With sterner social distancing measures being reintroduced in Hong Kong, life indoors can certainly feel boring and mundane, and that’s all without mentioning that the added uncertainty of the near future can incite a lot of negative thoughts. However, there is just one thing that can brighten up anyone’s day and that is watching some quirky, witty, and humorous Cantonese comedy films.
Names such as Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow, and the Hui brothers are synonymous with Hong Kong and its film industry and Cantonese comedies have always played an influential role in the history and development of Hong Kong cinema, nurturing a slew of prominent actors and directors for international fame. On that note, here are 10 Cantonese comedies available on Netflix Hong Kong right now that can brighten anyone’s day (not to mention inspire a well-deserved trip down memory lane for some others!).
From the comedic mastermind behind the incomparable Shaolin Soccer (2001), Kung Fu Hustle is Stephen Chow’s award-winning action-comedy flick and one of his most popular films to date. Set in 1940s Shanghai, the plot centres around a wannabe gangster named Sing, whose greatest aspiration is to join the notorious Axe Gang. In order to prove himself worthy, he tries to extort the inhabitants of a rundown settlement, and a series of misadventures ensues as the residents and their landlady exhibit extraordinary powers and kung fu talent in defending their turf.
Highly praised as one of Stephen Chow’s best films, Kung Fu Hustle didn’t just smash box office records in Hong Kong and around Asia; it was also one of the highest-grossing foreign-language films in the United States. It also features a number of retired actors famous for their involvement in 1970s Hong Kong action cinema and built upon the success of contemporary and influential wuxia films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero.
Confused about how a game of mahjong works? Hopefully, one viewing of Fat Choi Spirit will help enlighten you to the rules of this common, tile-based game. Yet another Hong Kong classic, this 2002 film is composed of great actors and facetious characters. Household names such as Andy Lau, Sean Lau Ching-wan, Gigi Leung, and Louis Koo bring nothing but laughter, smiles, and all the elements necessary for a light-hearted film.
Fat Choi Spirit follows the misfortunes of a mahjong master (Andy Lau) and his dealings with his girlfriend, estranged family, and a local gang. Disowned by his family for his impulsive mahjong habit, Andy meets a woman named Gigi while on the run from debt collectors. Her arrival heralds the start of a string of immense luck for Andy’s mahjong games, but just as he regains his legendary skills, everything else in his life seems to go wrong.
This offbeat local comedy from the late 1980s actually helped launch the careers of many iconic Hong Kong actors, including Chow Yun-fat, Eric Tsang, and Maggie Cheung. Chow Yun-fat plays Fred, a coarse mechanic recovering from a recent heartbreak. While on holiday, he falls in love with a beautiful girl named Tung (Maggie Cheung). Upon their return to Hong Kong, a wealthy bachelor takes an interest in Tung and Fred must fight to retain her affection. Due to an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience, The Romancing Star was followed by two sequels.
You may think that this film completely gives itself away as a goofy comedy centred around law enforcement, but this one comes with a crafty twist. Starring Stephen Chow and Bill Tung, Look Out, Officer! follows the adventures of a rookie cop named Hsing, who receives a visit from the ghost of Chang Piao, a slain police officer whose mysterious death had been written off as suicide. To solve his murder and seek justice, the unlikely duo team up, with the promise of finding Hsing a girlfriend and securing a job promotion in return for his help.
It goes without saying that the 1990s were truly phenomenal for Stephen Chow, who comes out with yet another classic, thigh-slapping film to add to his belt. Love on Delivery is a romantic comedy that features Stephen Chow and his frequent collaborator Ng Man-tat, as well as then-newcomer Christy Chung. In the film, Ang Ho-kam is a disadvantaged but kind dim-sum delivery boy who falls for a beautiful judo student, Lily. Their first date is interrupted by Black Bear, a judo master and bully who also takes an interest in Lily, and it ends disastrously. In order to prove himself worthy to his love interest, the delivery boy learns kung fu from an ageing master so he can challenge his archrival to a fight.
Royal Tramp is a 1992 film based on a novel called The Deer and the Cauldron by Louis Cha. The film is directed by Wong Jing and features many famous acting veterans such as Stephen Chow, Sharla Cheung, Ng Man-tat, and Sandra Ng. The story revolves around Wai Siu-bo, a bard known for his quick wit and tall stories. One day, he saves Chan Kan-nam, the leader of the revolutionary Heaven and Earth Society, and is made an honorary member of the group. After a botched first assignment for the group, Wai Siu-bo is made a servant to the Prince, the very person that the Heaven and Earth Society wants to overthrow. What follows is an abundance of mayhem and laughter.
This late 1980s comedy is filled with action-packed and rip-roaring scenes with one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated actors—Chow Yun-fat. God of Gamblers centres around Ko Chun, a chocolate-loving master gambler who is so renowned and talented that he is referred to as the “God of Gamblers.” One night, he accidentally stumbles into a trap laid by mediocre gambler Little Knife (Andy Lau) that was intended for someone else, losing his memory in the process. Not knowing the true identity of Ko Chun, Knife and his gang of amateur street hustlers discover his supernatural gambling abilities and take advantage of them. God of Gamblers found so much success that a slew of sequels followed, starring the likes of Stephen Chow and a returning cast padded out by Andy Lau, Ng Man-tat, Sharla Cheung.
For all Japanese manga and anime lovers out there, this film is just the right fit for you. Based on the Japanese manga of the same name, Jackie Chan plays Ryu Saeba, part detective, part mercenary, and a full-time womaniser. With his bumbling assistant Kaori, Ryu is asked by newspaper tycoon Imamura to return his beautiful runaway daughter, Shizuko. Ryu and Kaori somehow make their way onto a cruise ship, whose guests include Shizuko and a motley band of hijackers. In a bumbling yet impressive way that only Jackie Chan can portray, Ryu manages to spoil the cruise for the thieves with the help of more beautiful women than even he can handle.
We dove deep into the 1980s for this one: Project A is one of Jackie Chan’s earlier films that paved the way for his enduring career. Set in nineteenth-century Hong Kong when the city was still a British colony, the story centres around Dragon Ma, a lieutenant in the Hong Kong Marines. Pirates have been terrorising local waters with assistance from corrupt authorities and Dragon Ma hopes to defeat the evil pirate clan led by San-po. His initial plan is waylaid but Ma then joins forces with a navy admiral, a police captain, and a wily thief in a new round of high-seas battles with San-po and his gang.
Last but not least, this R-rated comedy may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it sure hits the spot if you are looking for some dark and obscure humour. SDU: Sex Duties Unit is about four Hong Kong police officers that embark on an illegal trip to Macau to satisfy their fantasies for a night, but things don’t quite go as they expected, and the group finds themselves embroiled in a weekend of unadulterated debauchery. Led by local comic heavyweight Chapman To, the strong synergy of the main cast creates a fun and exciting film, featuring four likeable leads and a sincere attempt to shine a spotlight on each of their unique and compelling stories.