films seen
average score
Hong Kong - 60 years old
Alive and kicking
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Long-time Johnnie To companion who wrote and co-directed many of To's films. Wai also directed some films of his own, which are slightly more lackluster, though rarely disappointing. No doubt an industry giant, just not when flying solo.

Rare treats

Mad Detective

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Sun Taam
2007 / 89m - Hong Kong
Mad Detective poster

Together with Sparrow, To proves himself to be one of the most interesting directors in cinema today. His genre films are strong, original and seamlessly executed and seem to lack any weak points.

The good stuff

Fulltime Killer

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Chuen Jik Sat Sau
2001 / 102m - Hong Kong
Action, Crime
Fulltime Killer poster

One of the films that foreshadowed a new beginning for Johnnie To. Stylish action, brooding crime and quirky details would come to define his films in the 00s. Fulltime Killer puts the most emphasis on action, but all the elements that would launch To as one of the prime HK directors of the decade are already present. Good stuff.

Turn Left Turn Right

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Heung Joh Chow Heung Yau Chow
2003 / 102m - Hong Kong
Turn Left Turn Right poster

Turn Left, Turn Right is a simple, light-hearted drama, but conceptually quite strong and pure. The film demands that you go along with its concept and leave it at that.

Solid pieces


by Ka-Fai Wai
Gwai Ma Kwong Seung Kuk
2004 / 103m - Hong Kong
Fantasia poster


by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Lat Sau Wui Cheun
2000 / 92m - Hong Kong
Help!!! poster

Don't worry too much about the deceptive poster. This film may look like a simple, fluffy To romcom, but there's a bit more to it. Fun performances, a somewhat kooky plot and To's signature direction manage to lift this film well above the expected norm. Seeing how this is another To/Ka-Fai collaboration, that shouldn't be too surprising.

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Yan works in a hospital where the doctors have lost all will to do a proper job. Yan isn't willing to simply accept defeat, and when an old colleague joins her crew she figures it is time to get the hospital care back on track. It won't be easy to get everyone excited about their work again, but Yan is determined to bring her mission to a good end.

The main trio (Jordan Chan, Ekin Cheng and Cecelia Chung) do a good job, the plot has plenty of quirky details and To adds the necessary flair. Help is a somewhat odd, atypical comedy that stands out among the other Hong Kong comedies, which is exactly what Hong Kong cinema needs from time to time. Not one of To's very best film, but fans looking for some lesser known To gems should definitely give this one a go.

The Peace Hotel

by Ka-Fai Wai
Woh Ping Faan Dim
1995 / 89m - Hong Kong
Romance, Action, Crime, Western
The Peace Hotel poster

The inoffensive

Written By

by Ka-Fai Wai
Joi Sun Ho
2009 / 85m - Hong Kong
Drama, Fantasy
Written By poster

The Shopaholics

by Ka-Fai Wai
Jui Oi Nui Yun Kau Muk Kong
2006 / 92m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance
The Shopaholics poster

Himalaya Singh

by Ka-Fai Wai
Hei Ma Lai Ah Sing
2005 / 93m - Hong Kong
Himalaya Singh poster

1:99 Shorts

by Fruit Chan, Teddy Chan, Stephen Chow, Wai-Keung Lau, Joe Ma, Alan Mak, Johnnie To, Brian Tse, Hark Tsui, Ka-Fai Wai, Mabel Cheung, Alex Law, Dante Lam, Adam Wong, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Gordon Chan
2003 / 70m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Drama, Animation
1:99 Shorts poster

Commissioned anthology that was made to lift the spirit of Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic. The who's who of Hong Kong cinema participated, but the result is a little uneven. Not too surprising considering the exterior motives behind this anthology, and there are a couple of worthwhile entries, but overall it's probably best to lower your expectations when watching this.

Running on Karma

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Daai Zek Lou
2003 / 93m - Hong Kong
Drama, Action, Thriller
Running on Karma poster

Johnnie To's collaborations with writer Ka-Fai Wai certainly are unique. I'm not the biggest fan of Wai's writing, which can be a little too sentimental for my taste, but he brings something different to the table. In To he found a director who could execute his wacky ideas with style, and so many of their collabs became instant fan favorites.

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Big isn't just very muscular, he can also see people's future. It's a very handy skill, certainly for the police corps. Yee, a police detective, makes good use of Big, and they work well together, until one day Big finds out Yee is going to die soon. Yee commits to finding the murderer of Big's best friend before she dies, Big will try to change Yee's fate in the meantime.

Andy Lau in a bodysuit is simply hilarious, the story is pretty wacky and To uses every visual trick he has to his disposal. The result is a somewhat messy film, but one that is not short of surprises. The only downside is the rather sentimental ending, which doesn't go well with the rest of the film. Worth a watch, but a bit too uneven for me.

Fat Choi Spirit

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Lik Goo Lik Goo San Nin Choi
2002 / 96m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance
Fat Choi Spirit poster

When you get into Hong Kong cinema, you'll soon find there's no way around mahjong. This Eastern gambling game is so omnipresent that it is virtually a niche of its own. The beauty of the game is that you don't have to understand any of the rules, it's just fascinating to watch regardless. Point in case, To's Fat Choi Spirit.

