (Sam) and Jordan Chan (Rickey), the mannerisms
and looks are spot on and their affection for these characters is palpable.
Francis Ng doing his best Sek Kin is also amazing – is there anything this
guy can’t do? The best scene in the film is Lau cheating at mahjong by
stuffing tiles in his mouth – he deserved a nomination for this scene alone.
If only he had followed this New Year’s film with some worthy work during
the year. It's all silly silly fun with cameos by The Twins and a Plain
Jane impersonantion from Cecilia Cheung. See "Private Eyes" first and then
watch this one.