10 Best Chinese Action Movies

Tuesday, November 30 by Travis Petersen

The ten best Chinese action movies are products of the Hong Kong cinema scene, which prided itself on turning B-movie material into high art through amazing visual style and drama. Filmmakers like John Woo, Ringo Lam, Ronny Yu and Tsui Hark changed the landscape of what could be considered the best Chinese action movies. the new wave of filmmakers brought the art of seventies Hollywood to action material. Here are the ten best Chinese action movies ever.

  1. "The Killer" – John Woo's most fully realized vision is the story of two men on opposite sides of the law, a hitman (Chow Yun-Fat) and a cop (Danny Lee) who bond to save a blinded girl from the mob and become the closest of friends. Like knights on opposite sides of the field of battle, they respect one another and end up, honorable fighting those with no honor. The action sequences, daring dances of gunplay and stylish slow-mo, have been copied a million times but never matched.
  2. "The Bride With White Hair" – A romantic swordplay epic, this film from Ronny Yu is filled with gorgeous action sequences and surreal swordplay, along with a classic star-crossed love story. Its unique style, equally indebted to music videos and Chinese opera, makes it an easy choice for the list of ten best Chinese action movies.
  3. "City on Fire" – Ringo Lam's story of thieves and undercover cops was the basis for Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs." Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee reunite, this time on opposite sides of the law, but bonding once again, as Chow, the undercover cop, becomes loyal to the thieves he has infiltrated. It is a complicated film and definitely one of the ten best Chinese action movies.
  4. "Hard-Boiled" – John Woo's second film on the list also stars Chow Yun-Fat, this time as a "Hard-Boiled" detective. The plot and drama do not match that of "The Killer," but the action sequences, including a finale that runs more than a half an hour as assassins and cops battle it out in a hospital full of patients, may be even better.
  5. "Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain" – Tsui Hark, Hong Kong's Steven Spielberg, created this fantasy masterpiece. Its swordplay mythology and terrific battle sequences make it an easy choice for this list of the best Chinese action movies.
  6. "Time and Tide" – Tsui's second entry on the list is set in modern day but no less fantastical. Its stylish vision and forward-looking action sequences earn its spot on the list of the ten best Chinese action movies.
  7. "A Better Tomorrow" – No list of the ten best Chinese action movies should be without the film that made stars of its director, John Woo, and lead actor, Chow Yun-Fat. As the coolest hitman in the world, Chow became an instant icon.
  8. "Full Contact" – Chow Yun-Fat is the lead gangster in this film noir update. Ringo Lam's second film on the list is a classic story of bad people doing bad things, with stylish action scenes to boot.
  9. "Naked Killer" – Chingmy Yau is the sexy superkiller of the title. She and Simon Yam steam up the screen in this instant cult classic.
  10. "House of Flying Daggers" - Starring new face Zhang Ziyi, this art-house masterpiece is a direct descendent of the swordplay films of the past, with a beautiful color palette drawn from independent film. It is a gripping and tragic final entry for our list of the ten best Chinese action movies of all time.

Additional Resources:

Time and Tide on IMDB

A Better Tomorrow on IMDB

Full Contact on IMDB

Naked Killer on IMDB

House of Flying Daggers on IMDB