films seen
average score
Hong Kong - 64 years old
Alive and kicking
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A true Hong Kong director. Proficient in almost every genre, Lau can handle big budgets and lofty star power, but he rarely rises above himself to make a true stand-out masterpiece. Even so, many of his films are guaranteed fun.


The Legend of Chen Zhen

Jing Wu Feng Yun: Chen Zhen
2010 / 105m - China
Romance, Fantasy
The Legend of Chen Zhen poster

Great production values, some slick action scenes and a nice cast turn this film into an enjoyable little blockbuster, which can be refreshing in itself from time to time.

The Founding of an Army

Jian Jun Da Ye
2017 / 133m - China
The Founding of an Army poster

As a Westerner, you'll be forced to make a choice that will greatly impact the way you experience this film. See this as a historical document and it's probably one of the more repulsive films out there, see it as a random war epic and it's a lovely spectacle. I decided on option 2, but your mileage may vary. If you hate Chinese propaganda, stay far away from this one.

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Mao Zedong as the savior of the revolution. The CCP is facing some tough uphill battles, then Mao has the bright idea to involve the farmers in his political battle. A neglected group that is pretty sizeable, which means the potential is there to flip the balance. With the new manpower, they try to get a hold of Nanchang, a strategic stronghold.

I'm usually not a big fan of war cinema, but I was properly impressed by Lau's direction. Epic in scope, sporting superb cinematography and with some very impressive settings to boot, there's lots to love here. The story is cheesy though and it's obvious that the larger-than-life narrative isn't a proper representation of what actually happened all those years ago. I liked it as a generic war flick and just ignored the rest.

Revenge of the Green Dragons

2014 / 94m - USA
Drama, Action, Crime
Revenge of the Green Dragons poster

Lau's second attempt to storm Holywood, this time with the help of Scorsese as producer (he called in a favor I assume). It was smart to stick to the genre he was most familiar with, but like most Hong Kong directors visiting the US, his film made little impact. Undeservedly so, because Revenge of the Green Dragons is pretty entertaining, though not without fault.

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The start of the film is somewhat reminiscent of Lau's Young & Dangerous series, with two brothers joining a criminal gang and working themselves up in the ranks. A failed romance breaks up their brotherly bond and they find themselves on opposite sides of each other, with the police close on their tails. A pretty typical crime plot in other words.

The second half of the film is quite a bit darker and grimmer than I expected, which certainly helped with the overall appeal. Performances are somewhat decent (with the exception of Eugenia Yuan, who shines bright here), and the presentation is okay but a little by the numbers. There's not enough here to make the film stand out, and where it does go off the beaten path is probably where fans of Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema may struggle. Good film though.

The Guillotines

Xue Di Zi
2012 / 112m - China
The Guillotines poster

Andrew Lau takes on the Guillotine series. Not sure if it can be considered an actual series or franchise, but the team of fighters has featured in several films throughout the years. Hong Kong loves to recycle lore with potential. Lau's film is pretty spectacular but loses itself too much in drama during the second half, which keeps it from becoming a bona fide action classic.

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Emperor Yong Zheng founded a special team of extremely skilled fighters. He uses them to eliminate his strongest opponents with surgical precision. The Guillotines are feared warriors, but when a new Emperor takes over they are made obsolete. Their group isn't disbanded, but the missions they get are way below their level of competence.

The film takes a flying start, with some superb action sequences that drive up the tension right from the beginning. As things progress Lau tries to sneak in more drama, sadly the plot and cast really aren't fit for this. The presentation remains lush and the finale delivers, but by then it's a case of too little, too late. Still, if you love a good Hong Kong blockbuster, this is an easy recommendation.

Initial D

Tau Man Ji D
2005 / 107m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance, Action
Initial D poster

One of those somewhat uncanny attempts where Hong Kong tries to adapt Japanese anime. It rarely works very well, but Initial D is one of the better efforts. In the hands of Andrew Lau, one of Hong Kong's prime genre/blockbuster mixers, it delivers impressive car chases and decent production values. I admit I never watched the anime this is based on, but I don't think fans should worry too much going into this film.

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Fujiwara used to be a tofu deliverer for his father. To meet the delivery deadlines, he became quite the driver. Fujiwara develops an affinity for the racing sport, and after winning his first race, he feels determined to make it his ultimate life goal. He directs his focus on drift racing, but becoming the best will require more than just technical skill.

It's a bit odd characters kept their Japanese names, but the solid cast is sure to make you forget about that quickly. Jay Chou, Anne Suzuki, and Jordan Chan are perfectly cast. The races are lovingly shot and edited, the drama is a little light but it doesn't annoy and the pacing is on point. Quite a bit better than I expected going in, Lau did well.

Infernal Affairs II

Mou Gaan Dou II
2003 / 119m - Hong Kong
Thriller, Crime
Infernal Affairs II poster

A series that gets better with each film. This second part is a prequel to the first film and is best enjoyed after watching the first part, though it is also possible to see it as a stand-alone film. Everything is just a little bit more refined here, a bit more precise, and a bit better balanced. I never quite got the hype for this series, but if you're looking for a good crime flick, you won't be disappointed.

