Chinese speaking films were popularised by legendary directors like Zhang Yimou, Wong Karwai and many other prodigies. Each filmmaker, with their own unique style, paint their impression of sinophone on the cinematic screen for audiences to live. We have gathered a short list of visually inspiring Chinese films for you to watch to get into the mood for the upcoming lunar new year.
The Wild, Wild Rose (1960), Tian-Lin Wang
This oldest film on this list features the diva of the 50s and 60s, Grace Chang. This musical is based on the theme of Bizet’s Carmen with the Chinese version of Hanabera and many other songs guaranteed to entertain you and your loved ones.
Raise The Red Lantern is one of Gongli’s earlier notable collaborations with the director Zhang Yimou. Set in a traditional Chinese household, Gongli enters the family as the fourth mistress. The story with heavy with familial drama, and exquisite costumes and set add to the Chinese imperial realness you crave for in classic films such as these.
This masterpiece by Chen Kaige portrays Chinese opera and its painful shift from pre to post Cultural Revolution society. A perfect cultural documentation with addictive plot and imagery, film's plot revolve around the relationship between Leslie and Fengyi and subsequently their relationship with the opera. The cultural revolution puts strains on these ties, and the film is ultimately a commentary on the repercussions of the revolution.
Wong Karwai’s In The Mood For Love is a masterpiece with a cinematography that no cineaste can resist. Set in the 60’s, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung move into their new apartments, each waiting for their spouses to return from work trips. As they learn more about each other, untold narratives start to unravel. As time passes, a deeper relationship braises between the two. On a side note, Maggie Cheung in her cheongsam is so beautiful, we rewatch the film just to study her fashion.
A newer Taiwanese gangster film set in the 80’s, Monga gravitates towards the theme of friendship as Mark Chao joins a gang on invitation and has his life forever changed by it. The plot also involves the Lungshan temple, where people visit to pray during Chinese New Year. If you are not planning to go to Taiwan this new year's, transport yourselves there cinematically with this film.
A touching film that teaches that familial love is not exclusive to blood relations, A Simple Life is an autobiographical story of Ann Hui's relationship with his house maid. Having been in the household since the protagonist was a small boy, Sister Tao is old when he becomes a man (played by Andy Lau). As Sister Tao is like a mother to Andy's character, he is torn to have her taken to the retirement home. It is a challenge not to cry while watching this film. The best scene happens to take place on Chinese New Year and will remind you why it is important to go home on Chinese New Year.
To switch the mood up, Kungfu Hustle is a movie that will make you laugh your lungs out. This martial arts-gangster comedy is a parody of wuxia films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Hero (2002). The comical characters and their kungfu abilities are reminiscent of serious martial arts films but with hilarious twists. This movie is enjoyable for people of all ages and a good film to watch and have laughs with the whole family.
A whacky fantasy adventure film kids will love, the story is set in a mythical era when monsters and men co-existed. A war breaks out between the two races, and a monster prince must flee his capture by humans. Not only cute, this movie teaches children (and adults) to respect and appreciate differences.