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  • Writer's pictureGabe Powers

Grinding the Stream June 2020 UPDATES: Chinese/Hong Kong Cult Cinema

***This is going to be a mid-monthly tradition now, I guess. At least until social distancing standards are completely abandoned. Maybe even after that. Some updates will be bigger than others – it all depends on what differences I can find. I've also added HBOMax selections this month.***

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 May 4, 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

  • Challenge of the Masters (1976) Amazon Prime

  • Executioners from Shaolin (1977) Amazon Prime

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

  • Shaolin Mantis (1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Heroes of the East (1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Dirty Ho (1979) – Amazon Prime

  • Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979) Amazon Prime

  • Spiritual Boxer II (1979) Amazon Prime

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

  • Martial Club (1981) Amazon Prime

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

  • Cat vs. Rat (1982) Amazon Prime

  • The Lady Is the Boss (1983) 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 Magnificent Trio (1966) Amazon Prime

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

  • The Assassin (1967) – Amazon Prime

  • The Trail of the Broken Blade (1967) Amazon Prime

  • Golden Swallow (1968) – Amazon Prime

  • Return of the One-Armed Swordsman (1969) Amazon Prime

  • The Invincible Fist (1969) Amazon Prime

  • Have Sword Will Travel (1969) Amazon Prime

  • The Flying Dagger (1969) Amazon Prime

  • The Wandering Swordsman (1970) Amazon Prime

  • The Heroic Ones (1970) Amazon Prime

  • Vengeance (1970) Amazon Prime

  • The Duel (1971) – Amazon Prime

  • Duel of Fists (1971)Amazon Prime

  • The Deadly Duo (1971) – Amazon Prime

  • The Anonymous Heroes (1971) Amazon Prime

  • Four Riders (1972) Amazon Prime

  • The Water Margin (co-directed with Pao Hsueh-Li and Wu Ma, 1972) – Amazon Prime

  • The Delightful Forest (co-directed with Pao Hsueh-Li, 1972) – Amazon Prime

  • The Boxer from Shantung (co-directed with Pao Hsueh-Li, 1972) Amazon Prime

  • The Angry Guest (1972) Amazon Prime

  • Man of Iron (co-directed with Pao Hsueh-Li, 1972) – Amazon Prime

  • The Delinquent (co-directed with Kuei Chih-Hung, 1973)Amazon Prime

  • Blood Brothers (1973) Amazon Prime

  • Five Shaolin Masters (1974) Amazon Prime

  • Heroes Two (1974) – Amazon Prime

  • The Savage Five (1974) – Amazon Prime

  • Disciples of Shaolin (1975) – Amazon Prime

  • The Four Assassins (1975) – Amazon Prime

  • Boxer Rebellion (1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Shaolin Temple (1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Magnificent Wanderers (1977) Amazon Prime

  • Chinatown Kid (1977) Amazon Prime

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

  • Invincible Shaolin (1978) Amazon Prime

  • Crippled Avengers (1978) Amazon Prime

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

  • Two Champions of Shaolin (1980) Netflix

  • Masked Avengers (1981) – Amazon Prime

  • The Sword Stained with Royal Blood (1981) Amazon Prime

  • Ode to Gallantry (1982) Amazon Prime

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

  • The Weird Man (1983) Amazon Prime

  • Death Ring (co-directed with Lu Feng, 1984) Amazon Prime

Other Shaw Bros. Classics

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

  • Princess Yang Kwei Fei (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1955) – Criterion (pre-Shaw Bros. Shaw & Sons)

  • The Twin Swords (Hsu Tseng-Hung, 1965) Amazon Prime

  • The Sword and the Lute (Hsu Tseng-Hung, 1967) Amazon Prime

  • Valley of the Fangs (Jeong Chang-hwa, 1970) Amazon Prime

  • The Shadow Whip (Lo Wei, 1971) Amazon Prime

  • The 14 Amazons (Cheng Kang, 1972) Amazon Prime

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

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

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

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

  • Clan of Amazons (Chor Yuen, 1978) Amazon Prime

  • Flying Guillotine II (Hua Shan and Cheng Kang, 1978) – Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • 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

  • The Avenging Eagle (Sun Chung, 1978) Amazon Prime

  • Bat without Wings (Chor Yuen, 1980) Amazon Prime

Jackie Chan Movies (see more below)