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The plot is a simple twist on the first film. A young police offer infiltrates as a mole in a dangerous Triad gang. The Triad gang is playing a similar game and sends one of their guys to infiltrate the police force. Fate has it that both will need to work together when they are facing a common enemy, a second Triad gang that is marking its territory.

Andy Lau and Tony Leung are gone, but Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang are just as good (if not a tiny bit better still). The editing is a little slicker, the music a bit more fitting, and the plot just a tad edgier. The finale has a few too many reveals, which drives up the runtime, but other than that this was a perfectly fine crime thriller. Hong Kong and Lau know how to hone their skills.

Infernal Affairs III: End Inferno

Mou Gaan Dou III: Jung Gik Mou Gaan
2003 / 118m - Hong Kong
Thriller, Crime
Infernal Affairs III: End Inferno poster

The third and final part in the infamous Hong Kong Triad/spy trilogy. I liked this one the best, and upon watching it again I still think it's the best of the three. It's just not quite as slick and cunning as I remembered it to be. It's a rare example of a third film beating out its predecessors though.

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The story is both a sequel and prequel to the first film. Part of the film sees how Ming picks up his job again, suspecting another promising superintendent to be a mole for the Triads, while the other half harks back to the past, following Yan on his first undercover mission.

Leung and Lau are both splendid, the film ties together some remaining strands in interesting ways and the switch between both timelines is interesting. The presentation is a tad basic though, with too strong of a focus on the narrative. A fun film and a worthy finale, but not impressive enough to be a personal favorite.

Born to Be King

Sheng Zhe Wei Wang
2000 / 118m - Hong Kong
Thriller, Crime
Born to Be King poster

The final part in the series that made Lau's career. Not sure if I'd call this a sequel or a spin-off (the series is pretty episodic, to begin with), but fans of the Young & Dangerous franchise will find plenty to love here. As long as you don't expect anything new from the series (but why would you, this is a Hong Kong product after all) you'll be fine.

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Chicken is part of San Luen, a Taiwanese Triad gang. He is chosen to marry Nanako, the daughter of a Yakuza leader. It's an important marriage for both gangs, but then the leader of the San Luen gang is murdered. Everyone suspects Chicken is the culprit, a hit to further his own career within the gang. Chicken will have to prove his innocence if he wants to survive.

Characters are introduced, gangs get cozy with each other, and then the backstabbing begins. Born to Be King is a straightforward crime flick, this time focusing on Chicken's characters. It's best seen when you've already familiarized yourself with the Y&D cast, but even as a stand-alone film, this works well enough. Solid genre work.

The Duel

Kuet Chin Chi Gam Ji Din
2000 / 106m - Hong Kong
Fantasy, Action
The Duel poster

Andrew Lau is best known for his crime films, but he never had any trouble switching to other genres. The Duel sees him take on a fantastical martial arts story, with some famous faces to draw in the big crowds. Like most of Lau's films, it is a perfectly fine and entertaining film, but it can't really compete with the best in the genre.

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Yeh is a skilled sword master who decides to make a little comeback. He wants to fight Snow, a famous master who lives in the Palace. The fight is planned for New Year's eve, but in the run-up to the fight strange events take place around the castle. Yeh is the obvious suspect, so he'll have to clear his name before he can concentrate on his actual goal.

Having actors like Andy Lau and Zhao Wei on board is always a bonus, even when your film relies quite heavily on fantastical fights to impress its audience. Think Storm Warriors or Zu Warriors, with a little goofy comedy on the side. The effects can be a little flaky and the ending is a bit too serious, but other than that, I had a really good time with this one.

A Man Called Hero

Zhong Hua Ying Xiong
1999 / 116m - Hong Kong
Action, Adventure
A Man Called Hero poster

Not bad, certainly considering the year it was produced. Well after the hay days of the 90s martial arts, but also well before a new batch of films would put Hong Kong action back on the map. A Man Called Hero isn't a perfect film, but it's a riskier project than expected and with Lau in the director's chair, the result offers simple but fun entertainment.

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When Hero becomes the pupil of a famed sword master he couldn't be happier. When he comes home he finds his parents murdered in cold blood. After he avenges his parents, Hero feels devastated and moves to the USA. Sixteen years later his son wants to make up for lost time with his dad, and tries to seek him out.

The CG isn't the greatest and it's not the be t martial arts action you'll see in your life, but that's not what you should expect from a Lau film. A capable cast, slick pacing, and proper production values make this an enjoyable ride, showcasing his talent to adapt to whatever genre he is working in. Not the greatest, but this was a fun and amusing action filler.

The Storm Riders

Fung Wan: Hung Ba Tin Ha
1998 / 128m - Hong Kong
Fantasy, Action, Adventure
The Storm Riders poster

One of Hong Kong's big fantasy/martial arts franchises. It's not an easy franchise to breach, as there is quite a lot of lore to cover, probably too much to condense in a single film. Hardcore fans may want to start with one of the TV series first, those who prefer to stick to films will find a good entry film in Andrew Lau's adaptation, especially if they have prior experience with this niche.

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Cloud and Storm are two brothers who are raised by an evil lord. He murdered their parents when they were just infants and took them in, hoping to use their special powers in his quest to conquer the world. His plan fails when he drives the brothers apart and they find out about his intentions. Storm and Cloud vow to revenge their parents and stop the lord in his tracks.

