• From left: Let the Bullets Fly, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ash Is Purest White, Kung Fu Hustle (SBS Movies)
A collection of sweeping Asian movie epics to ring in the Lunar New Year at SBS On Demand.
By
SBS Movies

23 Jan 2020 - 11:37 AM  UPDATED 23 Jan 2020 - 4:55 PM

Painstaking historical recreation, rousing battle sequences, political intrigue and espionage, martial arts action, intimate human drama and slapstick comedy, from legendary directors John Woo, Ang Lee, Jia Zhangke, Ann Hui and featuring superstars Jackie Chan, Shu Qi, Zhang Ziyi, Chow Yun-Fat, Chang Chen and Zhao Tao... all this and more in this collection of Asian epics now streaming at SBS On Demand, in celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

M
Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, China, 2000
Genre: Martial Arts, Drama, Romance
Language: Mandarin
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, Chen Chang
What's it about?
When a politician's daughter steals a legendary warrior's precious sword, a sequence of events is triggered to recover the sword, which leads to a deadly encounter with the thief's witch-like minder. From renowned director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), the film received four Academy Awards in 2001, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon review (by Margaret Pomeranz for The Movie Show, 2001)

Red Cliff - Part 1

M
China, 2008
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Action
Language: Mandarin
Director: John Woo
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chiling Lin
What's it about?
An epic film based on the legendary Battle of Red Cliff, in which a force of 50,000 defeated an army of nearly 1 million. In the final days of the Han Dynasty,  a shrewd convinced the fickle Emperor that the only way to unite all of China was to declare war on the kingdoms of Xu in the west and East Wu in the south. Thus began a military campaign of unprecedented scale. From legendary Hong Kong action director John Woo (Hard-Boiled, Face-Off).

Red Cliff - Part 2

M
China, 2008
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Action
Language: Mandarin
Director: John Woo
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chiling Lin
What's it about?
The battle of Red Cliff continues and the alliance between Xu and East Wu is fracturing. With Cao Cao's massive forces on their doorstep, will the kingdoms of Xu and East Wu survive?

Ash Is Purest White

MA15+
China, 2018
Genre: Crime, Romance, Drama
Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Director: Jia Zhangke
Starring: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan, Feng Xiaogang, Xu Zheng
What's it about?
Qiao (Zhao) is in love with Bin (Fan), a big time mobster in a small provincial town. Despite the dangers of the criminal underworld, Qiao rests easy with the protection provided by the mob’s brotherhood. However, when a rival gang attacks, Qiao steps up to protect Bin. Her act of loyalty sends her to prison for five years. From acclaimed director Jia Zhangke (A Touch of Sin, Platform).

Ash is Purest White review: Love smoulders, crime pays
Jia Zhangke at SBS On Demand

Kung Fu Hustle

M
China, 2004
Genre: Comedy, Action
Language: Cantonese
Director: Stephen Chow
Starring: Stephen Chow, Feng Xiaogang, Wah Yuen, Zhi Hua Dong, Kwok-Kwan Chan
What's it about?
In a Shanghai slum nicknamed Pig Sty Alley, residents and business owners cower in the presence of a cruel landlady (Yuen Qiu), but at least take comfort from the fact that their poverty-stricken neighbourhood is largely left alone by the city's criminal gangs. All that changes when the notorious Axe Gang muscles in and begins a war that looks to have only one possible outcome. Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Movie Show reviews Kung Fu Hustle - 4.5 stars each (2005, Episode 27)

Our Time Will Come

M
China, Hong Kong, 2017
Genre: Drama, History
Language: Chinese
Director: Ann Hui
Starring: Xun Zhou, Eddie Peng, Wallace Huo, Tony Leung Ka-Fai
What's it about?
1941. Hong Kong is under Japanese occupation. During the three-year-and-eight-month occupation, the Japanese military pillaged homes and arrested cultural figures living in Hong Kong. The anti-Japanese Dongjiang guerilla unit is tasked with rescuing these cultural figures and extracting them from the besieged city. The occupation transformed Hong Kong from a prosperous city into a barren land with no food or water. From Ann Hui, director of A Simple Life (2010).

'Our Time Will Come' leads Hong Kong Film Awards

Let the Bullets Fly

MA15+
China, Hong Kong, 2010
Genre: Action, Comedy
Language: Mandarin
Director: Jiang Wen
Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Carina Lau, Ge You, Jiang Wen, Feng Xiaogang
What's it about?
Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang (Jiang Wen) descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang (Feng Xiaogang), himself a small-time imposter. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang (Chow Yun-Fat) as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues.

