Where to start?
1. John Woo. The Killer holds up the best on repeated viewings, but Hard Boiled makes the biggest first impression, at least circa the early 1990s. It is less shocking today, precisely because it has been so influential. Bullet in the Head has some incredible peak moments, but I’ve never loved A Better Tomorrow as many people do, neither part I nor part II. Once a Thief — the true Hong Kong edition only — is a good dark horse pick, nimble and philosophical. Of the American Woo movies, Windtalkers, about the Navajo code talkers during World War II, is much underrated, a fine work.
2. Ringo Lam. City on Fire, and also Prison on Fire. I would like to know more of them.
3. Wong Kar-wai. I love all of his movies up through 2000, after that I have mixed feelings at best. Essential viewing, perhaps my favorite is Chungking Express, for capturing a certain era in Hong Kong, although I doubt that is the best one.
4. Tsui Hark. I am sorry, but I never have loved them, the less pretentious the better. I did enjoy Chinese Ghost Story.
5. Jackie Chan. Drunken Master II is my favorite, for some U.S. releases this was retitled simply Drunken Master. You’ll just have to figure it out. I love the first thirty minutes or so of Armour of God, you can skip the rest. I consider him one of the comic geniuses of recent times.
The Infernal Affairs trilogy is quite good, as is Election. Some of the early Shaw Kung Fu movies have entertaining moments, best seen is excerpts. Chow-Yun Fat is perhaps my favorite movie actor. There is plenty more I don’t know about.
The bottom line: People, you need to have seen all of these movies, now. Just ask Scott Sumner.