The practical effects and action look great, the CG is a real eyesore though. Luckily, the fights get crazier and zanier as the film progresses, so at least the CG is pretty functional. The cast is top notch and the pacing is slick even though the runtime is quite long. Solid blockbuster entertainment is Lau's strong suit, The Storm Riders is a perfect example.

Young and Dangerous - The Prequel

San Goo Waak Chai Ji Siu Nin Gik Dau Pin
1998 / 117m - Hong Kong
Drama, Crime
Young and Dangerous - The Prequel poster

The sixth and final part in the core Young & Dangerous franchise doesn't bring you a proper conclusion, instead, it travels all the way back to the beginning of the series and shows how and where it all began. It's a bit of an odd choice maybe, but I can't say I really minded. Fans of the series will get what they crave, which is what this series is all about: core genre fun.

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A group of youngsters loves to hang out together. When they finally graduate from school, Uncle Bee approaches them and recruits the boys into his local Triad branch. When a friend of theirs joins a competing Triad gang the boys want to prove themselves and do their very best to impress Uncle Bee. Slowly they begin to rise through the ranks.

Because it's a prequel, many of the original actors aren't present (or maybe that's why this sixth part turned into a prequel), which is a shame for the final episode in a lengthy series. If you love yourself some old-fashioned Hong Kong crime cinema, it won't matter too much though, Lau delivers. Chances are slim he'll ever return to the Y&D universe (I don't think the Chinese censors would be too happy), but at least he left us with quite a few quality films.

Young and Dangerous 5

98 Goo Waak Chai Ji Lung Chang Foo Dau
1998 / 114m - Hong Kong
Young and Dangerous 5 poster

The firth part is Lau's sprawling crime franchise is another good one. Jordan Chan is not present (which is a real loss for the series), but the other actors have clearly grown into their characters by now and the film sticks to what it does best: offer a simple but effective crime/Triad story that is sure to appeal to fans of Hong Kong crime cinema.

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Chan Ho Nam and Chicken have been pals in crime forever, but with Chicken gone, Nam will have to fend for himself. He finds a new girlfriend and gets chummy with some members of the Tung Zing gang. Nam is a good mentor, but the Triad life is different from what it used to be and many gangsters are re-schooling themselves into genuine businessmen.

Ekin Cheng really grew in this series and owes a large part of his career to his role here. The rest of the cast is on point too, the plot is fun (but generic, so be sure to try and spread out the Young and Dangerous films) and Lau knows how to build up an epic series. It's not top-tier material, but I think it's hard to overestimate the place and importance of this series in the HK movie industry.

Young and Dangerous 2

Goo Waak Jai 2: Ji Maang Lung Gwoh Gong
1996 / 101m - Hong Kong
Action, Crime
Young and Dangerous 2 poster

The first Young and Dangerous film was good, but not spectacular. This second part ups the stakes. It's obvious that Lau was getting into his groove here, the familiarity with the characters and the clear build-up towards an epic franchise only add to the fun. People who weren't entirely convinced by part one should really give this sequel a fair shot.

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Chan Ho Nam maintains a good relationship with Chicken, who built his own little Triad gang in Taiwan. Nam tries to unite the two groups, but not everyone is happy with this evolution, as it is certain to shift the power balance. When Nam returns from Taiwan, he gets into trouble with Tai Fei, who controls the Causeway area. A dispute that is poised to blow up.

The start of the film is a little slow, but once Anthony Wong joins the party, part 2 gets a serious quality injection. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but they play clear roles in the setup of the broader intrigues, and Lau has a solid grip on the narrative, keeping things easy enough to follow. The result is a fun Hong Kong crime flick that should get people excited enough to watch the rest of the series.

Kung Fu Monster

Wu Lin Guai Shou
2018 / 104m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Fantasy
Kung Fu Monster poster

Low on kung fu and monsters. Lau's latest is a historic fantasy epic with strong comedy beats. The kung fu is inevitable but low-key, it's mostly big budget fantasy combined with a cuddly but deadly monster. Expensive blockbuster entertainment, not high quality cinema. It's perfectly acceptable filler though, just don't expect too much from it.

A Beautiful Life

Mei Li Ren Sheng
2011 / 122m - Hong Kong
Drama, Romance
A Beautiful Life poster

Andrew Lau loves a good cliche. He is best known for doing crime and action blockbusters, but he's worked in pretty much every major/bankable genre, so it's really no surprise to see him tackle a romantic drama. I'm not the biggest fan of these illness-based tearjerkers and A Beautiful Life didn't change my mind, but at least the execution is on point.

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After a particularly rowdy night in a karaoke bar, Peiru messes up when she throws up on Zhengdong, a police officer trying to help her. To her surprise, Zhengdong isn't too shaken by the incident, and not long after he tries to befriend Peiru. She has a relationship with a wealthy businessman, but her friendship with Zhengdong quickly turns into something more.

The performances are good, the presentation is pleasant and some of the dramatic notes work well. The plot (and dramatic punchline) are very predictable though and some additional sideline drama only adds unnecessary sentimentality. It's certainly not the worst film in its genre, but don't go in expecting too much subtlety.