Tribeca 2011: Let the Bullets Fly
Let the Bullets Fly Review

Till the End of the World

M
China, 2018
Genre: Romance, Drama, Adventure
Language: Mandarin
Director: Wu Youyin
Starring: Mark Chao, Yang Zishan, Anastasia Berestova, Jao Felipe, Sun Di
What's it about?
The unlikely pairing of a spoiled millionaire venture capitalist (Chao) scouting for extreme wedding tour locations and a grounded science photographer (Yang) en route to chronicle the Aurora Australis lights face the ultimate 75 day test for survival and redemption after their twin engine craft crashes during a debilitating snowstorm over the vast desolate nether-regions of Antarctica. Based on the novel by the same name by Wu.

The Five Venoms

M
Hong Kong, 1978
Genre: Action
Language: Mandarin
Director: Chang Cheh
Starring: Chiang Sheng, Philip Kwok Chun-Fung, Sun Chien, Lu Feng
What's it about?
A kung-fu student is instructed by his dying teacher to track down five of the teacher's ex-students. Each of the five is equipped with a lethal martial arts skill, and the teacher fears this might be used for evil purposes. However, not only does the teacher not know the identity of the students (who all wore masks under his training), but some of the students also don't know each other!

Armour of God

M
Hong Kong, 1986
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Language: Cantonese
Director: Jackie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, Alan Tam, Rosamund Kwan, Lola Forner
What's it about?
Former musician, Asian Hawk (Chan) and his bumbling sidekick are sent on a quest through Europe to find a mysterious treasure held by a shadowy organisation of monks.

Project A

M
Hong Kong, 1983
Genre: Action, Comedy, Adventure
Language: Cantonese, English
Director: Jackie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei
What's it about?
In late 19th Century Hong Kong the British may rule the land, but the pirates rule the waters. One Coast Guard officer is Dragon Ma, who is determined that his beloved Coast Guard will not be made a fool of.

The Nightingale

M
France, China, 2014
Genre: Drama
Language: Chinese
Director: Philippe Muyl
Starring: Li Baotian, Li Xiaoran, Qin Hao, Xin Yi Yang
What's it about?
Zhigen, an old Chinese farmer, has lived alone in Beijing for over 20 years after moving to the city to allow his son Chongyi to attend university. He decides to make the long journey from Beijing to Yangshuo to honour the promise he made to his wife to bring back the bird that has been his only companion in the city. 

The Spy Gone North

M
South Korea, 2018
Genre: Drama, Thriller, History
Language: Korean
Director: Yoon Jong-bin
Starring: Hwang Jung-min, Lee Sung-min, Cho Jin-woong, Ju Ji-hoon
What's it about?
This Cold War thriller focuses on a South Korean army major who poses as a businessman in order to infiltrate a North Korean nuclear facility in 1993, and gets caught in a political vortex plotted by the ruling classes of North and South Korea.

The Great Battle

MA15+
South Korea, 2018
Genre: History, Action, Drama, War
Language: Chinese, Korean
Director: Kim Kwang-sik
Starring: Jo In-sung, Nam Joo-hyuk, Park Sung-Woong, Bae Seong-woo
What's it about?
Kingdom of Goguryeo, ancient Korea, 645. The ruthless Emperor Taizong of Tang invades the country and leads his armies towards the capital, achieving one victory after another, but on his way is the stronghold of Ansi, protected by General Yang Man-chu, who will do everything possible to stop the invasion, even if his troops are outnumbered by thousands of enemies.

Mulan: Rise of a Warrior

M
China, 2009
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Action
Language: Chinese
Director: Jingle Ma
Starring: Zhao Wei, Chen Kun, Yu Rong-Guang
What's it about?
When barbarian hordes threaten her homeland, the brave and cunning Mulan (Zhao Wei) disguises herself as a male soldier to swell the ranks in her aging father's (Rong-guang Yu) stead. The warrior's remarkable courage drives her through powerful battle scenes and brutal wartime startegy. Mulan loses dear friends to the enemy's blade as she rises to become one of her country's most valuable leaders - but can she win the war before her secret is exposed?

The Assassin

PG
Taiwan, 2015
Genre: Martial Arts
Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Starring: Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Zhou Yun
What's it about?
An assassin (Shu Qi) accepts a dangerous mission to kill a political leader (Chang Chen) in eighth century China. Winner of Best Director at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival for Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Flight of the Red Balloon, Three Times).

The Assassin review: Fleeting battles make way for exquisitely beautiful, lingering shots

 

For a TV series with a similarly epic sweep, try the hit Chinese period drama The Longest Day in Chang’an; Season 1 now streaming at SBS On Demand:

The Longest Day in Chang’an: Season 1 Episode 1