Why are we at this after year then? Well, the webmaster still continues to stand by Hong Kong cinema, for better or worse, but I've since long given up sole focus on action cinema coming to our FULL rescue, as very apparent in the choices below. The truck is slowly rolling along still and this years success initiative came from Andy Lau's Focus Films project "FOCUS: First Cuts" where new talent got the chance to shine and to be promoted in that light. China's Ning Hao has for instance enjoyed tremendous success with his Crazy Stone and deservedly Taiwan's Robin Lee occupies a spot in my list this year. All in all, I'll continue to walk alongside my blessing and my curse. God knows it's us viewers who has to sometimes push the cinema along because the companies, especially ones responsible for dvd content, are not.

To read the entire review of a selected movie, click on the cover art

1. Temptation Of A Monk (Directed by: Clara Law)
Character-drama director Clara Law took on the Wuxia genre (and a Category III rating) for her quiet, subtle portrayal of a warrior turned monk and the temptations that come with it. Has its share of gory action and sex but looking for merely that will only generate disappointment. While Joan Chen isn't given as much to do as she deserves, lead Wu Hsing-Kuo is there to perfectly embody the traits of his character and the theme of the film. Michael Lee almost steals the film in a supporting performance as a quirky old monk.
2. Always On My Mind (Directed by: Jacob Cheung)

Just as concerned with Michael Hui's good ol' social satire as it is with heartache, Jacob Cheung brings the outermost, expert touch to this comedy drama. Highlighting Hui's skills and just as easy bringing him down to humane level without sacrificing what we've seen in the character, Always On My Mind takes a known template to highly touching levels. Josephine Siao easily commands the second billing and the synch sound recording is a major plus.

3. The Shoe Fairy (Directed by: Robin Lee)
A fine addition to what hopefully will be several waves of Andy Lau's Focus Films initiated program to let loose new, creative filmmakers...onto the Digital Video format. Taiwanese writer/director Robin Lee utilizes the technique offered to her superbly, placing us in literally a fantastic world that speaks equally much to real life themes. Be dazzled and be touched, not an easy combo to pull off.
4. Moonlight In Tokyo (Directed by Alan Mak & Felix Chong)
Off-beat-wonder-beauty-tear-esque. There really is no way to properly describe this multi-mood exercise so best bet is to just make up your own definition. Showing he didn't lose sight of what makes cinema so wonderfully surprising whilst making Infernal Affairs, Alan Mak let long time co-writer Felix Chong come along for the ride and gave us one of 2005's finest films. It will be for those who can take it that is. Affecting, funny, and far out there, it's also immensely enjoyable watching Leon Lai and Chapman To responding fully to this carousel.
5. Red Rose White Rose (Directed by: Stanley Kwan)
Women films director Stanley Kwan challenges that pre-conceived notion by infusing Red Rose White Rose with very much a complex male angle. Superbly shot by Christopher Doyle and with a trio of performers that flourish under the direction of Kwan (including Veronica Yip), the film is amongst Kwan's very, very best.
6. Sea Root (Directed by: Lee Gwok Laap & Art Concept Creative Group)  

Quality filmmaking despite directing credit going out to a whole bunch of people, main one being Lee Gwok Laap and hidden in the Art Concept Creative Group is Raymond To. Although not purely a nostalgia trip this time (as per many of To's movies), Sea Root is a splendid example of being busy thematically and symbolically but yet being over 100% accessible. A coming of age story of sorts, it also features Lau Ching-Wan and Alice Lau at their very best with fine support by Lee Fung and Wu Fung.

7. Red Dust (Directed by: Yim Ho)
Adored by the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards jury and rightly so, Yim Ho's drama of conflicted emotions during this occupation period of the 1930s is one of those amazing Chinese films that manages to speak of universal aspects equally. Even if you still can't absorb it all, a LOT still reaches a Western audience who also gets the chance to watch Brigitte Lin take a welcome breather from the Wuxia genre to deliver an award winning dramatic performance. Paired up with former love interest on- and off screen, Chin Han, Maggie Cheung also co-stars in this atmospheric offering.
8. Isabella (Directed by: Edmond Pang)
For the very uptight critic, Edmond Pang's first foray into scope photography may be too Wong Kar Wai-esque but who cares if the final, moody package deal is actually good! Despite not designing the vehicle for his lead Isabella Leong, she breaks through big time here along with otherwise Hong Kong cinema annoyance Chapman To in a low-key story about a father and a daughter reuniting during the months leading up to the handover of Macau to China. A little bit naughty as per most premises by Pang, the film easily transcends any exploitation traps that could've dominated.
9. Yesteryou, Yesterme, Yesterday (Directed by: Samson Chiu)
From most of the crew at UFO but not a production made there, Samson Chiu's off-beat and quirky coming of age story contains the bittersweet nature you come to expect from the material. But in the script by Lee Chi-Ngai there's also ventures into teenage sexuality (hormones run wild in our main character), crass humour but it adds up to a full portrayal by our young lead (John Tang), finding out a thing or two about his role in life. Superb use of The Bee Gee's "First Of May" aids Chiu's intentions. Was followed by Over The Rainbow, Under The Skirt & Yesterday You, Yesterday Me.
10. Election & Election 2 (Directed by: Johnnie To)
Really not a complete saga without one of the other flicks accompanying it. Johnnie To skillfully sets up triad related themes in Election but speaks equally of grave Hong Kong concerns that travels beyond the actual events on screen. For his sequel, supporting characters from the first film suitably take center stage for the final, nailed, pessimistic future musings by Hong Kong's premier director. The Category III rating mostly corresponds to the sequel, in the way some narrow-minded people would like it to to. To wasn't shy about wanting the rating though as evident by teaser posters with triad hand gestures galore! A big no-no in censorship land.