Confession of Pain

Seung Sing
2006 / 110m - Hong Kong
Drama, Thriller, Crime
Confession of Pain poster

Lau's attempt to recreate the success of Infernal Affairs is a bit too obvious. On paper, there isn't too much wrong with this film, but for all the money and talent that went into it, Confession of Pain struggles to stand out from the crowd. My expectations were a tad higher going in, though I will say that I never got bored while watching.

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Hei is a police detective who is investigating the murder of his father-in-law. Even though he does a very thorough job, every angle or detail he checks out leads to another dead end. Hei is faced with a perfect crime, and so he calls in the help of Bong, a private detective. Bong is dealing with mental issues, but he is known for digging into a case like no other.

The performances are solid (but what did you expect, with Leung and Kaneshiro as leads), the presentation is slick and the film hits all the genre notes. The twists are a bit basic though and Lau puts a strong focus on the story, which draws out the runtime. Confession of Pain is a more than adequate blockbuster, it's just that the potential was there to do more with it.

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.

Infernal Affairs

Mou Gaan Dou
2002 / 101m - Hong Kong
Thriller, Crime
Infernal Affairs poster

Infernal Affairs is one of the most internationally recognized Hong Kong films, but the first time I watched it I was mightily disappointed. My head was too wrapped up in (very stylized) Japanese cinema back then, and this was one of the first Hong Kong films I watched purposefully. It was just too close to the type of Hollywood cinema I hated. Revisiting the film in the wake of The Departed did some good, but this will never be a personal favorite of mine.

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Yan is an undercover cop who worked himself up in a big Triad organization. After ten years, he finally made it to where he wanted to be. Ming is a Triad mole who joined the cops when he was 18. With the help of his bosses, he was quickly promoted to a meaningful position. When Ming is ordered to arrest his Triad boss, the two moles will have to get very tactical if they don't want to blow their cover.

Leung and Lau are good but Wong and Tsang are better. The plot is fine, but not all that special, the cinematography (and certainly the editing) felt a little hasty. Infernal Affairs is a perfectly serviceable blockbuster filler, though I actually liked the sequels better. At least it wasn't bested by Scorsese's remake, but that's hardly praise coming from me.

Bullets of Love

Bat Sei Ching Mai
2001 / 107m - Hong Kong
Drama, Action
Bullets of Love poster

A pretty solid police procedural sporting some interesting touches. Lau is one of those directors who experiments while shooting and uses that experience to polish his future films. It is noticeable here, but the base quality is present, and some experiments are quite successful. It makes Bullets of Love a fun film for Lau adepts, others should probably check out his more famous films first.

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Sam is a Hong Kong police officer who catches a powerful Triad boss. Sam's wife works for the justice department and puts the guy in jail. When they are on vacation, Sam's wife is murdered, after which Sam quits the force and opens a cafe. A little while after a Japanese tourist walks into his bar. She looks exactly like Sam's former wife.

The basics of the film are familiar, but Lau adds a few neat touches that help to set it apart from similar films (and Hong Kong has quite a few). The performances are decent and the ending packs a refreshing punch, the presentation feels a little sloppy though and the balance between various elements could've been better. Not bad, but not one of Lau's best ones.

The Avenging Fist

Kuen Sun
2001 / 92m - Hong Kong
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Action
The Avenging Fist poster

Pulpy fun. Andrew Lau is one of those directors who can switch between slick blockbuster cinema and cheesy entertainment without batting an eye. People expecting a more serious film should definitely look elsewhere, The Avenging Fist is a culmination of cheap beat 'em up cliches that are mixed together into a barely cohesive narrative.

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Nova is a young martial artist tasked with protecting the Avenging Fist style. The Red Dragon clan wants to learn the style as they believe it's what prevents them from taking over the world. Nova seeks out the help of several other martial arts masters, hoping they can aid him in his quest against the Red Dragons.

This film is all about the action, which is why action choreographer Corey Yuen received director credits. Having someone like Sammo Hung on board is also quite handy, though the weight gags were a bit much, even for me. I almost felt sorry for him. The effects are crappy and the two leads are pretty bad, but the energy is awesome and the way Lau leans into the cheese is exemplary. Good but pulpy entertainment.

Young and Dangerous 4

97 Goo Waak Jai Jin Mo Bat Sing
1997 / 106m - Hong Kong
Drama, Action
Young and Dangerous 4 poster

Part four of the infamous Young and Dangerous series feels a bit scope, which is a shame. It's almost like watching a spin-off or filler episode, rather than a film that has earned its place in the main franchise. Jordan Chan's meatier role is the biggest plus, but those who yearn for some all-out gang wars should probably lower their expectations.

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When the leader of the Hung Hing Triad comes to pass Ho Nam and Ho Bun travel to Thailand to find Yang, the former leader's younger brother. When they are gone, others see their chance to upset the power balance, hoping to come out better in the end. When they finally locate Yang, the three of them return to their home turf as quickly as possible, before the damage becomes unrepairable.

This fourth part is a little fleeting and inconsequential. It might have worked better as a spin-off episode, but fans of Hong Kong crime cinema won't be too disappointed in this film. The cast is solid, the familiarity works in the film's favor and there's still plenty of gang action and intrigue. Andrew Lau did well, but he did better in parts 2, 5and 6.

