Top 10 Andy Lau action movies
Writer: Casey Chong
Andy Lau in a scene from "Shock Wave".
Come April 20th, Andy Lau will be back in action with Herman Yau's "Shock Wave".
Touted as one of the highly-anticipated Hong Kong action blockbusters of the year, "Shock Wave" marks a refreshing change of pace from your usual cop genre as the movie explores the rare profession of a bomb-disposal officer in Hong Kong.
To coincide with the upcoming release, we have compiled Andy Lau's 10 best action movies ever portrayed throughout his four decades' worth of storied career.
1. "Rich And Famous" (1987) and "Tragic Hero" (1987)
During the 1980s, Andy Lau's early career was spiralling downward after his fallout with TVB. But he managed to overcome the odds when he shifted his focus from TV to movie roles. One of his early movies that helped revitalise his career was the two-part gangster drama, "Rich And Famous" and "Tragic Hero". Made back-to-back and released a few months apart during the same year of 1987, Lau proves he was already a superstar-in-the-making even at his young age. "Rich And Famous" and "Tragic Hero" also proved to be a box-office hit, thanks to the star-studded appearances of Chow Yun-Fat and Alex Man as well as its "heroic bloodshed" undertone that popularised the '80s HK action cinema.
2. "A Moment Of Romance" (1990)
Although "A Moment Of Romance" is best remembered for its iconic "good girl loves bad boy" romantic plot between Andy Lau's Wah Dee and Wu Chien-Lien's Jojo, Benny Chan's genre-defining triad classic doesn't skimp on the graphic depiction of gang violence. Then, there is Andy Lau. His Wah Dee character is one of his most signature roles ever seen in his career during the 1990s and his famous motorcycle scene scored to Shirley Yuen's heartfelt theme song of "Tin Yuek Yau Ching" ("If The World Had Romance") is the stuff of legend.
3. "Full Throttle" (1995)
Five years after his career-defining role in "A Moment Of Romance", Andy Lau is back on the bike in this popular motorcycle-themed action drama directed by Derek Yee (1993's "C'est La Vie, Mon Chéri"). Likewise, Lau was in top form in this movie and even earned a Best Actor nomination at the 15th Hong Kong Film Awards. The final race scene on a long, winding road is one of the best motorcycle racing set-pieces ever choreographed in the history of Hong Kong cinema.
4. "The Adventurers" (1995)
Andy Lau and his "A Moment Of Romance" co-star Wu Chien-Lien reunited in this globe-trotting action adventure shot on location in Hong Kong, United States and the Philippines. Lau delivered his usual charismatic self, while the action - ranging from shootouts to the helicopter assault - was a solid piece of mainstream entertainment.
5. "Running Out Of Time" (1999)
Best remembered as Andy Lau's long-overdue Best Actor win at the 19th Hong Kong Film Awards after being nominated for three times in the past (1989's "As Tears Go By", 1991's "Lee Rock" and 1995's "Full Throttle"), "Running Out Of Time" is a quirky yet entertaining cat-and-mouse chase thriller featuring Andy Lau and Lau Ching-Wan at the top of their game. Thanks to their engaging performances, it was certainly fun watching them play criminal and hostage negotiator, respectively, as they attempt to outwit each other throughout the course of the movie. Sure, some of the comedy moments tend to be borderline cheesy while Johnnie To's penchant for using sped-up shots to make his actors look cool gets overwhelming at times, but despite the shortcomings, "Running Out Of Time" remains a satisfying mainstream crowd-pleaser and a must-see for Hong Kong movie fans.
6. "Fulltime Killer" (2001)
The word "cool" is best kept for this slick action thriller directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai, which also pays tribute to some of Hollywood's most recognisable action movies such as "Die Hard", "Point Break" and "Leon: The Professional". "Fulltime Killer", of course, is best known for pairing Andy Lau and Takashi Sorimachi of TV's "GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka" fame as two opposing professional killers-for-hire. The action, ranging from the police station raid to the shootout in an apartment building, and the final showdown in an abandoned building, were all impressively staged with energetic camerawork that recalls the heyday of Hong Kong action cinema.
7. "Infernal Affairs" (2002)
This is the movie that basically revolutionised the age-old Hong Kong undercover genre into a whole new level. Suffice to say, "Infernal Affairs" is far from what we first saw in Ringo Lam and Chow Yun-Fat's 1987 seminal undercover cop drama, "City On Fire". The story about two police officers (Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) working as two opposing undercovers/moles with one working for the police and another one for the triad is no doubt the biggest novelty factor in this movie. In fact, Alan Mak and Felix Chong's then-innovative screenplay is so well-received that the story template itself has become a mass inspiration for countless like-minded Hong Kong movies and even a TVB series. The star-studded cast led by Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai are all ace, with Lau himself delivering one of his best performances in his career.
8. "Running On Karma" (2003)
You would remember Andy Lau and his cheesy-looking muscle suit in this movie, but Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai's award-winning "Running On Karma" happens to be an oddly fascinating genre movie that effectively blends action, kung fu, comedy and philosophical drama. Lau brings a nice balance of eccentric charm and emotional complexity to his otherwise flamboyant character as the ex-Buddhist monk turned male stripper, Big, a role that earned him his second Best Actor win at the 23rd Hong Kong Film Awards.
9. "House Of Flying Daggers" (2004)
The only non-modern entry in this list of best action movies played by Andy Lau, "House Of Flying Daggers" is a stylised martial art epic centering on a love triangle between Leo (Andy Lau), Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Mei (Zhang Ziyi). The highlight of the movie, of course, is the spectacular battle scene in the bamboo forest where Zhang Yimou pays his grand tribute to King Hu's "A Touch Of Zen".
10. "Firestorm" (2013)
At 52 years of age, Andy Lau shows little sign of slowing down or even restraint since he handles most of his own stunts in "Firestorm". Touted as Andy Lau's major comeback to his serious cop role since the "Infernal Affairs" trilogy, his physically-demanding performance as a dedicated senior police inspector is engaging. Chin Ka-Lok's action choreography during the gunfight and car crashes, in the meantime, is both tense and visceral.
Cinema Online, 15 April 2017
"Shock Wave" opens in cinemas nationwide on 20 April 2017.