21 Hong Kong Action Films Everyone Should See

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Hong Kong cinema has a rich tradition of producing some of cinematic history’s most iconic and influential action films. From breathtaking martial arts choreography to innovative storytelling, these movies have captivated audiences worldwide and left an enduring legacy in the world of action cinema. Due to the prolific output of many of these filmmakers, it can be a little daunting for the casual film fan to dive into the vast world of Hong Kong action cinema. Today, we’ll offer a few entry points into this cinematic landscape, going through 21 films to get the casual action fan started. 

1. Enter the Dragon (1973) 

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Starring the legendary Bruce Lee, this American-Hong Kong co-production follows Lee as a martial arts teacher who must fight his way to the narcotics gang that killed his sister. Though it’s nowhere near the best film on this list, its influence on the action genre is immeasurable. Essential viewing.

2. Police Story (1985) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

Directed by and starring the legendary Jackie Chan, this action-packed thriller follows Chan as the iconic Chan Ka-Kui, who must prove his innocence after being accused of murder while trying to arrest a drug lord. Police Story would set a new standard for action filmmaking and cemented Jackie Chan’s status as a martial arts icon.

3. Hard Boiled (1992) 

Photo Credit: Golden Princess Film Production Limited.

Continuing the pairing of director John Woo and star Chow Yun-Fat, this gritty crime drama is renowned for its intense shootouts and expertly choreographed action sequences. Many critics and fans consider it a classic of the “heroic bloodshed” genre.

4. The Killer (1989) 

Photo Credit: Film Workshop.

Another masterpiece from the team of John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat, this film follows a hitman who forms an unlikely bond with a nightclub singer. Its celebration of excessive violence has made it a staple of Hong Kong action cinema for nearly four decades. 

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5. A Better Tomorrow (1986) 

Photo Credit: Cinema City Film Productions.

The final film on this list is from John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat. The film follows the push-and-pull dynamics of a senior triad member and his brother, who’s just become a police officer. Often seen as the film that reignited the Hong Kong action genre, this is one action romp you won’t want to miss!

6. Infernal Affairs (2002) 

Photo Credit: Media Asia Films.

This gripping crime thriller, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, explores the complex relationship between an undercover cop and a mole in the police force. It inspired Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and would spawn a highly successful franchise. 

7. Once Upon a Time in China (1991) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

This martial arts epic, directed by Tsui Hark and starring Jet Li, follows the legendary folk hero Wong Fei-hung as he battles foreign invaders and corrupt officials. It is the perfect place to start if you want to explore the wuxia subgenre! 

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8. Fist of Fury (1972) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

Definitively the best Bruce Lee film, this film, directed by Lo Wei, tells the story of a martial artist who seeks revenge for the death of his master.

9. Drunken Master (1978) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

The film that broke Jackie Chan onto the scene, stunt choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping directs this action-comedy showcase for Chan’s unique blend of martial arts and physical comedy. Many film historians consider it one of the greatest kung fu films ever made.

10. The Grandmaster (2013)

Photo Credit: Block 2 Pictures.

A diversion from director Wong Kar-wai’s usual milieu, this visually stunning film chronicles the life of the legendary martial artist Ip Man. It is a visually opulent opera of fists and feelings. 

11. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) 

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Director Ang Lee’s return to Chinese cinema after a brief stint in Hollywood, this martial arts epic combines stunning visuals, captivating storytelling, and gravity-defying action sequences that reignited the wuxia subgenre. It won four Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film.

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12. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

Photo Credit: Star Overseas.

Directed by and starring Stephen Chow, this action-packed comedy follows a group of misfit soccer players who use martial arts to excel on the field. Though much of Chow’s humor is derived from regional wordplay, there’s still plenty of fun with Chow’s slapstick shenanigans! 

13. Iron Monkey (1993) 

Photo Credit: Film Workshop.

Directed by the iconic action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping, this martial arts extravaganza tells the story of a masked hero who fights against oppression in ancient China. Try to avoid the butchered American cut at all costs!

14. Project A (1983) 

Photo Credit: Authority Films.

Another Jackie Chan joint, this action-comedy follows a group of police officers battling pirates in 19th-century Hong Kong. Breathtaking and hilarious in equal measure, the film would get a sequel in 1987.

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15. The Legend of Drunken Master (1994) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

Also known as Drunken Master II, this sequel to Drunken Master features even more spectacular fight scenes and inventive choreography. Possibly Jackie Chan’s finest hour.

16. The Bride with White Hair (1993)

Photo Credit: Mandarin Films Distribution.

Before moving to Hollywood to direct films like Bride of Chucky and Freddie vs. Jason, Ronny Yu made this romantic fantasy film act as a wuxia tribute to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet 

17. Ip Man (2008) 

Photo Credit: Mandarin Films.

This biographical film, directed by Wilson Yip and starring Donnie Yen, tells the story of the legendary Wing Chun master who trained Bruce Lee.

18. Once Upon a Time in China II (1992) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

Directed by Hark Tsui and starring Jet Li, this sequel to the original film is equally epic in scale and features some of the most exhilarating martial arts action ever put on screen.

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19. God of Gamblers (1989) 

Photo Credit: Win’s Movie Productions Ltd.

Jing Wong and Chow Yun-Fat team up for this action-comedy that follows a talented gambler with supernatural abilities. Jing is an often-overlooked figure in the Hong Kong Golden Age, and his filmography is worth your time!

20. Police Story 3: Supercop (1992) 

Photo Credit: Golden Harvest Company.

Directed by future Mr. Magoo auteur Stanley Tong and starring Jackie Chan, this third installment in the Police Story franchise features some of Jackie Chan’s most daring stunts, including an infamous helicopter jump. You can’t go wrong with any film from the original Police Story trilogy!

21. Rumble in the Bronx (1995) 

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Another team up from Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan, this action-packed adventure follows a Hong Kong cop who travels to New York City to help his uncle’s grocery store. This is the film that would allow Jackie Chan to cross into the United States!

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21 Movies Everyone Should See At Least Once in Their Life

Photo Credit: Pandora Cinema.

More films are available to watch than anyone could see in a lifetime. With so many options to choose from, finding a suitable movie can be a daunting task. However, some of these films have transcended time and culture to leave a critical mark on the world of cinema.

To help viewers on their journey of film brilliance, we have cultivated a list of films we believe everyone should see once. From heart-wrenching dramas to irreverent comedies, this list provides some of the best entries the world of film has to offer.

21 Movies Everyone Should See At Least Once in Their Life

19 Films Where the Main Character Discovers They’re Not the Good Guy in the End

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Through legitimate or illegitimate means, the main character doesn’t always end the film as a good person. Sometimes it comes through a shocking twist, sometimes we’ve known all along that this main character is not somebody we actually like.

19 Films Where the Main Character Discovers They’re Not the Good Guy in the End

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