Young and Dangerous

Gu Huo Zi: Zhi Ren Zai Jiang Hu
1996 / 97m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller, Crime
Young and Dangerous poster

This is no doubt the most important film in Andrew Lau's career. Yes, Infernal Affairs made a bigger splash on the international stage, but this first Young and Dangerous film kicked off a franchise that would cement Lau's status for years to come. To do it at a time when Hong Kong cinema was struggling is even more impressive.

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Nam is slowly climbing the ranks of the Hung Hing Triad, his good friend Chicken is sent to Taiwan to hide from the cops. Both continue their criminal career separately until their bosses get in a bit of a scuffle. Chicken's boss makes some outrageous demands that Nam's boss isn't even willing to discuss. The two will be forced to take sides.

The actors were still getting to know their characters and by itself, this isn't the most notable Hong Kong crime flick. But as the film that started a 6-film franchise (and some spin-off), it's perfectly serviceable. Lau would improve on the formula in the sequels (as he always does), but fans of (Hong Kong) crime cinema should really give this series a go. Good fun.

Young and Dangerous 3

Gu Huo Zi 3: Zhi Zhi Shou Zhe Tian
1996 / 98m - Hong Kong
Drama, Action
Young and Dangerous 3 poster

Part three of the infamous Young and Dangerous franchise does what a good sequel should do. It rehashed the concept of the precious parts, but it adds a lot to the lore and the characters of the series. It's a solid film that will please fans of Hong Kong crime cinema, but it's not something that sticks out as too remarkable or high quality.

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Ho Nam is still rising in the ranks of the Hung Hing Triad. He was made leader of the Causeway Bay area, but this also puts a target on his back. Nam is held responsible for the assassination of one of the other leaders, concocted by some of his adversaries. He'll have to do his very best to clear himself of the accusations raised against him.

This third part feels familiar and doesn't tinker too much with the core elements of this series. It sticks with its primary cast, it adds a few new adversaries, and off we go for 100 minutes of betrayal and murder. It's pleasant crime fare that banks on familiarity and pacing, setting things up for better sequels to come. Another solid entry in the franchise.

Lover of the Last Empress

Ci Xi Mi Mi Sheng Huo
1995 / 100m - Hong Kong
Drama, Western
Lover of the Last Empress poster

An older Lau. It always amazes me how much difference a mere two years made in Hong Kong. In '93 this might've turned out to be a bona fide masterpiece, two years later it feels a bit lifeless and generic. It's not a bad film, mind, it's just that this isn't up there with the best Hong Kong has to offer, even though the material was there.

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When Yu Lan arrives at the Emperor's Palace to serve as his concubine, she is young and naive and she has trouble standing up for herself. In time, she learns to handle herself better and the longer she remains there, the more cunning and backhanded she becomes. Lan wants to take over the Emperor's role, but she's not the only one.

Jing Wong's influence is still somewhat visible in this film, it would be a couple more years before Lau would learn to stand on his own two feet. Don't expect too much action, this film is more focused on betrayal and court drama. The performances are decent, the presentation is okay and the evolution of Yu Lan is pretty fun, it's just not a film that stands out in any way.

Mean Street Story

Miao Jie Gu Shi
1995 / 100m - Hong Kong
Mean Street Story poster

Andrew Lau on the edge of fame. This film isn't part of the Young and Dangerous franchise, but it sure feels like a deliberate tryout before getting started on the real deal. With Ekin Cheng in the lead and the Triad setting well embedded into the film, it's a pretty logical comparison to make, so fans of Y&D should really give this one a go.

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Melvin grew up in the center of the Triad districts, but he always kept out of their way. When one day he rescues a woman from the clutches of a rowdy gang, he ends up in jail for inadvertently killing one of the gangsters. When he finally gets out he seeks out the woman, but he'll find that his past will weigh heavily on the rest of his life.

This film was a great tryout for both Cheng and Lau. The plot is a tad more character focused and the film lacks the epic proportions of the Young and Dangerous films, but the setting, the cinematography, the story beats, and the plot structure all feel very familiar. Good fun if you like Hong Kong crime cinema and essential for fans of Lau's crime work.

Ghost Lantern

Yun Pei Dung Lung
1993 / 92m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Ghost Lantern poster

Early Lau. The interesting thing here is that fans of his work can already see glimpses of Lau's bolstering talent. For a film that looks like a typical early-90s shoo-in, it feels quite unique, even a little out of place. Not that this is a wildly creative or original film, but in an industry where conformity is the norm, small details tend to stick out a lot more.

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Fai is a low-ranking Triad member, who finds himself haunted by the ghost of a young woman. She claims to be his lover from a previous life. He doesn't remember any of it, but he is willing to help her out. She was murdered and her skin was used to make a lantern. The lantern is in possession of a rival Triad clan, so Fai's task is to retrieve the object in order to set her free.

Ka Fai is perfect for his part, and so is Yau. While the setup is pretty grotesque, don't expect any true horror from this film. Hong Kong ghosts are rarely scary, the mix with other genres makes it even harder to create even the tiniest bit of tension. But it's a pretty enjoyable genre mix regardless, so if you crave some solid Hong Kong genre filler, Lau has you covered.

