If you’re into foreign films, then you’ve probably stumbled upon a plethora of Chinese movies that are essential for calling yourself a movie buff. But if you’re not into foreign films then you’ve probably never have heard of any of the movies that are on this list. When you saw ‘Chinese Movies’ in the title, you likely probably thought, Jackie Chan, Kung Fu, and subtitles. As stereotypical as it is, most of the movies on this list are memorable for those things. But instead of ignorantly typecasting these movies as “foreign blubbering, sword chucking, Jackie Chan flicks”, think of these movies as films with their own heart, story, and characters. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and will even consider some of these flicks better than some of the crap Hollywood produces today.
Jet Li stars as a nameless swordsman who goes to a King to tell him how he murdered the people who were capable of taking his kingdom. During this talk, a story of murder, love, passion, and betrayal unfolds and not everything is what it seems. With beautiful sequences and top notch storytelling, this is one of the top recommendations of this list.
Another Jet Li flick with him as Huo Yuanjia, a historic marshal artist that symbolically represented China’s stand against it’s exploitative colonization from other nations. Much grittier than other films on this list, it’s none-the-less has significantly emotional satisfaction as it’s a combination of the story of how a man embodied a nation and his journey to get there.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
There’s something beautiful about this movie. It’s a quintessential Chinese film that embodies both romance and action. Words can hardly express the genius and beauty of this movie, so I recommend you pick it up ASAP if you haven’t seen it already.
New Police Story
Apparently there are multiple ‘Police Stories’ that have Jackie Chan has starred it, but unfortunately this is the only one I’ve seen. New Police Story is the story of Jackie Chan as an alcoholic police officer who’s in deep regret after the death of his girlfriend’s brother after a botched police raid, orchestrated by a team of ruthless teenage daredevils. When he’s given the chance to redeem himself, he teams up with a rookie cop to take down the same gang that destroyed him metaphorically all those years ago. Regardless, if the originals are as good and engaging as this one, I would highly consider checking those out, as I will as soon as I get the chance.
Robin B Hood
Another Jackie Chan flick, but this one has some heart. I’m not personally educated in all of Jackie Chan’s Chinese movies, but I’ve been given the chance to watch this one as well. Let me first say that his Chinese movies are WAY different than his American movies. In Rush Hour/Medallion/etc. he plays the typecast oriental who is really educated in Kung Fu. This is unfortunate typecasting at its best, but when he’s in his element back in China, he can be anyone he wants to be. So when he plays a thief who ends up in charge of a baby, there are no racial Chinese jokes, but the heartfelt and sincere story of how a hardened criminal adjusts to bearing the responsibility of a child. Oh and there’s Jackie doing Kung Fu. Typecasting at its best.
Kung Fu Hustle
Believe it or not, there are a couple of Chinese comedies worthy of an American audience. One being director/actor’s Stephen Chow’s resume of work. More than often he combines heart, comedy, and kung fu in his movies that are strongly appealing to American audiences. Kung Fu Hustle is one of his movies that stars himself as a down-on-his-luck petty thief that stumbles on an escalating battle between a gang lord and some back-alley kung fu masters. It’s cheesy, absurd, but downright hilarious. A high recommendation for comedy lovers.
Before Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow made a movie about a man who was trying to apply Kung Fu to other disciplines rather than fighting. What he produced was an absurd story of a bunch of brothers who were masters in Kung Fu that tried to put together a soccer team. The results are equally hilarious and absurd as Kung Fu Hustle, but it still provides an unforgettable romp.