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Top 10 Chinese Love Films

21 February 2012 | Chinese Films, Film Lists, Lists | by David Zou

Love is an universal subject but it does differ from West to Orient.Western love is more open while Oriental love is always quite restrained.There are some exceptions as Oriental love films like In the Realm of the Senses goes extremely crazy and Western love films like Remains of the Day and The Age of Innocence hold emotions in a restrained manner,but in most of the cases,the theory stands true.I have already talked about Turn Left,Turn Right and Chungking Express in previous My Top 10 All-Time Favorite Love Films list,so I’m gonna introduce another 10 fantastic Chinese love films to you guys today,hope you would enjoy it as well.


#10 Suzhou River dir. Ye Lou

Suzhou River
The river Suzhou that flows through Shanghai is a reservoir of filth, chaos and poverty, but also a meeting place for memories and secrets. Lou Ye, who spent his youth on the banks of the Suzhou, shows the river as a Chinese Styx, in which forgotten stories and mysteries come together. Watching it would remind you of Hitchcock’s Vertigo and some Wong karwai films.

#9 Rouge dir. Stanley Kwan

rouge stanley kwan

This ghost fable won 5 Hong Kong Film Awards in 1989  including Best Picture,Best Director,Best Actress (Anita Mui),and remains to be the finest film of Legendary Singer-Actress Anita Mui.

#8 A Chinese Odyssey dir. Jeffery Lau

a chinese odyssey

Fantasy adventure about the arrival of Buddhism in China. It is so popilar in China during 1990s that almost every Chinese  young people knows the classic lines in it.It also marks the one of the finest film of Chinese great comedy actor  Stephen Chow.

#7 A Chinese Ghost Story dir. Siu-tung Ching

a chinese ghost story 

One of the most successful commercial film in Chinese cinema history,the special effects in it was not less spectacular than Hollywood production in those days.However,it is the utterly sad story between ghost and human that captures the audiences’ hearts.

#6 Farewell My Concubine dir. Kaige Chen

farewell my concubine
This Cannes-winning film is definitely much more than a love film,but the love story both on stage and off stage are equally tragic and astonishing.

#5 Lust,Caution dir. Ang Lee

lust caution
This is a great example of adapting an very ordinary short novel into a first-class film,and it shows Ang lee’s artistry of portraying the subtle relationship between woman and man.It is one of the rare films that sexual scenes are so violent yet so important in Chinese cinema history.

#4 Comrades: Almost a Love Story dir. Peter Chan

lust caution
One of the best films about love in destiny.The song which shares the same Chinese name as the film is the most famous song by Teresa Teng,one of the most popular female singer during 1980s and 1990s.

#3 In the Mood for Love dir. Wong Karwai

You can not resist Wong Karwai’s love films,can you? This gorgeously shot love affair film has its own Oriental quality in every aspect,those ever changing cheongsams on Maggie Chueng are the most impressive Chinese element ever presented to Western Audiences.

#2 The Love Eterne dir. Han Hsiang Li

the love eterne
You have to be surprised about this symmetrical resemblance between Oriental and Western culture,this film is the Oriental version of “Romeo and Juliet”.The only difference is it is not a famous play but a legendary story passed down generation by generation in China.

#1 Spring in a Small Town dir. Mu Fei

spring in a small town
This is the ultimate definition of Oriental love film.Today it is considered one of the classics of Chinese film, with the Hong Kong Film Awards Association naming it the greatest Chinese film ever made in 2005.


So any discoveries here? Which one do you expect to see? What I have missed? Let me know in the comments.


Other lists in my Love Film List Marathon you might be interested

My Top 10 All-Time Favorite Love Films

My Top 10 Favorite Romance Films

Top 10 Love-Obsession Movies





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  • I’ve had the Lust, Caution DVD for ages. I really need to watch that.

  • Gustavo Herculiani Razera via Facebook

    Farewell My Concubine… Yellow Earth… Red Sorghum… To Live.

  • Another great list. The only ones I haven’t seen are #10 and #5 but I wholeheartedly agree with the other 8, especially SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN (which to me is like the original version of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE). Some personal favorite “Chinese love films” that you didn’t include are THE GREATEST WEDDING ON EARTH (Wong Tin-Lam), SUN, MOON AND STAR (Yi Wen), AN AUTUMN’S TALE (Mabel Cheung), NEEDING YOU (Johnnie To) and LOST IN TIME (Derek Yee).

    • wow!! You surprised me,Michael.I know you have seen so many films,but you are the only foreigner I know who has seen this many Chinese films.From reading your posts on greatest films in decades,it looks like you have some special feelings towards Asian films especially Chinese films.

      • I love movies from ALL countries! But yeah, I love Chinese movies. I love the Hong Kong films of the ’50s through the ’70s, especially. The golden age of Shaw Bros. and Cathay/MP&GI is, to me, directly analogous to the studio system era in Hollywood (the classic period of the ’30s through the ’50s), except that Run Run Shaw wielded MORE power than any of his Hollywood studio boss counterparts!

        • I’m curious how you managed to get the access to those Shaw Bro. films,did you rent them from local store,watch online,or maybe see them on tv?

          • About ten years ago I bought a multi-region DVD player and blind-bought a lot of them. I also rented a lot through a now defunct company called “Nicheflix” that specialized in renting non-region 1 DVDs by mail. Now I have a multi-region blu-ray player . . .

  • Happy Together.

  • Kevin Anthony Kinney via Facebook

    Lust, Caution belongs in the Collection.

  • Ryan Nichols via Facebook

    Lust Caution is the only one I’ve seen here, and it’s a must.

  • With the exception of Lust, Caution and In the Mood for Love. I have not seen any of these films though I really do want to see Farewell My Concubine.

    Whenever I think of In the Mood for Love, I just think of “Yumeji’s Theme” playing as Maggie Cheung walks around in that tight dress in slow motion. Such a beautiful image.

    • Oh,yes,that is a fabulous scene,and you don’t get bored by those repetitions at all !! Farewell My Concubine is the peak of The Fifth Generation Directors’ works,it is a must-see.

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