• Gabe Powers

Grinding the Stream: Chinese/Hong Kong Cult Cinema

Updated: May 11

Are you self isolating? Are you thinking about broadening your cinematic horizons? Perhaps you’d like to learn about a specific genre? I’m here to help. This time, we're moving east from Italy to China and Hong Kong for a look at some of the best martial arts, action, horror, and cult titles available to stream RIGHT NOW. I'm sticking to the '60s through '90s period, simply because I'm not nearly as well-versed in modern Chinese/HK movies. As such, I'm pretty disappointed with the lack of late '80s/'90s HK movies available on any format, other than OOP DVD.


Netflix and Hulu were actually helpful this time, but Amazon Prime still has a healthier selection, along with various free streaming services available via Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, et cetera. I compared a bunch and, for the sake of simplicity, I found the best in terms of content and video quality to be Tubi, Midnight Pulp (a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply), VUDU’s free selections, The Roku Channel, Shout Factory TV (though most of their titles can also be watched via Amazon Prime), Popcorn Flix, and Dark Matter TV (again, a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply). And, of course, who can forget smaller, but no less important paid services, namely Criterion Channel, Fandor, and Shudder.


Again, be warned – all of the free apps have ad breaks (I know, it sucks) and the video quality is inconsistent from app to app. Sometimes it's genuine HD, other times, it's sub-VHS. Apologies if I’ve suggested something with particularly grim A/V quality and be aware that the availability is based on the research I did on March 23rd, 2020. Given the nature of streaming media, I imagine very few of these titles will be available in perpetuity. Be aware that, despite my classifications below, complete director filmographies are not currently available free/subscription streaming.



King Hu Movies

  • Come Drink with Me (1966) – Amazon Prime

  • Dragon Inn (1967) – Criterion Channel

  • Touch of Zen (1971) – Criterion Channel


Liu Chia-Liang Movies

  • The Spiritual Boxer (1975) – Amazon Prime

  • The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Shaolin Mantis (1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Dirty Ho (1979) – Amazon Prime

  • Heroes of the East (1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Return to the 36th Chamber (1980) – Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • Legendary Weapons of China (1982) – Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) – Amazon Prime

  • Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1985) – Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986) – Netflix and Amazon Prime


Chang Cheh Movies

  • The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • The Assassin (1967) – Amazon Prime

  • Golden Swallow (1968) – Amazon Prime

  • The Duel (1971) – Amazon Prime

  • The Deadly Duo (1971) – Amazon Prime

  • The Five Deadly Venoms (aka: The Five Venoms, 1978) – Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • Kid with the Golden Arm (1979) – Amazon Prime

  • Masked Avengers (1981) – Amazon Prime

  • Five Element Ninjas (1982) – Netflix and Amazon Prime


Other Shaw Bros. Classics

There are so many of these available, so I’ve narrowed it down to personal favorites.

  • The Flying Guillotine (Ho Meng-Hua, 1975) – Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • Master of the Flying Guillotine (Jimmy Wang Yu, 1976) – Amazon Prime

  • The Battle Wizard (Pao Hsueh-Li, 1977) – Amazon Prime

  • Black Magic (Ho Meng-Hua, 1975) – Amazon Prime (horror film)

  • Human Lanterns (Sun Chung, 1982) – Amazon Prime (horror film)

  • The One-Armed Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu, 1972) – Midnight Pulp

  • Five Fingers of Death (Jeong Chang-hwa, 1972) – Amazon Prime



Jackie Chan Movies (Hong Kong Era)

  • Fearless Hyena (Jackie Chan and Kenneth Tsang, 1979) – Amazon Prime

  • The Young Master (Jackie Chan, 1980) – Amazon Prime

  • Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) – Criterion Channel

  • Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) – Criterion Channel

  • The Protector (James Glickenhaus, 1985) – Tubi

  • Heart of the Dragon (Sammo Hung, 1985) – Amazon Prime

  • City Hunter (Wong Jing, 1993) – Amazon Prime


Sammo Hung (directed) Movies

  • The Iron-Fisted Monk (1977) – Amazon Prime

  • Magnificent Butcher (co-directed with Yuen Woo-ping, 1979) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Knockabout (1979) – Midnight Pulp

  • The Prodigal Son (1981) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Wheels on Meals (1984) – Amazon Prime

  • My Lucky Stars (1985) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Heart of the Dragon (1985) – Amazon Prime

  • Eastern Condors (1987) – Midnight Pulp


Yuen Woo-ping Movies

  • The Bloody Fists (Ng See-Yuen director, Yuen choreographer, 1972) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Born Invincible (Joseph Kuo director, Yuen choreographer) 1978 – Amazon Prime

  • Magnificent Butcher (co-directed with Sammo Hung, 1979) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Dreadnaught (1981) – Midnight Pulp

  • The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-wai director, Yuen choreographer, 2013) – Netflix

  • The Thousand Faces of Dunjia (2017) – Hulu



Other Horror, Fantasy, and Cult Titles

  • The Oily Maniac (Ho Meng-Hua, 1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Last Hurrah for Chivalry (John Woo, 1979) – Criterion Channel

  • Witch from Nepal (Ching Siu-Tung, 1986) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • The Seventh Curse (Lam Nai-Choi, 1986) – Midnight Pulp

  • Magnificent Warriors (David Chun, 1987) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (Lam Nai-Choi, 1991) – Tubi

  • Sex and Zen (Michael Mak, 1991) – Midnight Pulp +

  • Full Contact (Ringo Lam, 1992) – Fandor

  • Future Cops (aka: Super School Overlord; Wong Jing, 1993) – Midnight Pulp (MUST SEE action comedy satire of The Terminator featuring superstar actors as Street Fighter characters)

  • The Bride with the White Hair (Ronny Yu, 1993) – Amazon Prime

  • Green Snake (Tsui Hark, 1993) – Fandor

  • The Untold Story (Danny Lee Sau-Yin and Herman Yau, 1993) – Amazon Prime

  • BONUS: Drive (Steve Wang, 1997) – Amazon Prime and VUDU Free (underseen American/Taiwanese/Japanese co-production)


© 2020 Gabe Powers