The Ultimate Vampire

Jiang Shi Zhi Zun 
1991 / 88m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Horror
The Ultimate Vampire poster

Andrew Lau does classic Hong Kong vampire action. It's a pretty specific niche that boomed during the late 80s. Everyone wanted to share in the wealth (in true HK fashion), and so it's no surprise to see Lau have a go at it at the very start of his career. The result is exactly what you'd expect from a film like this: nothing out of the ordinary, but good genre fun.

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A small town is hit by some very peculiar murders. The victims are found with two holes in their necks. It's pretty obvious the village has a vampire problem, so they rely on a Taoist priest and his two disciples to save them from the evil that haunts them. The vampire has some tricks up his sleeve though, making the job of the priest much harder than he anticipated.

Lam Ching-Lying is here, the face of an entire niche. Other than that, Lau sticks to what was popular back then, meaning the cinematography is on point, the martial arts action is solid and the fantasy elements look pretty cool. It's not a film that is remarkable in any way, but if you like the Hong Kong vampire niche this film won't disappoint.

Look for a Star

Yau Lung Hei Fung
2009 / 117m - Hong Kong
Look for a Star poster

A straight-up rom-com. As much as I like Shu Qi, fans of Hong Kong romcoms know that there's no better onscreen couple than Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng. The bigger problem is the excess of drama that is unleashed in the second half of the film though, which really drags down the mood. A good rom-com needs some drama, but it has to be balanced.

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Sam is a wealthy bachelor. Many women are interested, but he has a hard time finding the right one. His first three marriages failed, but he can't give up on love. Then he meets Milan, a young woman who works in a casino. Sam and Milan fall in love and things seem to be going well. Once they're married though, their relationship begins to show the first cracks.

The first hour is solid. Andy Lau can do this kind of thing with his eyes closed, Qi doesn't have much trouble playing the love interest either, but there isn't that much sparkle. The second half should've been cut down or shortened, as a more streamlined film would've been better. In the end, it's not a terrible film, but it's a bit of a sappy blockbuster that isn't quite as good as its cast and crew would suggest.

The Triangle

2006 / 110m - South Korea
Drama, Romance
The Triangle poster

An odd little project. A Hong Kong director and Korean cast take along a Japanese composer to shoot a film in The Netherlands. It's an interesting setup that is never quite as fresh or original as it sounds on paper. Still, The Triangle is a lot better than Lau's attempt to conquer the US the next year, so that's at least something.

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A criminal staying in The Netherlands is in love with a young paintress. He sends her flowers to show her his love, but he won't confront her directly, fearing his job might put her in danger. Then a detective comes along and the girl mistakingly assumes he's her worshipper. The criminal is furious and finally comes out of hiding to stop anything from happening between the two.

The setup of the romance is nice, though a little slick. I didn't really care for the crime elements that were added though. The performances aren't the greatest and the romantic triangle could've been stronger, but all in all, it is a quirky little project that should go down easy for fans of Lau's work.

The Park

Chow Lok Yuen
2003 / 91m - Hong Kong
The Park poster

2003. The Asian suspense wave was raging, Japan and Korea were benefitting like mad, and Hong Kong was pretty pissed they'd (almost) completely missed the boat. Not for lack of trying, but their sense of horror is just too different from the West to make it a successful export product. Andrew Lau's The Park is a perfect example. It clearly tries to appeal to Western tastes, but the execution is too poor to make it work.

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Alan has been missing for a week already. The trail leads to an abandoned amusement park that is supposedly haunted after a young girl was murdered there a decade earlier. Alan's mom can mark ghosts with her camera and believes her son is already dead, but his friends decide to check out the park regardless. One by one they go missing.

The setting is perfect for a horror flick, only Lau doesn't really know how to use it. He throws in all kinds of horror clichés, but because there are so many it becomes impossible to build up any tension, let alone deliver real scares. It's still a somewhat okay horror film, as Lau keeps throwing different ideas at you, but for me, it's more proof that Hong Kong somehow has trouble making scary flicks.

Women from Mars

Dong Laam Yan Bin Shing Lui Yan
2002 / 100m - Hong Kong
Women from Mars poster

A film that looks delightfully wacky on paper, but is in fact pretty simple, basic genre entertainment. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but the film is a bit too glossy and forgettable to leave a strong impression. Of course, Lau is one of those directors who learned the trade while making films, so consider this a simple exercise for better films to come.

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Three womanizers return home defeated. While taking the bus, they are kidnapped and brought to hell for their sins. Sadly, hell is quite full and there is.o place for them, so they are sent back to Earth. Only this time they have to go through life as women, and they'll be subjected to the same nasty tricks they've been pulling for years. Only by finding true love will their curse be reverted.

It's a rather messy film that constantly switches between tone and genre. Lau is pretty good at that, but it does make it hard to care much about any of it. Ekin Cheng isn't the best man to lead a comedy like this, the rest of the cast isn't strong enough to cover for him. It's still decent genre fluff, but not a very notable film in Lau's oeuvre.

The Legend of Speed

Lit Feng Chin Che 2 Gik Chuk Chuen Suet
1999 / 109m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller
The Legend of Speed poster

Andrew Lau and Ekin Cheng, there was a time they were virtually inseparable. That's not too surprising, considering they owe each other a lot for the successes they've enjoyed. The Legend of Speed is a somewhat meager attempt to cash in on the race hype that had Hong Kong in its grip for a couple of years, it's just not that great of a film.

