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Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei

The best Chinese New Year movies

We're not just binging on pineapple tarts and bak kwa. Here are the films to binge-watch this Chinese New Year

Written by
Time Out editors
&
Cam Khalid
Contributor
Cheryl Sekkappan
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Forget your usual tub of sweet and salted popcorn and grab some bak kwa and pineapple tarts. It's time to kick it with the good old Chinese classics, the hottest Hollywood blockbusters and even some light-hearted Singapore titles this Chinese New Year. Here are the ones we're binge-watching this festive season.

RECOMMENDED: The best Singapore films to watch and the best upcoming movies in Singapore

Mahjong Heroes
Photograph: Netflix

Mahjong Heroes

Mahjong Heroes has got a little bit for everyone – gripping car chases, hard and fast fist fights, a sprinkling of comedy, and of course, lots of mahjong. This Hong Kong film from the 80s follows our hero as he helps a young student to take on a malicious gambling tycoon who's trying to steal the family business. Watch as these characters engage in psychological warfare and flaunt fancy mahjong moves in a high-stakes contest. Whether you know how to play mahjong or not, Mahjong Heroes will have you on the edge of your seat. And maybe, you'll even pick up some useful mahjong tricks. 

Available on Netflix

God of Gamblers 2
Photograph: Netflix

God of Gamblers 2

Andy Lau, Stephen Chow and Ng Man-tat join forces in God of Gamblers 2, a sharply comedic and action-packed film that plays as a sequal to both God of Gamblers and its parody All for the Winner. In this 1990s flick, we follow the Chow Sing Cho (Chow), who's seeking out the God of Gamblers to become his disciple. He instead finds the Knight of the Gamblers (Lau), and the Uncle Tat (Ng), and gets pulled into a chase after a crime boss who's impersonating the God of Gamblers in order to earn millions. Considered a launchpad for actor Stephen Chow into action-ccomedy greatness, this is an iconic film that the whole family can enjoy this Chinese New Year. 

Available on Netflix

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Wish Dragon
Photograph: Netflix

Wish Dragon

This one's for the young ones. Wish Dragon is a charming and quirky tale about the teenaged Din (Jimmy Wong), who's longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend and partner-in-crime Li Na (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Where things get fantastical is when Din comes across a cynical, wish-granting, flying dragon in a teapot – unlocking rollicking adventures across Shanghai that teach both about friendship, love and connection. 

Available on Netflix

Kung Fu Panda
Photograph: Netflix

Kung Fu Panda

Catch our favourite animated hero Kung Panda 1, 2 and 3 on Netflix this Chinese New Year. This feel-good movie is packed to the brim with well-defined characters, good laughs and energetic action sequences. From pudgey Po's zero-to-hero story in the first movie to him leading his little disciples against the supernatural warrior Kai in the third film, this is one feel-good villain arc that'll keep the family glued to the screen for Chinese New Year. 

Available on Netflix

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All’s Well, Ends Well

All’s Well, Ends Well

Name a better CNY classic, we'll wait. Whether you rate it or hate it, this Hong Kong comedy continues to live on as one of the best Lunar New Year films to dominate the screens. And what's not to enjoy – this Hong Kong cult classic is jam-packed with good-natured humour, slapstick comedy and scripts that will leave you in stitches. It follows three brothers, played by Stephen Chow, Raymond Wong and Francis Ng as they try to win the hearts of their partners and their parents. The film is followed by six more sequels.

Enter the Dragon
  • Film

The 70s was a major year for all things kung fu. You can say that – in the words of Carl Douglas – "everybody was kung fu fighting." Adding to the mix is the quintessential Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. It tacks together the exploits of a multi-national crew of martial artists converging in Hong Kong for a tournament, infiltrated by Lee – fresh from his Shaolin temple – on an assignment to bust an opium racket. Worth watching Bruce Lee for his killer stunts, this James Bond-meet-Fu Manchu film is also considered to be one of the greatest martial arts films of all time.

