5 Asian Gang Movies You Shouldn't Mess With
The filmmakers of the East have a special way of making gangster movies. They're often a bit more over-the-top, operatic, and stylish than the gangster movies we're familiar with here. If you'd like a taste of that Asian gangster magic, here are five of the best Asian gang movies. You don't even have to chop off a finger to enjoy them!
"A Colt Is My Passport"
Joe Shishido should be a familiar face to any fan of the Japanese yakuza picture. And we mean that about his face - he famously had plastic surgery to enhance his already-prominent cheeks, giving him something of a "chipmunk" look. This is one of the most exciting thrillers he ever starred in - Shishido plays an expert assassin who runs afoul of his gangster bosses and ends up having to battle their forces in a visually inventive shootout in a completely open field.
Another guy you should familiarize yourself with is the director Seijun Suzuki. His ultra-stylish and extra-crazy Japanese gangster movies have been an influence on everyone from John Woo to Quentin Tarantino. And this is one of his best movies, about a yakuza hitman forced to roam Japan in order to escape the wrath of his former bosses. Suzuki uses his trademark wild editing, hyper-stylized colors and composition, and borderline-incoherent action scenes to tell the story with a Pop Art sensibility that can't be beat.
"Time and Tide"
Not all Asian gang movies come from Japan - there's also a thriving action movie industry in Hong Kong that churns out lots of exciting gangster stories, like this movie from world-famous director Tsui Hark. The story is pretty confusing, having to do with drug dealers, cops, and a seemingly infinite amount of bullets, but the action scenes are as kinetic and exciting as you could hope for.
One of the most famous Hong Kong gangster movies of all time has Chow Yun-fat as (you guessed it) a hitman who runs afoul of the wrong people after he decides to retire from killing. Director John Woo brings his famously polished and balletic action scenes to the story, which hits the kind of operatic highs and lows that American audiences don't often see.
"City on Fire"
Most famous for serving as one of the most blatant inspirations for Quentin Tarantino's breakthrough film "Reservoir Dogs," "City on Fire" shows Chow Yun-fat again as a hitman who runs afou-- just kidding, he's a cop who infiltrates a brutal gang of jewel thieves only to find his true allegiances tested at every turn. The action is fast and bloody and "Reservoir Dogs" fans will have a lot of fun spotting the similarities between the two films.