How many of these classic Chinese New Year movies have you seen?
“Eh eh everyone, faster come… Kung Fu Hustle is showing again!”
If you are a Malaysian and have a television at home, we guarantee you’ve seen reruns of these movies every Chinese New Year. And if you’re anything like us, you probably watch them over and over again too.
It’s just not Chinese New Year in Malaysia without these movies. It’s about young and old gathering around the television over peanuts and oranges, roaring in laughter as Jackie Chan makes a funny face. Yes, good times.
New Year is around the corner, so keep an eye out for these films and see if you manage to complete the list!
1. Once Upon A Time in China (all of them)
This is an iconic series of six films depicting the life and travels of Chinese folk legend Wong Fei Hung. First released in 1991, it stars Jet Li in the first three and sixth installments, replaced by Vincent Zhao in the fourth and fifth. With romance, comedy and serious bamboo/umbrella fights, it shows the embrace of modernism by the Chinese.
And who wanted long hair so they could do those incredible hair whips?
2. Kung Fu Hustle
Exceptionally funny, king of comedy Stephen Chow showcases some of his best acting in this martial arts comedy revolving around gangsters with incredible powers. We especially like Yuen Qiu, who plays a landlady with the talent of the lion’s roar.
3. Police Story
Considered by Jackie Chan to be his greatest action film of all time, this 1985 classic was written and directed by Chan himself. He plays Kevin Chan Ka-Kui, an undercover cop who gets tangled up in a series of events. This is a definite favourite of our parents’ generation!
4. Ip Man 1, 2 & 3
How many girls developed a crush on Donnie Yen after the first film came out? Ip Man first hit cinemas in 2008, becoming an instant hit. Its three installments have been globally praised for focus on the wing chun style of martial arts, great action scenes and impeccable acting by Yen and the supporting cast.
5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Released in 2000, this iconic film has influenced the advancement of Chinese-language films in the West. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 4 including Best Foreign Language Film. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was directed by Ang Lee and featured an international cast of Chinese actors, including Malaysia’s golden girl Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh.
6. Shaolin Soccer
If you love sports, martial arts and a good laugh, Shaolin Soccer will not fail you. This 2001 comedy co-written and directed by Stephen Chow follows the life of an ex-Shaolin monk who brings his five brothers together to do two things: play soccer, and introduce the art of Shaolin kung fu to the world.
You’ll definitely get a kick out of it!
7. Infernal Affairs
This Hong-Kong crime thriller is usually the men’s favourite, and sees household name Tony Leung as a police cadet going into deep undercover to take down a triad society. Things take a dramatic turn when we find out that another cop in the same cadet class is a mole for the very gang! Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang and Andy Lau also star in this film.
8. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Ah, this takes us back to our younger days. A lesson on legend and history, this 2014 loose adaptation of the 16th century novel shares the pilgrimage of Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang who travelled to the Western Regions to obtain sacred texts. Journey to the West is one of the Four Classical Books of Chinese Literature and has 100 chapters…yes, 100.
This fantasy film is a good introduction to the story, and of course having been co-written and produced by Stephen Chow, has a good dose of humour in it.
9. Drunken Master
This is a true classic. How many of us were born in 1978! Drunken Master is a laugh-till-you-cry martial arts comedy starring hot-bod Jackie Chan as a young Wong Fei Hung (yes, the same character portrayed later by Jet Li). Stuck and aimless, he becomes a pupil of a kung fu master known for his constant drunkenness.
The result is a very, very fluid style of martial arts that gets put to the test! A sequel, Drunken Master 2 released in 2004, was named one of the top 100 films of all time.
It’s really interesting how different films showcase unique parts of the Chinese culture. Hero (2002) is a wuxia film that tells of the historical assassination attempt of the King of Qin. With a power cast of Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi and Chen Daoming, you can be assured good entertainment.
Quentin Tarantino brought Hero to the screens after a 2-year delay (thank you, Mr. Tarantino!)
Have you seen all the films on this list? Let us know which ones are your favourite, and make sure to catch them again during Chinese New Year!
Your mandarin oranges will cost more this CNY, sadly
Featured Image Credit: Empire