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bhchao

Films of the late 1980s-1990s

Which of the following films have you seen and have a soft spot for?  

1 member has voted

  1. 1. Which of the following films have you seen and have a soft spot for?

    • A Better Tomorrow (1986) - 英雄本色
      4
    • Red Sorghum (1987) - 紅高梁
      1
    • A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) - 倩女幽魂
      3
    • Rouge (1987) - 胭脂扣
      3
    • As Tears Go By (1988) - 旺角卡門
      1
    • The Killer (1989)
      7
    • City of Sadness (1989) - 悲情城市
      0
    • God of Gamblers (1989) - 賭神
      3
    • Days of Being Wild (1990) - 阿飛正傳
      2
    • Ju Dou (1990) - 菊豆
      2
    • A Brighter Summer Day (1991) - 牯嶺街少年殺人事件
      2
    • Raise the Red Lantern (1991) - 大紅燈籠高高掛
      4
    • Once Upon a Time in China (1991) - 黃飛鴻
      2
    • Swordsman II (1991) - 笑傲江湖之東方不敗
      2
    • Once a Thief (1991) - 縱橫四海
      3
    • The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) - 秋菊打官司
      1
    • Hard Boiled (1992) - 辣手神探
      4
    • Centre Stage (1992) - 阮玲玉
      1
    • Farewell My Concubine (1993) - 霸王別姬
      4
    • The Blue Kite (1993) - 藍風箏
      2
    • The Wedding Banquet (1993)
      2
    • The Bride with White Hair (1993) - 白髮魔女傳
      1
    • Iron Monkey (1993)
      1
    • A Chinese Odyssey (1994) - 大話西遊
      3
    • To Live (1994) - 活着
      3
    • Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
      4
    • Chungking Express (1994) - 重慶森林
      10
    • Ashes of Time (1994)
      3
    • Fallen Angels (1995)
      3
    • Temptress Moon (1996)
      0
    • Comrades: Almost a Love Story (1996) - 甜蜜蜜
      1
    • Happy Together (1997) - 春光乍洩
      1
    • Good Fellas (1990)
      2
    • Dances with Wolves (1990)
      0
    • Miller's Crossing (1990)
      0
    • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
      2
    • My Own Private Idaho (1991)
      2
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
      4
    • Basic Instinct (1992)
      0
    • Unforgiven (1992)
      1
    • My Cousin Vinny (1992)
      2
    • Schindler's List (1993)
      4
    • The Fugitive (1993)
      0
    • Pulp Fiction (1994)
      7
    • Speed (1994)
      1
    • The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
      2
    • Ed Wood (1994)
      1
    • Hoop Dreams (1994)
      1
    • Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
      3
    • Braveheart (1995)
      2
    • Fargo (1996)
      3
    • LA Confidential (1997)
      3
    • The Ice Storm (1997)
      2
    • Good Will Hunting (1997)
      4
    • Face Off (1997)
      3
    • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
      7
    • The Sixth Sense (1999)
      4
    • The Matrix (1999)
      8


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bhchao

Which of the following films of the late 1980s-1990s have you seen, and are your personal favorites?

Edited by bhchao

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Outofin

Hmm, too many. (Why do we have to have a poll anyway?)

I'd rather to talk about actors I have a soft spot for. I feel a personal attachment to 周润发、成龙、周星驰. The feeling doesn't exist for other equally popular actors like 李连杰 and 刘德华.

I think that may be because the formers always blend their own image with the characters they play, and they play quite consistently. Eventually, they create something special and particular to them. I just like seeing them even off the screen. Of course I like Jet Li too but I don't really know what kind of person he is.

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bhchao
Hmm, too many. (Why do we have to have a poll anyway?)

I'd rather to talk about actors I have a soft spot for. I feel a personal attachment to 周润发、成龙、周星驰. The feeling doesn't exist for other equally popular actors like 李连杰 and 刘德华.

I think that may be because the formers always blend their own image with the characters they play, and they play quite consistently. Eventually, they create something special and particular to them. I just like seeing them even off the screen. Of course I like Jet Li too but I don't really know what kind of person he is.

Yes, probably too many. I was feeling nostalgic about the late 80s and early 1990s. :) That era was one of the best times for Chinese cinema, especially HK and Mainland films. Movies of this caliber don't exist today, which is why I consider the period from 2001-2009 the "Lost Decade" for films.

Among the actors of that era, I like 鞏俐, 周潤發, 張國榮, and 林青霞. I consider Lin's films from Taiwan to be mediocre, especially those love dramas she made with Chin Han. But her HK films were great.

