If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Just like my blog this is really more like a top list of Asian and/or fight-film list. I've branched out rather liberally from the "kung-fu" genre. There are plenty of movies I haven't seen yet that could possibly make the list. For some reason it seems like a glut of the films that I'm eager to consider for this list come out in the last quarter of the year. I still haven't seen Flowers of War, The Kick, Harakiri, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, not to mention some of the under the radar films that can turn out to be awesome. Also, if you're wondering where something is, keep in mind that these are 2011 domestic release films, not international release. I've seen "I Saw the Devil", "Yellow Sea", "13 Assassins", "Detective Dee" and "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" all on 2011 best of lists despite their 2010 release dates.
Speaking of which I had seen 27 movies from 2010 when I put together my top list for last year. Now I've seen nearly fifty including most of the critically acclaimed films and understandably my list has changed quite a bit. So before we get going on this year I present my new and improved Top 10 list for 2010. Considering a few of these still haven't received an international release yet, you should keep your eyes out for them.
10. The Gallants
9. Ip Man 2
8. Little Big Soldier
5. Bangkok Knockout
4. The Man From Nowhere
3. Let the Bullets Fly
2. Reign of Assassins
1. I Saw the Devil
Here is the list of 29 movies I've seen from this year (in alphabetical order):
Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon -- A Chinese Fairy Tale -- Choy Lee Fut -- Detective K and the Secret of the Virtuous Widow -- Don't Go Breaking my Heart -- The Front Line -- Head -- I am a Dad -- Kung Fu Panda 2 -- The Land with No Boundary -- The Lost Bladesman -- Moby Dick -- Mural -- My Kingdom -- My Own Swordsman -- Oba: The Last Samurai -- Officer of the Year -- Poonsang -- Punished -- Quick -- Sector 7 -- Showdown -- The Sorcerer and the White Snake -- Tomorrow's Joe -- Treasure Inn -- The Warring States -- Warrior -- The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake -- Wu Xia
Top 10 Films of 2011
10. My Kingdom
This soap opera drama surrounding the Peking/Beijing Opera House at the turn of the century is a bit uneven but it's got great fights choreographed my Sammo Hung and some really fantastic Chinese Opera sequences.
This Johnnie To produced revenge thriller was masterfully crafted with an excellent dramatic performance by Anthony Wong and some serious badassery from Richie Ren
This was a sweet fairy tale if you're like me and have a soft spot for this type of story, and although a bit meandering at times it is really fun and likable.
7. Kung Fu Panda 2
I'm glad to see the Americanized Kung-Fu worked this beautifully with tight fun choreography and comedy. This is an all around great kids film
6. Moby Dick
This surprisingly gripping conspiracy thriller is better crafted than any western conspiracy thriller I've seen in quite a while. Clever and likable heroes drive the suspense and the action straight till the credits.
5. Wu Xia (aka Dragon)
This film is like a hard-boiled wuxia mystery and the mash up of genre's worked fantastically. It's beautifully filmed and has some seriously entertaining fight sequences near the end.
4. The Front Line
This Korean war film addresses the misery of war and includes some great "war stories" that go beyond the simple "war is hell" motif.
3. The Lost Bladesman
It's been a great year for Donnie Yen. This is maybe the best "Three Kingdoms" movie I've ever seen. It has a straight forward story that's not bogged down by long dry political scenes and some kick ass fights with the guan dao.
2. Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon (aka War of Arrows)
One archer dismantles seemingly the entire Manchurian army and despite the film being nearly entirely fast paced action this film delivers clear character motivations and a story arc.
This MMA fight film has more character drama than some of the most critically acclaimed boxing films, and then also better fights. It's completely engrossing. And one of the best films of the year, no matter what you're comparing it to.
Last year I also included a list of my top ten fights of the year. This year however has been pretty light on martial arts. It was the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution and not only were there large budget films made to commemorate it, but a bunch of the medium budget films that are normally martial arts movies with up-and-coming martial artists were historical/propaganda films... or fantasy-- there was a lot of fantasy this year. So I'm putting off my Top 10 fights of 2011 until next year when I post my revised Top Ten Films of 2011 list... and maybe by then there will be some youtube clips of the fights for me to link.