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Sky is a formidable racer. In a showdown with Hung, he beats him fair and square. Hung can't really handle the loss and he keeps pestering Sky. So Sky travels to Thailand to reconnect with his father, a superb racer in his own time. His father is willing to help Sky become an even better racer and defeat Hung once and for all.

This felt a bit like a lesser Benny Chan film, or maybe just a try-out before taking on the Initial D franchise. The races are pretty fun, but the extended block of drama and romance that was added to pad out the runtime is a nuisance. It mostly hampers the middle part, and the ending is fine again, but if they'd left 20 minutes on the cutting floor, they'd have had a better film.

Best of the Best

Fei Hu Xiong Xin 2 Zhi Ao Qi Bi Tian Gao
1996 / 107m - Hong Kong
Best of the Best poster

Straightforward sequel to Gordon Chan's Final Option. Lau delivers a decent but unremarkable Hong Kong police thriller that should feel very familiar to fans of the genre. The action is solid, the drama not so much, the overall finish mediocre. This is decent filler, but only for those who've already seen the myriad of better options.

The Flock

2007 / 96m - USA
Drama, Mystery, Crime
The Flock poster

Andrew Lau finally made his way to America, only to make a pretty generic thriller with Richard Gere. It's difficult for a mere film fan to gauge the appeal of such a project, but as someone who appreciates most things Lau did, this turned out to be a pretty big disappointment, and not worth the effort at all. Hollywood has enough generic thrillers, no need to waste a decent director from Hong Kong on such projects.

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Enroll is a seasoned but somewhat unruly FBI agent. He is assigned a young protégé who he needs to train, not something he's actively looking forward to. He is currently trailing a violent rapist and killer, who he hopes to track down by finding a missing girl. It turns out his new protégé will prove quite helpful in his quest to catch the bad guy.

The plot is pretty generic, the cinematography is bland and the actors don't make much of an effort. The soundtrack was the only notable thing here, but that's hardly something that is going to save a film like this. I'm not surprised Lau moved back to Hollywood after shooting The Flock, it isn't a terrible film, it's just extremely basic and forgettable.


Yi Jian Zhong Qing
2000 / 98m - Hong Kong
Sausalito poster

Before truly committing himself to direct a Hollywood film, Lau did a test run with Sausalito. Rather than go full in, he imported some Hong Kong actors and used them in an American setting. It wasn't a big success, sadly it didn't really improve his following USA project either. Sausalito would've been twice as good if he'd just shot it in Hong Kong.

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Ella and Mike run into each other in a place where singles mingle. Mike is a slick businessman, Ella is a divorced mother. After a short romantic adventure, Mike falls for Ella's charms. Ella is hesitant as she doesn't really trust Mike, but he insists, as he is unable to forget about their time together. Mike keeps pushing until she finally caves.

Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai are solid actors, but to see them struggle and suffer through their English dialogues is rather painful. It doesn't help the romance, neither does the generic setup, the bland score, or the predictable outcome. Sausalito feels like one of Lau's learn-as-you-go experiments, so unless you're a big fan of his work (or the lead actors), approach with caution.

To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui

Xin Bian Yuan Ren
1994 / 100m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller, Crime
To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui poster

Jing Wong introducing Andrew Lau. Say about Wong what you will, he helped a lot of important people in Hong Kong make inroads into the movie industry. Wong rarely did it with good films, then again it is quite normal in Hong Kong to learn the trade director some simple genre work.

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That's pretty much what you're getting here. A very plain story about an undercover cop who starts to doubt his loyalty to his job. It's all pretty cliché, Jacky Cheung isn't really the man for the job either, but it goes through all the motions and it's clear that Lau took a few pointers from this film.

There are a few decent action scenes and some moody moments, I'm pretty sure core genre fans probably won't be disappointed by this film either, it's just that Hong Kong/Andrew Lau made way better action thrillers. To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui is decent but generic genre work, nothing more, nothing less.

The Captain

Zhong Guo Ji Zhang
2019 / 111m - China
The Captain poster

A very classic, bombastic and overly sentimental thriller about a captain steering his airplane to safety. There are a few scenes that are effective in raising the tension, but they are few and far between. The rest is way too overdone and cheesy to make any kind of positive impression. A very disappointing Lau film, he can do so much better.

Dance of a Dream

Oi Gwan Yue Mung
2001 / 94m - Hong Kong
Dance of a Dream poster

An oldskool dance flick helmed by Andrew Lau and fronted by Andy Lau. It's little more than a simple romance with the dance stuff having only a minor impact on the film, so fans of more recent (and dedicated) dance movies should probably lower their expectations. It's also not a very good romance for that matter, so I guess that advice goes for pretty much everyone.

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Wah is a gifted dance instructor. He looks like a nice guy, but he is quite mean and spiteful underneath. When two women join his dance school, Wah is delighted. One's a young and wealthy socialite, the other a simple waitress. Both are romantically interested in Wah and try to win his favor. Wah doesn't mind, but suddenly finds himself loving the wrong woman.