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wushijiao
I was feeling nostalgic about the late 80s and early 1990s. That era was one of the best times for Chinese cinema, especially HK and Mainland films. Movies of this caliber don't exist today, which is why I consider the period from 2001-2009 the "Lost Decade" for films

I agree. I blame it mainly on CTHD. Ever since then, every director seems to try to make an action/magical dramatic epic set in Chinese minority area, with war scenes, bright clothes, terrible, pretentious, cheesy plots, and stifled acting. The hope (gamble) is that the movie might go big in a foreign audience and then make hundreds of millions of dollars. It's quite possibly the worst genre of film of all time, in any film industry. Of course, censorship concerns are one reason why this genre is made (even Feng Xiaogang said so in a 南方周末 interview).

A lot of the movies of the 80's and 90's (To Live, Farewell My Concubine, Eat Drink Man Woman) and many, many others had good stories about people.

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renzhe

to be honest, many people feel the same about Hollywood movies.

If you consider what masterpieces were made in the 70s (especially) and 80s, and compare them to modern Hollywood barf, it really is depressing.

This was the reason why I got interested in Asian cinema about 10 years ago, when Japan and Korea were bringing out some really cool stuff. I don't think they have the same vitality as, say, 6-7 years ago, but I haven't really been following too closely either.

But maybe I'm getting old and am falling into the "everything used to be better" trap :P

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Outofin

Why am I so not happy with the list? :x

If you didn't watch The Untouchables (1987), you're missing a masterpiece.

Al Pacino's Scent of a Woman was also really good. A bit too Al-Pacino, both good and bad.

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wushijiao
to be honest, many people feel the same about Hollywood movies.

I don't know. I tend to feel that while 90% of what Hollywood makes is crap, they still usually make quite a few really good movies per year. Nowadays, when we think of movies from a few decades ago, we only think of the great ones, not the other ones that have been forgotten by history.

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gato

Since the early 1980s -- since people attribute it to the success of Star Wars -- the big Hollywood studios have shifted their focus on the two most profitable genres of films: (1) big action and fantasy films primarily targeted towards boys in late teens and early twenties (many of these come out in the summer vacation months) and (2) global blockbusters with big stars and simple stories and dialogues that can easily understood or translated in countries that don't have English as a native language. The movies for adults, with cultural nuances that are harder for foreigners (and teenagers) to understand, are left to the smaller independent studios or smaller studios owned by the big studios (like Sony Classics or Fox Searchlight). Or they are left to television, which is cheaper to make and distribute, like the long-running series Law and Order and the HBO series like the Sopranos). Many of these are probably not as popular outside the US because they are harder to translate across cultures.

China's film industry and that of other countries, undoubtedly, as well, have been trying to emulate the Hollywood business model to make these global films, so you see Hero and Banquet, but they don't quite have the formula down yet.

The American movie market is still very vibrant, and it's relatively easy to find theaters that show smaller films, at least in the big cities. But in a China, where the theaters and film distribution is tightly controlled by the government, the small movies have no space and mostly cannot be found in the theaters. There are a lot of Chinese films that are seen by more people outside of China than in.

Anyway, I swore to stop watching Hollywood blockbusters after suffering through one of the Die Hard sequels in 1995 (might have been Die Hard 2 or 3).

There are still plenty of good movies made, even by Americans. Some of my favorites since the 1990s are:

American

- Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002) (directed by Alexander Payne)

- Out of Sight (1998 ) (directed by Steven Soderbergh)

- Goodfellas (1990) (directed by Martin Scorsese)

- The Thin Redline (1998 ) (directed by Terrance Malick)

- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich (1999) (both written by Charlie Kaufman)

- You Can Count on Me (2000) (directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan)

- Gosford Park (2001) (directed by Robert Altman)

Non-American

- Latana (2001), a great Australian film directed by Ray Lawrence

- Trainspotting (1996) (directed by Danny Boyle)

- 21 Grams (2003)

- Together (Tillsammans) (2000) (about life in a Swedish commune)

- My Favorite Season (Ma saison préférée) (1993)

- Emperor's Shadow (秦颂) (1996) (directed by Zhou Xiaowen 周晓文)

- All About Lili Chou-chou (Riri Shushu no subete) (2001) (directed by Shunji Iwai)

- Harmful Insect (Gaichu) (2001) (directed by Akihiko Shiota)

- Yi yi (一一) (2000) (directed by Edward Yang 杨德昌)

There was also a spurt of great documentaries in the early 2000s:

- The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), provocative interviews with McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War

- My Architect (2003), about the great architect Louis Kahn

- Capturing the Friedmans (2003), about the curious Friedman family

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renzhe
I don't know. I tend to feel that while 90% of what Hollywood makes is crap, they still usually make quite a few really good movies per year.

