10 Most Popular Chinese Movies

Saturday, January 1 by Tom Gordon

Choosing the 10 most popular Chinese movies is no easy task, since the cinema of China has been producing epic adventures and gritty thrillers and everything in between for a long time. Though Westerners tend to associate these films with martial arts, there are other genres and stories to be found among these 10 most popular Chinese movies. If you haven't seen some of these, they're worth watching. You may discover some filmmakers and performers you've never seen before.

  1. "Hero." Martial arts action star Jet Li stars in one of the coolest, most visually beautiful movies from China in recent years. It's told largely in flashback, but 2002's "Hero" is still an action-filled story of a man who defeats three assassins out to kill the Emperor.
  2. "The Road Home." This is another flashback-filled story, but of a much different type. 1999's "The Road Home" is a heartfelt drama of a man who returns to his old village for the burial of his father. His aging mother wants ancient traditions observed, including the carrying of the deceased back to his home (hence, "The Road Home). Along the way, the tale of the young couple is recounted with beauty and elegance.
  3. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." This may be the most famous movie to come out of China. The 2000 hit, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director (Ang Lee) and several other Oscars, four of which it won, tells the story of an epic search for a lost jade sword. Without a doubt, the look of the film set a standard that Chinese films and those from other countries have aspired to ever since.
  4. "Police Story." Jackie Chan considers this 1985 movie his best. If you only know Chan from his more recent comical roles, check out some of the insane stuff this guy used to do in his films. This remains one of the most popular Chinese movies because of Chan's wild stunts and the non-stop action throughout.
  5. "The Killer." This 1989 crime thriller stars Chow Yun-Fat as an assassin looking to use the payment for one last hit to help a victim from an earlier crime job. But since this was directed by John Woo, there are double crosses and various complications that wind up with guys squaring off with handguns in some amazingly choreographed fight scenes. Check it out.
  6. "Eat Drink Man Woman." Also directed by Ang Lee, this is a great date movie and one that will inspire you to cook (or at least eat), as it focuses on the family tale of a chef and his three daughters. It's funny and thought-provoking and it includes a lot of really appetizing food.
  7. "Hard Boiled." Chow Yun-Fat is a cop this time in another John Woo-directed movie that has him teaming up with an assassin (who may be an undercover cop) to take down a crime lord. The shootout in a maternity ward filled with babies is as tense a scene as you will ever see.
  8. "Way of the Dragon." No list of the 10 most popular Chinese movies would be complete without this 1972 classic written, directed and starring Bruce Lee, as a martial art champion out to help a friend against the mafia in Italy. Keep an eye out for a young Churck Norris, as a martial arts expert who tangles with Bruce Lee.
  9. "Enter the Dragon." This is the kung fu classic that made Bruce Lee a legend. If you see one old Chinese martial arts flick in your life, seek out "Enter the Dragon."
  10. "Summer Palace." Lots of sex and politics, this movie about students during the Tiananmen Square protests was banned in China and the filmmakers were similarly banned from making movies there for five years after its release.
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