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Andy is addicted to mahjong, so much in fact that he broke off relations with his family. His luck changes when he meets Gigi, a young girl who seems to be increasing his chances of winning his games. The only problem is that Gigi is a very sore loser herself, whenever she doesn't win she throws a veritable temper tantrum.

The film features an all-star cast and puts quite a bit of focus on the mahjong games, but it's essentially just a very basic romcom. The cast is fine, there are some funny scenes and the pacing is solid, there just isn't enough here to make it a true To classic. Hardcore fans of his work (and his collaborations with Ka-Fai Wai) won't mind, I just wanted a little more.

My Left Eye Sees Ghosts

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Ngo Joh Ngan Gin Do Gwai
2002 / 98m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance, Horror
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts poster

Another To/Wai production. While Johnnie To is best known for his crime films in the West, he also made a fair few comedies. Hong Kong comedy isn't a great export product, so unless you're well familiar with the niche, it may be difficult to see how To's films stand out. Believe me, they really do, and something like My Left Eye Sees Ghosts isn't all that representative for the genre.

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The title should be pretty self-explanatory. When May becomes a widow, she discovers she can suddenly ... see ghosts with her left eye. The ghosts quickly catch on and bug May with requests. She isn't too interested in helping them, she only wants to find the soul of her deceased husband. For that, she seeks help from a shady psychic.

Sammi Cheng is always a pleasure, Lau is solid too, though you have to be able to stand a hefty bit of overacting. The mix of genres is fun (just don't expect any horror elements, this is basically a quirky romcom) and To's direction is on point, only nowhere near his best work. An amusing diversion for fans of To and Hong Kong comedy.

Love on a Diet

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Sau Sun Nam Nui
2001 / 94m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance
Love on a Diet poster

To has a bit of fun with superstars Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng. This glamour couple are back to star in a To/Wai romcom, only this time they have both gained a considerable amount of weight. The result is a somewhat outmodish comedy, that survives on the skills of To and Wai, but probably won't find its way to the top of most people's list of favorites.

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Mimi is a Hong Kong girl who lives in Japan. She has a relationship with a Japanese composer, who tells her he has to go to the US to pursue his career. They promise each other to meet up again a decade later, but Mimi is so heartbroken that she gains a bunch of weight. When the deadline draws close, she wants to lose the extra pounds, helping her is Fatso, another sizeable Hong Kong fella living in Tokyo.

If you can't stand fat jokes and a little body shaming, it should be obvious that you're better off avoiding this film. Apart from that, the comedy is pretty docile and the plot not too exceptional, though the star power attached to this project more than makes up for it. Not a To highlight, but decent fun regardless.

Wu Yen

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Chung Mo Yim
2001 / 123m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Fantasy
Wu Yen poster

A pretty neurotic To/Ka-Fai collaboration. The duo is taking situational/cross-dressing comedy to the next level in Wu Yen. It's far from my favorite type of humor, but when it is done with this kind of intensity it does become quite intriguing to behold. I can't say I kept full track of everything going on, but it sure was amusing to watch.

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Mo-Yim is destined to marry the emperor, before her marriage, she frees a fairy from captivity. The fairy is grateful, but she also falls madly in love with the emperor. In order to stop the marriage, the fairy disfigures Mo-Yim, but she isn't willing to just give up on her destiny and she comes up with a plan to keep the marriage going.

The result is a court comedy with lots of ploys, misunderstandings and people dressing up as other people. The performances aren't that great and not all the jokes land, but the pacing is solid, and the chaos is pretty fun to watch. It's not one of To's better films, but as simple comedy filler there's enough to look forward to.

Needing You

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Goo Laam Gwa Lui
2000 / 101m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance
Needing You poster

Not just a To/Ka-Fai collaboration, also an Andy/Sammi one. When it comes to onscreen couples, they have something special going on, something that makes their films a little better than they ought to be. Needing You isn't a very remarkable entry in To's oeuvre, but if you're looking for a pleasant romcom you can't really go wrong with this one.

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Wah and Kinki both work at the same company. At first, they can't really stand each other, but after a while, a fondness grows between them. Then Wah's ex suddenly turns up again, hoping to get Wah back. To makes things more complicated, she also tries to set up Kinki with another man. Wah is going to have to decide who he cares for the most.

It's still a relatively early To, which shows in the lesser polish. The cinematography isn't too great, the score a bit lazy. Performances are good though and with Ka-Fai writing the script there's a bit more intrigue than usual. It's perfectly fine filler, just not up there with the best of his films.

Dubious filler

Love for All Seasons

by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Baak Nin Hiu Gap
2003 / 93m - Hong Kong
Love for All Seasons poster

Plain forgettable

Too Many Ways to Be No. 1

by Ka-Fai Wai
Yi Ge Zi Tou De Dan Sheng
1997 / 90m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action, Crime
Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 poster