From today I will embark upon my 2012 roundup series that will include all the terrific films I have watched in the calender year of 2012. Hopefully these roundup lists would be useful for you as good recommendations.
Let’s begin with the best Chinese movies I saw this year. After watching 20-plus Chinese movies within in the year, I have developed an ambivalent feeling towards Chinese cinema: a mixture of pride and disappointment. I am proud because there are numerous directorial masterpieces in mainland China, Taiwan and Hongkong, which could surely create a sensation if restored and distributed. I’m disappointed because the current Chinese cinema is trapped in a stagnant stage and will never return to its Golden Era.
Anyway, you should get yourself a chance to watch the 10 Chinese movies below, if not, at least remember their names.
10. Blind Shaft dir. Li Yang
Adapted from a national-award-winning novel Shen Mu by Liu Qingbang, Blind Shaft is an uncompromising satire that can easily pierce your heart. Director Li Yang was banned by the Chinese government for this film and his career was almost ruined because of this. (Read my full reviews)
9. Mystery dir. Lou Ye
As one of my most anticipated movies this year, Lou Ye’s Mystery didn’t disappoint me. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in cinema, After watching, I discussed marriage and extra-marital relationship with my wife.Such profound and thought-provoking movie is a rarity in Chinese cinema now. (Read my full reviews)
8. Running Out of Time dir. Johnny To
As a very entertaining flick from top-notch Hong Kong crime genre filmmaker Johnnie To and his Milky Way Image. Running Out of Time is the most accessible Chinese-language film I can think of, and if you are a crime genre lover, I believe you will love it as I do. (Read my full reviews)
7. A Simple Life dir. Ann Hui
As a Chinese, I seldom expect any upcoming Chinese films in theater since they always disappoint me, but this HK made film was an exception. The leading actress won Best Actress Award in the 68th Venice International Film Festival, and this film was a bigger winner in 2011 Golden Horse Film Festival, winning 3 major awards including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. (Read my full reviews)
6. Goodbye, Dragon Inn dir. Tsai Ming-liang
The title suggests Tsai’s affection for this old film and its era. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, the film was played repeatedly in a big theater but attracted very few audiences, which seems sarcastic considering the movie’s tremendous influence during the 1960’s. (Read my full reviews)
5. The World dir. Jia Zhangke
Jia’s fourth feature film laments the gap between dreams and reality, globalization prosperity and individual dilemma in current Chinese society. All the fake scenery in Beijing World Park has been exaggerated only to testify that the Chinese economic boom in recent years is just beautiful on the surface.
4. The Terrorizers dir. Edward Yang
Yang only shot seven feature films and a short during his career. Because of distribution problem, his films are not easily accessible to Western audience. His most popular film in the West is his last work Yiyi, followed by his incredible epic A Brighter Summer Day, which is considered by many critics as his best film. However, the first film that won him world-wide acclaim is The Terrorizers. (Read my full reviews)
3. The Love Eterne dir. Li Han Hsiang
Ranked as No.1 in movieview(the No.1 movie magazine in China)’s 100 Years of Hongkong Cinema, The Love Eterne is legendary in terms of its achievements and importance in Hongkong cinema history. If you’d like to see something quintessential Chinese, this one should be your first choice. (Read my full reviews)
2. Three Times dir. Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Three Times is an absolute beauty. The two theme songs “Smoke in your eyes”and “Rain and tears” are equally impressive by adding a different flavor to Hou’s first nostalgic story in the film. The second part is sensational in terms of its silence film form and visually- exuberant performance. The third part on modern love is a weaker one as compared with the previous two. Nevertheless, if the audiences really understand history and can perceive that all three love stories are metaphors of the relationship between Taiwan and Mainland, they will be astounded by the movie’s greatness.
1. Dragon Gate Inn dir. King Hu
An instant favorite Chinese film. King Hu shot the wuxia genre film like no others before him. Chinese history, art, landscape, philosophy perfectly blend in this highly-entertaining box-office-hit martial art film. As one of the most influential film in Chinese cinema history, it had huge impact on many famous following Chinese wuxia films like Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning Crouch Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Raymond Lee’s commercially successful New Dragon Gate Inn and Zhang Yimou’s gorgeous looking House of Flying Daggers.
It’s Your Turn
Which Chinese movies above you’d like to give a try?
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