Lau's direction is unremarkable, the cast looks like it's running on autopilot (only Sandra Ng makes an effort, in one of her most feminine roles ever) and neither the dancing nor the romance elements are on point. This felt a lot like generic shelf filler, which is a bit surprising considering the flow Andrew Lau was in back then. For completists only.

Rhythm of Destiny

Ban Wo Zong Heng
1992 / 90m - Hong Kong
Drama, Crime
Rhythm of Destiny poster

One of Lau's earliest films. Like most Hong Kong directors, Lau started off making generic genre fluff. There's really no effort made to put a personal stamp on the project, it's more about learning the trade, and getting a title on the shelves. From that perspective, it's a pretty decent affair still, but unless you want to complete Lau's oeuvre there's no hard incentive to seek this one out.

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Two brothers are polar opposites. One is a reasonably successful singer, the other a sneaky jewel thief. They are leading completely different lives, but even so, they decide to open up a nightclub together. They mean well, but when the bar attracts the wrong kind of clientele, trouble starts brewing and the relationship between the two is heavily tested.

A generic genre film, that's what you're getting. Second-rate actors in lead roles, a very predictable plot, bland cinematography, and a negligible score. Nothing about this film draws attention to itself. It's a good way for a director to get himself acquainted with his job, but sadly, it doesn't make for a very good film.

Against All

Peng Dang
1990 / 89m - Hong Kong
Drama, Crime
Against All poster

Early Andrew Lau that hooks itself into the racing hype that was well underway back then. As could be expected, it's very much a project where Lau stuck to what was expected of him, learning the trade rather than making worthwhile cinema. Against All is the definition of easy shelf filler, but in that sense, it's not the worst film to sit through.

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Steve and a few of his pals work in his uncle's garage. They love to tinker with cars, and they don't mind taking them out for a spin. Steve falls in love with a singer in a local bar, what he doesn't know is that a Triad member also has the hots for this girl. Steve isn't willing to back down that easily, so he is willing to go against the Triads to win his lady's heart.

The story is pretty generic, then again, so is the rest of the film. The performances are pretty weak, Lau's direction is very basic and the film looks dirt cheap. None of this is very unexpected of course, and the runtime/pacing make sure I never got too bored watching. Unless you're a real Lau adept or a big fan of race films, there's not much reason to prioritize this film.

Chinese Doctors

Zhong Guo Yi Sheng
2021 / 129m - China
Chinese Doctors poster

Poor Lau. He used to be one of the leading figures in Hong Kong's sprawling blockbuster scene, nowadays, he's putting out unseemly and schmaltzy propaganda that's rivaling even the worst of Hollywood cinema. Chinese Doctors is barely a film, instead you get a ridiculously colored retelling of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan.

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Unless you've been living in a cave for the past two years, you're probably already familiar with the plot, even when this film isn't very interested in giving a proper, historically correct recount of the events. Early 2020 the corona virus suddenly hits Wuhan, a state of emergency is declared, and the hospitals do their very best to get a grip on the pandemic.

There's hardly a coherent plot, characters merely exist to symbolize the Chinese spirit, the way China handled the beginning of the pandemic is described as some kind of incredible success story and there's not a single ounce of critique or self-reflection. A film like this is really in bad taste, I generally don't care too much about a little extra heroism in films, but this was just utterly insane and completely tone-deaf.

The Wesley's Mysterious File

Wai See Lee Ji Lam Huet Yan
2002 / 88m - Hong Kong
Sci-fi, Romance, Action
The Wesley's Mysterious File poster

I'm not even going to try and figure out how and why this film was made. No doubt mistakes were made, talented people saw the error of their ways, and they vowed never to make the same mistakes again. But the film is here and the memories remain. This is Andrew Lau at his worst.

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Wesley is a special agent who tracks down aliens on Earth. He is tracking a female specimen who is looking for her brother. Wesley ends up in the middle of a government conspiracy involving tests on extraterrestrials, and he discovers several alien races are involved in this hot mess.

Hong Kong was never too good at sci-fi, it's insane that they took a film with a silly premise like this and tried to turn it into something serious. The special effects are dreadful, the tone of the film is all wrong, and even Andy Lau can't save this disaster. It's a real train wreck, and that's about the best thing about this production.

Raped by an Angel

Xiang Gang Qi An: Zhi Qiang Jian
1993 / 97m - Hong Kong
Thriller, Crime
Raped by an Angel poster

One of Hong Kong's sleazier franchises, somewhat surprisingly started off by Andrew Lau and (less surprisingly) Jing Wong. The concept is actually quite decent, but everything else is just poorly executed. It's good that Lau detached himself from Wong later on as the two have very different strengths, and Lau really is wasted in this type of material.

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A crafty lawyer is trying to outsmart the law. He comes up with elaborate plans to create situations where it is actually legal for him to rape women. He kills his victims too and makes it look like suicides. When the best friend of one of his victims finds out she didn't kill herself, she vows to track down the culprit and clear her best friend's name.

I was pretty surprised to see Simon Yam here, then again he did take on quite some questionable roles at the start of his career. The presentation of the film is drab, the performances are poor and even though the setup is somewhat interesting, the direction is just messy and unfocused. Not Lau's proudest moment, luckily he would redeem himself in the years to come.