Top 10 Most Popular Best Chinese Movies of All Time

Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Most Popular Best Chinese Movies of All Time till 2017. Over the years Chinese films have been released. Some have been made available to American audiences, with subtitles. This is the way such famous actors, such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and others have gotten famous, and ended up in American movies. In this post I will look back at ten examples of Chinese box office hits that have ended up making history in China because of how many tickets they sold, as well as at least one that didn’t experience that much success during its original run.

List of Top 10 Most Popular Best Chinese Movies of All Time till 2017

10. Ashes of Time

Ashes of Time Top Most Popular Chinese Movies of All Time 2018

This is a 1994 Wuxia film by filmmaker Wong kar Wai. It was orignially taken from taken from a famous novel by a novelist named Jin Yong. Director Wong switched around a lot of material from the book, only choosing to use the names of the characters of the book to create a totally different movie. Box office success was disappointing, perhaps in part due to the disappointment of the people who reviewed the movie hoping to see a plot to a movie made from a book. The time was reduced from 100 to 93 minutes, and it featured the late Leslie Cheung as Ouyang feng, the Venomous West. He passed away on April 1, 2003, at age 46.

9. Brighter Summer Day

Brighter Summer Day Top Most Chinese Movies of All Time 2019

This is a Taiwanese film directed by Edward Yang. Based on a true story about a crime committed by a Taiwanese youth, who falls in love with a girl that he later kills. No one seems to understand why he does this terrible deed. Set in 1960s Taiwan, it’s a long film lasting four hours, released in 1991. This is a boy who experiences love, injustice, and friendship for the first time in Taiwan as a teenager. Run time is 4 hours.

8. Street Angel


This is a 1930s movie, coming out in the summer of ’37 to be exact. It features one of the popular singers of the day, Zhou Xuan, in the lead role. It tells the story of a group of friends in Old Shanghai, displaying the dark side of the ghetto areas of the 1930s. It’s well known for its innovative use of music, with its unique mix of melodrama and comedy. It is shorter than the one at #9, with a run time of only an hour and 27 minutes.

7. A Touch of Zen

A Touch of Zen Top Most Famous Chinese Movies of All Time 2018

This early 1970s Taiwan film, presented by King Hu, is based on a story by Pu Songling’s book, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. According to the China Whisper website, it won technical grand prize award at Cannes, a respected international movie festival. It was definitely a high honor for a film of its time.

The story is told from the point of view of a boy named Ku–a well-meaning but unambitious scholar. He sleeps with the heroine of the story, Yang, impregnating her. They give birth to a son. She runs away to a monastery, wanting nothing further to do with the boy. He insists on finding her. She ends the relationship, saying that the relationship part of their lives has come to an end. She gives their son up to him. On a historical note–the film features a very young Jackie Chan as a stuntman.

6. A Better Tomorrow

A Better Tomorrow Top 10 Best Chinese Movies of All Time 2017

This is a 1986 crime film directed by John Woo, The film features famous stars of Chinese cinema, Leslie Cheung, and Chow Yun-Fat. It became a box office hit in Hong Kong, as well as other countries. The film involves two brothers–one who has opted for a life of crime–printing counterfeit bank notes, to be specific–and one who is studying for the police force. Their father is kidnapped, and subsequently killed. The father begs for the police officer brother, Kit, to forgive his brother, Ho. Ho goes to prison, serves his time, and gets out, becoming a cab driver, wanting to escape the life of crime he was formerly in. In the end, the brothers reconcile, hence the title of the story. The title does live up to his name, mainly because the brother makes a turnaround, and the two main characters–brothers–reconcile in the end. This is one of the Top 10 Most Popular Best Chinese Movies of All Time till 2017.

5. Farewell My Concubine

Farewell My Concubine Top 10 Best Chinese Movies of All Time

This is a 1993 Chinese film directed by Chen Kaye whose plot revolves around mid 20th century China, the changes that are taking place, starting in the 1930s with the Japanese invasion of the country, to the Communist takeover of China and Mao Tse-tung’s rise to power in the late 40s. According to Wikipedia, this film was the only totally Chinese language film to win a Cannes Palme d’Or. This record still stands to this day, according to Wikipedia. By the way, the late Leslie Cheung was used as bait for this film because until this day, the melodrama remains not to be a very popular genre, particularly in China.

4. A City of Sadness

A City of Sadness Top Best Chinese Movies of All Time 2017

This 1989 movie is set in Taiwan. It was Bbased on the tragedy of the April 12, 1927 White Terror, or Shanghai Massacre, in which the Kuomintang government rebelled against the rise of Communism. According to the Wikipedia website, it won a Golden Lion award for best picture, at the Venice Film Festival, an indeed prestigious event.

3. Yellow Earth


This is a Chinese drama film from 1984, the directing debut of Chen Kaige, which also introduced Zhang Yimou, who went on to experience success as an international film director later on. This motion picture came in Number 4 on the Top 100 Chinese Films of all time at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards. This movie is at number 3 here in part because of that high honor, and because two internationally known directors shot to fame through the popularity of this film.

2. Days of Being Wild

Days of Being Wild Top Famous Chinese Movies of All Time 2019

This is a romance movie dated 1990, directed by Wong Kar-wan, featuring several well-known Chinese faces, such as Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau, Carna Lau along with many others. It ranked third on the aforementioned Best 100 motion pictures, at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards, and is definitely worthy of an honorable mention on this list.

1. Spring in a Small Town


This movie’s storied history has earned it a Number One spot in this countdown. This is the second remake of this venerated story that involves old liovers. It dates back to the 40s–1948 to be exact, the date of the original. It is an adaptation of a short story written by Li Tiangi. It was remade 54 years later, at the dawn of the 21st Century. It opened in Venice in September of 2002, the United Kingdom a year later, and in 2003 in the United States. It involved Zhang and Yumen, old lovers who reunited after 10 years. This reunion is further complicated because the woman is now married to a man who happens to be sickly. Ligan begs Zhang to stay, knowing what is going on between them, yet sensing that he can no longer care for his wife due to his illness. Zhang, feeling that what he is doing is wrong, instead decides to bow out.

These are the Top 10 Most Popular Best Chinese Movies of All Time till 2017. While there are many films that deserve to be on this list, this list includes those that, for some reason, the authorities in the industry, gave a high honor to. Indeed, Chinese cinema has a storied past, and one that has impacted American movie history as well. Think of giants as Jackie Chan as a salient example of such an actor that got his start in Chinese cinema.