This is undeniable.

I still feel that the greatness-to-rubbish ratio has suffered much during the last few decades.

Even the good movies are often so cookie-cutter that I can't take it.

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bhchao
Anyway, I swore to stop watching Hollywood blockbusters after suffering through one of the Die Hard sequels in 1995 (might have been Die Hard 2 or 3).

After watching John Woo's The Killer, I don't have interest in watching Hollywood action flicks again.

Most Hollywood blockbusters are brainless, random violence movies with muscle-bound, alpha male characters. The protagonist and antagonist are caricatured as either good or bad. Most plots in these blockbusters lack rich emotional context. Also, the actors in these movies express themselves in unintelligent, extroverted ways. An example is Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai.

The Killer in contrast is rich in emotional context. The story doesn't set the line between black and white when it comes to the main characters. Instead it reflects reality better than the typical Hollywood action flick, because it more accurately depicts human nature. There is no depiction of good versus evil in relation to the two opposing characters. Actors like Chow Yun-fat are able to express their emotions in indirect, subtle ways (like through their eyes or facial expression), allowing the audience to identify with the character on a emotional level.

The Killer is better than a million Die Hard movies. One reason why I liked The Killer is the gradual development of 人情, or human reciprocity, between Chow Yun Fat and the police detective. The ending showed how personal feelings can conquer rationality and "moral expectations" of one's job requirements. What the police detective did to the Triad boss at the end, even though his job requirements forbid him to do that, shows the power of human nature over ethical expectations.

A case in point is the recent housing bubble. People acted on their human nature, their self-interest and greed, when the moment presented itself, despite that doing so would damage their ability to repay their loans.

There were a few exceptions in Hollywood during the 90s when it came to action thrillers. The Fugitive was a smart thriller. Heat, starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, did not accentuate the "good versus evil" divide between two main characters. I think the director was trying to emulate The Killer.

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wushijiao
Most Hollywood blockbusters are brainless, random violence movies with muscle-bound, alpha male characters. The protagonist and antagonist are caricatured as either good or bad. Most plots in these blockbusters lack rich emotional context. Also, the actors in these movies express themselves in unintelligent, extroverted ways.

Are you sure? I thought the most recent Rambo (2008 ) provided a insightful and nuanced approach for understanding the complex dynamics of inter-ethnic conflict, and the relationship between the nation-states - who consume the majority of attention in current international relations research- on the one hand, and the ever proliferating non-traditional security providers on the other hand.

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renzhe

Yes, but Rambo (2008 ), like 50% of today's Hollywood movies, is a remake of a great movie from the early 80s.

Hollywood is running out of ideas, that's why they're recycling so much. Same with the music industry. This is what happens when you turn a creative process into manufacturing :(

I still remember going to the cinema to watch "Bad Boys II". I only expected mindless entertainment, nothing great. But that was the biggest pile of crap I had ever seen. And at the end, people clapped?!?

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skylee

bhchao, thanks so much for praising the Killer. It is one of my favourite movies. It used to be my favourite film when I was younger. In case you forget, the actor playing the police officer is called 李修賢.

I liked "Heat" too. I think I like many of Michael Mann's films.

I would love to be surprised by very exciting films but they are few and far between. I think recent films that I've found exciting include 竊聽風雲, the korean film "Oldboy", "Eastern Promises" and "Seven" (only that it is not so recent haha).

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renzhe
I liked "Heat" too. I think I like many of Michael Mann's films.

I agree. His movies are awesome.

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skylee

But actually I think I just liked Robert de Niro (back then) and his minimalist flat in the film. Haha. :oops:

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wushijiao
Yes, but Rambo (2008 ), like 50% of today's Hollywood movies, is a remake of a great movie from the early 80s.

Actually, I was completely joking. :D

Anyway, I also loved "Heat", and Deniro in that movie. By the way, I showed that movie to around 20 college students in Henan back in 2001, and all but one or two walked out claiming that they had "something else to do" (because they were bored to tears).

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skylee

So you know you are getting old ... when you like "Heat" and your students don't. :mrgreen:

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wushijiao
So you know you are getting old ... when you like "Heat" and your students don't.

Yes, I don't know what kind of motion pictures these fancy young whippersnappers all like these days! Hehe...

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gato

It's a cultural translation problem, I think. It's like Seinfeld not being nearly as popularly globally as Friends.

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