10 Best Chinese Gangster Movies

Saturday, January 22 by TK Marks

If you've never been exposed to the 10 best Chinese gangster movies, you're missing out. For a country with strict anti-gun laws, there is no shortage of firepower to be found in these dark, atmospheric and action-packed romps through seedy crime syndicates.

  1. "Infernal Affairs" Andy Lau and Tony Leung star in this twisted gangster film about a police officer and a gang member who, unbeknownst to one another, infiltrate each other's organizations. Explosive action ensues as they work to figure out who's the cop and who's the mole.
  2. "Election" Johnny To's uncompromising documentary style makes this classic tale of intrigues surrounding a Chinese mafia enterprise's election one of the most distinct and best gangster movies out there. 
  3. "A Better Tomorrow" This tale of a police officer and his brother turns complicated when the cop uncovers his brother's felonious lifestyle. Gun-riddled acrobatics and showdowns ensue.
  4. "Hard Boiled" Cool as a cucumber Chow Yun-Fat stars in this ode to guns as a tough police inspector set on taking down a dastardly gangster. The gun battles are simply spectacular and the best in Chinese cinema.
  5. "The Killer" An assassin double-crossed by his boss on his final job teams up with the cop who was hunting him in order to take down the entire mob ring. 
  6. "Mob Sister" An outlier in a male-heavy genre, Karena Lam stars as a young woman vying to control her local mafia. Normally, Chinese gangster movies are light on meaty female roles, making this film particularly distinctive.
  7. "Young & Dangerous" A classic Chinese gangster movie and one that inspired a gaggle of sequels, "Young & Dangerous" follows the rise of young mafia members as they work up the underworld ranks to become mob bosses. In China, this film inspired a slew of sequels, some better than others, but the original is still a worth while gangster film.
  8. "Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone" A mob boss finds himself marked by an assassin and must sift through the relationships around him to discover who wants to kill him. "Jiang Hu" is atypical for Chinese gangster movies for its relative dearth of violence in favor of character development.
  9. "Legend of the brothers" Two brothers leave mainland China for seedy Hong Kong gangster life where they rise to the top of the underworld. This Chinese gangster classic is unusual as it takes place partly on the mainland.
  10.  "The Incorruptible" This Chinese gangster movie features the battle of a painfully honest young detective and a powerful mafia boss amidst seedy characters and a sordid backdrop. This is a significant film to watch for anyone curious in the history of gangster movies in China.

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