  • The Cub Tiger from Kwang Tung (Gam Yam, Ngai Hoi-Fung, and Corey Yuen, 1973) Amazon Prime and Roku Channel

  • New Fist of Fury (Lo Wei, 1976) Amazon Prime

  • Hand of Death (John Woo, 1976) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • The 36 Crazy Fists (Chen Chi-Hwa, 1977) Amazon Prime

  • Magnificent Bodyguards (Lo Wei, 1978) Amazon Prime

  • Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (Yuen Woo-ping,1978) – Midnight Pulp

  • Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (Chen Chi-Hwa, 1978) Criterion Channel

  • Spiritual Kung Fu (Lo Wei, 1978) – Criterion Channel

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

  • The Young Master (Jackie Chan, 1980) – Criterion Channel, and Midnight Pulp

  • Fearless Hyena II (Lo Wei and Chuan Chen, 1983) Criterion Channel

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

  • The Protector (James Glickenhaus, 1985) – Tubi

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

  • Island of Fire (Chu Yen-ping, 1990) – Amazon Prime and VUDU Free

  • City Hunter (Wong Jing, 1993) – Amazon Prime, Roku Channel, and Popcorn Flix

  • Crime Story (Kirk Wong, 1993) – VUDU Free and Roku Channel

  • Thunderbolt (Gordon Chan, 1995) – VUDU Free

  • The Forbidden Kingdom (directed by Rob Minkoff, 2008)VUDU Free and Tubi

Michelle Yeoh Action Movies

  • Royal Warriors (David Chung, 1986) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

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

  • Tomorrow Never Dies (Roger Spottiswoode, 1997) – Netflix

  • Silver Hawk (Jingle Ma, 2004) – Popcorn Flix

  • Reign of Assassins (John Woo & Chao-Bin Su, 2010) – Tubi

  • BONUS: Wing Chun (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1994) is currently sitting on YouTube (click here)

Sammo Hung (directed) Movie

  • 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 (starring Jackie Chan, 1984) – Amazon Prime

  • Heart of the Dragon (starring Jackie Chan, 1985) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • My Lucky Stars (starring Jackie Chan, 1985) – Criterion Channel, and Midnight Pulp

  • Eastern Condors (1987) – Midnight Pulp

  • Painted Faces (1988) – Netflix (drama based on the true childhood Peking Opera training of Hung, Chan, and Yuen Biao)

  • Mr. Nice Guy (1997) VUDU Free

  • The Bodyguard (2016)

  • BONUS: Lucky Stars Go Places (third sequel in the Lucky Stars series, starring and produced by Hung, directed by Eric Tsang) Midnight Pulp

Yuen Woo-ping Movies

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

  • Dance of the Drunk Mantis (1979) Amazon Prime and VUDU Free

  • Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978) – Midnight Pulp

  • 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) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Shaolin Drunkard (1983) Amazon Prime

  • In the Line of Duty 4 (1989) Amazon Prime

  • The Forbidden Kingdom (directed by Rob Minkoff, 2008)VUDU Free and Tubi

  • True Legend (2010) Amazon Prime

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

  • The Thousand Faces of Dunjia (2017) – Hulu

  • Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018) Netflix

Category III Movies

In 1988, Hong Kong introduced a rating system that included Category III. These were essentially X-rated softcore sex, nudity, graphic violence, and mention of real Triad gangs. There's a short sort of "Golden Era" of Cat III movies released between '88 and 1997, when the colony was absorbed by Mainland China.

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

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

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

  • Robotrix (Jamie Luk Kim-Ming, 1991) – Amazon Prime

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

  • BONUS: Eternal Evil of Asia (Man Kei Chin, 1995) is sitting on YouTube (click here)

  • BONUS: Ebola Syndrome (Herman Yau, 1996) is sitting on YouTube (click here)

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

  • 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 and Midnight Pulp

  • The Bride with the White Hair II (Davide Wu, 1993) – Midnight Pulp

  • Green Snake (Tsui Hark, 1993) – Fandor

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

  • BONUS: We're Going to Eat You (Tsui Hark, 1980) is sitting on YouTube (click here)

  • BONUS: Chinese Ghost Story (Ching Siu-Tung, 1987) is sitting on YouTube (click here)

  • BONUS: Sweet Home (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1989) is sitting on YouTube (click here)

  • BONUS: Bio-Zombie (Wilson Yip, 1998) is sitting on YouTube (click here)



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