The supernova star power of Hong Kong cinema icons Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh, and Anita Mui propels this gloriously unrestrained action extravaganza from genre maestro Johnnie To, which injects its martial-arts mayhem with a blast of comic-book lunacy. They are the knife-throwing, shotgun-toting, kung-fu-fighting super-heroines who must overcome their dark pasts in order to defeat an evil, baby-snatching eunuch who is terrorizing Hong Kong. Eye-popping motorcycle stunts, brain-exploding skeletons, infant cannibals, and kinetically choreographed wire work are all part of the delirium in this unstoppably entertaining cult favorite (referenced in Cheung’s international breakthrough Irma Vep), a kick-butt showcase for three of the coolest women warriors to ever hit the screen.
This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red(Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema.
The Hong Kong crime drama was jolted to new life with the release of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, a bracing, explosively stylish critical and commercial triumph that introduced a dazzling level of narrative and thematic complexity to the genre with its gripping saga of two rival moles.
The release of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows in 1959 shook world cinema to its foundations.