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Ip Man
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Yip Wai-shun’s biopic about Bruce Lee’s martial arts mentor takes plenty of liberties with the facts but none that can’t be forgiven in the name of kungfu kickin’ fun. It tells the story of Ip Man, the martial arts master of the title and his early life in the city of Foshan while under the Japanese occupation. Watch for the crisp cinematography and engaging ‘Seven Samurai’-style storyline, but it’s Sammo Hung’s superbly choreographed fight scenes that will leave you awestruck.

Available on Netflix

Kung Fu Hustle
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Nobody makes films quite like Stephen Chow. The director-actor-writer-producer cleverly mixes imaginative martial arts combat with broad comedy, and finds a balance somewhere between the po-faced art of Hero and the gurning slapstick of Jackie Chan. Kung Fu Hustle is pretty much an extended fight between the evil Axe Gang and a community of peasants who unwittingly harbour a trio of martial arts legends, with Chow’s own hapless character caught in the middle.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

A rich, romantic take on the wuxia, China's heroic swordsman genre, from the eclectic Ang Lee. The martial arts title trails a warrior, played by Chow Yun-Fat, who surrenders his sword to his lover, played by Michelle Yeoh, for safe-keeping. The chase is on when he discovers that the sword is stolen and the search brings him to the House of Yu where the plot thickens. Even if you're not here for the storyline, watch for the most beautifully choreographed fight scene between Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh.

Shaolin Soccer
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Coming on with extreme silliness and a plethora of goodwill, Shaolin Soccer is the kung fu-football comedy crossover from Stephen Chow's repertoire that should be in your CNY film list. Cocking a snook at the sober beauty of Hero and the cod-profundity of The Matrix, this is cinema at its most outrageously enjoyable. The plot is minimalism itself: a group of shaolin monks gone to seed are called into training by a former pro to take on the all-conquering Team Evil in the National Soccer Cup. You could call it a guilty pleasure, but that would suggest you feel bad about enjoying yourself.

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Mulan
  • Film
  • Animation

You know all the lyrics to Reflection and I'll Make a Man Out of You, so can really say no to this Disney classic?  A must watch in our books, Mulan tells the story of a feisty young go-getter rises above the male-dominated world in which she lives to survive the perils of war and, eventually, to bring honour to her family. Using richly hued, angular animation, this vibrant, action-filled Disney offering is immensely entertaining. The script is mostly drum-tight and brimming with gags – there's even some amusing but sensitively illustrated play on the complexities of Oriental religious customs. 

Crazy Rich Asians
  • Film
  • Comedy

It's the Hollywood blockbuster of 2018 – and one that puts Singapore on the map. Based on Singaporean author Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a woman who travels to Singapore to meet with her boyfriend's family for the very first time – and they're nothing like what she expects them to be. Starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding, the movie takes a peek into the extra lavish and glitzy lives of, well, crazy rich Asians.

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Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei

Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei

CNY isn't complete without a Jack Neo flick. This Lunar New Year comedy sees the return of Liang Xi Mei, spending her retirement looking after her grandchildren. She favours her youngest – and more reliable – son Albert over her eldest Robert who's always has something up his sleeves to fulfill his get-rich-quick schemes. In order to seek his mum's approval, Robert seeks the help of the God of Fortune and things start spiraling out of control.

881

881

Helmed by one of Singapore's biggest filmmakers, Royston Tan, 881 is a musical comedy based on the Getai scene here. Embark on an adventure with two good friends who grew up with the Getai culture. After coming across the Getai Goddess, the two become the country's most popular Getai performers, better known as the Papayas. However, the heat is up when their main competitors, the green-eyed the Durian Sisters, get in their way.

 

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One Cup, A Thousand Stories
Photograph: BBC

One Cup, A Thousand Stories

Bonus

This BBC landmark series is not a movie that's for sure, but it's nevertheless a beautiful series fit for the occasion. One Cup, A Thousand Stories takes us through the story of 'the drink that changed the world' – tea. Over six episodes, you'll learn how this unassuming drink has influenced cultures and beliefs all over the world, and its role in building a more sustainable future. On February 6, watch all episode back-to-back from 2.40pm to 8.10pm for an immersive, movie-like experience. 

Available on StarHub channel 407 and BBC Player 

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