10 Best Asian Gangster Movies

Sunday, December 5 by Travis Petersen

The 10 best Asian gangster movies are classics of the genre, much like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" are to American audiences. Hong Kong films about the Triads and Japanese Yakuza films make up our list of the best Asian gangster movies from stylized action melodramas to gritty, hard-hitting realistic masterpieces. Here are the ten best Asian gangster movies of all time.

  1. "The Killer" John Woo's most fully realized team with star Chow Yun-Fat is the story of a hitman who befriends a police detective and must turn against his gang loyalties. A story of honor and friendship, this movie is played out in majestic, slow-motion gun battles from the characters' very souls. It tops the list of the best Asian gangster movies.
  2. "Infernal Affairs" Martin Scorcese's "The Departed" was based on his Hong Kong film, the story of a gangster undercover with the police and a policeman undercover with the gangsters. It is intricate, fast-paced and superior to its American remake.
  3. "Battles Without Honour and Humanity" This seminal Yakuza film is a Japanese classic. It spawned four sequels and remains one of the best Asian gangster movies.
  4. "A Better Tomorrow" John Woo's first Triad film with Chow Yun-Fat is on a smaller scale than "The Killer," the story of a hitman betrayed. It is an iconic piece of Hong Kong cinema.
  5. "Young and Dangerous" This film spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs about its young cast of Triad gangsters and the girls who love them. They are the new generation of Asian gangster movies.
  6. "Ichi the Killer" Japanese horror-master Takeshi Miike's gangster film is tough, gritty and violent. It is also one of the best Asian gangster movies.
  7. "Prison on Fire" This story of gangs in a Chinese prison is a tough story of friendship and betrayal. Its setting and unique plot make it one of the best Asian gangster movies.
  8. "As Tears Go By" An artful love story as well as a gangster film, this is the debut of renowned filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai. It is beautiful, tragic and tough, a different take, but still one of the best Asian gangster movies.
  9. "The Big Heat" This ultraviolent gangster film from Johnny To is essential viewing. It is one of the most violent Asian gangster movies.
  10. "Election" A battle for the leadership of the Triad makes up this intense film. It caps off the list of the best Asian gangster movies.