Best of New Generation Chinese Cinema.
written by Souranath Banerjee
In a broader sense, Chinese Film Industry includes films made in the mainland China as well as the Cinema of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and they are primarily in two different dialects – Mandarin and Cantonese.
In the year 1905, the Peking opera-themed The Battle of Dingjunshan was the first Chinese film ever made.
Since then, over the years, in spite of several political interferences such as the Japanese invasion, periods of Communist Party propaganda and the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Film Industry has managed to flourish and create it’s own place globally.
Many Chinese films including Infernal Affairs (directed by Wai-Keung Lau and Alan Mak) and Eat Drink Man Woman (directed by Ang Lee) are successfully remade in the west as The Departed and Tortilla Soup respectively.
And today, China has evolved as one of the biggest movie market in the world!
So, let’s celebrate some of the finest films from the most talented New-Gen Chinese directors who beautifully portray the history of their nation and are also directly responsible for the recent global success of Chinese Cinema.
Let the show begin.
10. In the Heat of the Sun (1994)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeWN-SWLLbE
During Cultural Revolution in Beijing there was absolute freedom for the younger generation.
Directed by Wen Jiang, this is the brutal story of a young boy who along with his teenage friends grew up recklessly in the 60s, a turbulent time for China and her people.
The film successfully preserves the mood and feel of that era, the boy’s emotions, infatuations and bravery.
Other famous films by the same director Devils on the Doorstep (2000) and Let the Bullets Fly (2010)
9. A City of Sadness (1989)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caU7X7LV-5E
Directed by Hsiao-Hsien Hou, this one is probably the most underrated and yet one of the best historical films made in China.
The film depicts the traumatic history of Taiwan through the lives of four brothers who struggle to coup with the ever changing political scenario around them. Brilliant acting and superb storytelling.
Other famous films by the same director The Assassin (2015) and Three Times (2005)
8. Mountain Patrol (2004)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9hCEsOSQiA
The vast mountains of tibet, the home of the wild and elegant antelopes, the land of peace.
And when their land is threatened by hunters who illegally slaughtered the endangered Tibetan Antelopes, the local villagers form a team – The Tibetan Mountain Patrol to fight with the poachers.
Directed by Chuan Lu, this beautiful film is a must watch.
Other famous films by the same director City of Life and Death (2009).
7. Red Cliff (2008)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd0bqLQrtdE
China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.), the final days of the Han Dynasty and the time when the biggest battle in Chinese History was fought – the battle of Red Cliff.
Directed by John Woo, this is the first part of that epic battle, the second one being Red Cliff II (2009).
Best historical war film from China.
Other famous films by the same director The Killer (1989) and Hard Boiled (1992).
6. Lust, Caution (2007)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0o3yNnbCR4
A dangerous and cautious plan of seduction is being executed by a young woman to entrap an influential politician.
Set in Japanese-ruled Shanghai during World War II era, the game of lust is being played between Tony Chiu Wai Leung and Wei Tang, the two superb actors.
A fine piece of cinema by none other than ace director Ang Lee.
Other famous films by the same director The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
5. To Live (1994)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAZUbjttUPc
From the 40’s to the 70’s, through the turbulent and uncertain times in China, a family desperately struggles ‘to live’.
Even though they lost their personal fortunes and are caught up in the war, the family is determined to survive.
Directed by Yimou Zhang, a bag of mixed emotions and a complete package of Chinese history.
Other famous films by the same director Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and Hero (2002).
4. Yi Yi (2000)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F6tSorwYqw
The film tells the story of a family living in Taipei, an ordinary family with simple day to day emotions like love, fear, disappointment, anxieties and joy.
Directed by Edward Yang, the little emotional tales of each of these family members makes you unconsciously become a part of them. A powerful film of great simplicity.
Other famous films by the same director A Brighter Summer Day (1991) and That Day, on the Beach (1983).
3. Comrades: Almost a Love Story (1996)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVyeMkUy9KI
A boy meets a girl and even if they didn’t want to, they fall for each other.
How many films have been made on the above storyline but yet when director Peter Chan made this film, it became one of the most intriguing love story!
Set in Hong kong and New York, this one is one of the best romantic film ever made.
Other famous films by the same director Dragon (2011) and The Warlords (2007).
2. A Touch of Sin (2013)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUJt_kf7uKQ
Director Zhangke Jia has been the best thing that happened to China in the recent years and this film is one of his best work till date.
Four stories, connected with the act of violence in them!
The film is a statement on China’s present social and political scenario, a chilling take on the country’s oppression and corruption, a story of revolt and despair.
Other famous films by the same director are The World (2004) and Pick Pocket (1997).
1. In the Mood for Love (2000)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnFjSHQFVkA
The direction of Kar Wai Wong, the powerful acting by Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, the brilliant cinematography by Christopher Doyle, the melancholic and soulful music of Michael Galasso and Shigeru Umebayashi – all in one package and it doesn’t get better than this!
A film that is the ultimate take on love and separation, a visual masterpiece, an experience.
Other famous films by the same director Chungking Express (1994) and 2046 (2004).
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most profound and unique one. A must watch).
+1. Farewell My Concubine (1993)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC-_SLiRnJE
Two men who were apprentices in the Peking Opera (Beijing), two performers,stage brothers, and their two parallel yet intertwined stories!
A film of extraordinary beauty and masterful acting, the story of two who remain friends for life.
Directed by Kaige Chen, the film is a visual treat, elaborate costumes and exotic locations and historical accurate story telling.
Other famous films by the same director The Emperor and the Assassin (1998) and Yellow Earth (1984).
Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com, www.listal.com, www.freecodesource.com, www.cinemagora.co.uk, chinesemov.com.