Action films

10 Best Hong Kong Action Movies, Ranked

While Hong Kong action cinema is not a genre in itself, it is a means of production, a sensibility and an execution that signifies a national movement. Action movie can mean a lot of things – especially in the world of CGI-focused MCU shows – but generally sees violence as a primary mode of communication.


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Whether it focuses on triads, expats, or those with nowhere to go, Hong Kong action cinema is an inherently political body of films that use violence to dissect the notion of national identity. But perhaps above all else, the HK action movie world is packed with the world’s greatest action stunts, never rivaled by any other global market, and for that alone deserves praise.

10/10 Long Arm Of The Law is one of the first HK action classics

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Directed by Johnny Mak, 1984 long arm of the law is one of Hong Kong’s first action classics with an angry heart. The film follows a group of men from mainland China who cross the border into Hong Kong, in order to pull off a heist that will change their lives forever. Things go from bad – one of the men didn’t even cross the border – to much, much worse.

After the heist goes awry, a cop is killed and the hunt for men leads to an incredible climactic action sequence that takes place inside the walled city of Kowloon. Given the film’s ending, it’s only natural to wonder how three sequels came to be.

9/10 The police story propelled Jackie Chan to mega-fame

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Really, the first three films of the Police Story franchise are remarkable, but this is the first film that is a total game-changer for the HK action movie scene. The 1985 classic stars Jackie Chan (who also co-wrote the screenplay). It follows Chan as Kevin, a Hong Kong police detective. The film also features Brigitte Lin (Chung King Express) and Maggie Cheung (Irma Vep, In the Mood for Love).

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Kevin is charged with murder and must work to clear his name. The movie, while telling a fairly simple story, features some amazing action scenes and jaw-dropping stunts, making everyone wonder how Jackie Chan is still alive.

8/10 Yes, Madame is a movie with phenomenal fight sequences

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Yes Madam! is a 1985 Hong Kong action film directed by Corey Yuen, starring Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once, among many, many more) and Cynthia Rothrock (Above the Law, aka Righting Wrongs).

The film tells the story of two agents who, despite vastly different methodologies, must team up to secure microfilms that have fallen into the hands of thieves named after over-the-counter drugs. Filmmaker Tsui Hark appears in the film, playing a Looney Tune-like thief who consistently manages to evade capture.

7/10 Time and Tide is elliptical action storytelling at its best

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Few directing careers are as explosive and varied as that of Tsui Hark, whose early films Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind, is a nihilistic portrait of seeded youth. For his 2000 film, Time and tideall of the anarchic energy of the early days is once again on full display, but this time in a chaotic and complex plot involving an indebted bodyguard and a mysterious international arms dealer.

The film jumps from style to style with reckless abandon, leaving heads spinning and blood pumping. There’s one particularly amazing sequence that involves scaling the sides of a building and hiding on the ceilings.

6/10 Election and Election 2 are essential crime epics

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Johnnie To’s perfect distillation of the “heroic bloodshed” genre, A hero never dies (1998), is probably the closest John Woo has to his cinematic family. But it’s To’s own Election and Election 2 (2005 and 2006, respectively) which elevate what could be a simple action-oriented spectacle into something much richer in character, jerky bursts of violence and in-depth insight into organized crime.

The Election films are, for the most part, The Godfather rooms 1 and 2 for Hong Kong action cinema, with the same operatic mantra of family first.

5/10 Eastern Condors is the wackiest man-on-a-mission movie

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The peak of man-on-a-mission cinema could be the years 1967 The Dirty Dozen, featuring Lee Marvin and a host of stars on a suicide mission in Nazi territory. However, Eastern condors might just have the best action in the subgenre, if not necessarily the most thrilling plot.

Directed by movie legend Sammo Hung (who also stars), the film tells the story of prisoners of war who stand a chance of freedom if they destroy a missile silo. The film features some of the craziest action, merging Hung’s more kung fu-focused styles with exploitative action. There’s even an absurdly gorgeous scene involving a leaf. Yes, a sheet.

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If John Woo takes the action movie to crescendos of violence with a sense of grace, then Ringo Lam has the vitriolic rage to say “take it or leave it.” full contact is a 1992 film starring Chow Yun-fat as a man whose best friend, played by the ever-great Anthony Wong, gets into deep debt with the wrong guys.

From there, Gou Fei (Yun-fat) is drawn into a heist with a bunch of reckless criminals with a bunch of flaws and quirks. Things, as expected, don’t work out, and Gou Fei must confront the criminal kingpin, Judge (Simon Yam). What the film lacks in lyrical beauty, it more than makes up for in metal-focused action.

3/10 Stephen Chow has always shown an aptitude for action cinema

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Although not traditionally classified as an action film, Stephen Chow’s 2001 film, shaolin football is worthy of all the praise it has received over the years. In earlier films like flirting scholar and kitchen godChow used various forays into different genres for comedic effect, knowing the beats of what he was ridiculing.

In his movie, king of comedyChow even centers the story on a character who plays an extra in a John Woo-type action movie, complete with all the prior wire stunts. shaolin football fully embraces these trends and shows a CGI spectacle of Dragon Ball Z-like proportions, while grounding the film in rich characterizations.

2/10 Headshot rip action genre

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John Woo is no stranger to the romance of male violence. Even when he criticizes his characters’ actions, there’s a sense of camaraderie and adherence to unspoken codes of conduct. All of that disappeared in his 1990 film, Bullet in the head.

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The film is set in 1967, when three friends from Hong Kong (Tony Leung, Jacky Cheung and Waise Lee) attempt to start a criminal enterprise in Saigon, Vietnam. They land in a POW camp with American soldiers, and things go from bad to worse. The film eviscerates the romantic glory of the “heroic bloodshed” movement in 136 minutes.

1/10 Hard Boiled is the greatest action movie of all time

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With Last hurrah for chivalry, A better tomorrow I & II, The killerand Bullet in the head to his credit, few would blame John Woo if he decided to retire and enjoy an unbeatable legacy. However, he outdid himself with the 1992 masterpiece, hard boiled. The film tells the story of Hong Kong police inspector Tequila (Chow Yun-fat), who plays the saxophone and wields firearms.

As usual, the story tells a story of brotherhood and mutual respect along the fuzzy gray area of ​​morality. Chow Yun-fat delivers what is perhaps his best performance, and the wireframe action set pieces are full of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. There’s even a scene where Tequila is holding a baby and still finding a way to be an all-time action hero.

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