Beginning with the new moon that occurs between 21 January and 20 February (as per the English calendar), the Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is an annual festival that spans over 15 days. This year, it starts on 21 January 2023 and ends on 9 February, 2024. The festival is observed in places where the lunisolar calendar is followed. Even though it is known as the Chinese New Year, it is celebrated in various Asian countries, including Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam with much pomp and show. These holidays will give you an opportunity to catch some evergreen Chinese New Year films.
Millions of people travel long distances across China to meet their families this time of the year, in the world’s largest human migration. For many, the Chinese New Year serves as the only time migrant workers visit their loved ones, whom they have left behind in search of jobs in various countries. In other Asian countries as well, families and close friends get together to celebrate.
World travel has opened up again but China still has a few COVID-19 curbs. If you are planning to stay home this year, you can still bring in some new year cheer by hosting virtual get-togethers, playing games online or spending some quiet time watching movies. For those who choose the latter, this list of Chinese New Year films can be helpful.
It includes movies released during the Lunar year period and classics that can be watched anytime. So get your favourite munchies ready for a Chinese New Year movie marathon and enjoy this festive season from the comfort of your home.
15 Chinese New Year films that you must watch
Reunion Dinner (2022)
This much-hyped Singaporean film is the first of the five movies planned by Singapore-China co-productions and is directed by Ong Kuo Sin.
The film stars Lawrence Wong, Mark Lee, Xiang Yun, Cya Liu, Mimi Choo, Guo Liang, Dasa Dharamahsena in lead roles. This hearty rom-com narrates the story of Chaoyang (Wong) and his girlfriend Zi Hong (Liu). Chaoyang juggles work as he tries to impress his partner’s father.
Nasi Lemak 1.0 (2022)
This film is directed and written by Rapper Namewee who also essays the lead role of Chef Huang in this drama. The plot follows Huang who enters a cooking competition.
Little does he know that this will turn into a big adventure as he travels 600 years back in time to Melaka Sultanate.
Saiful Apek and David Arumugam also star in the movie.
Ah Girls Go Army and Ah Girls Go Army Again (2022)
Both movies, helmed by Jack Neo, were released in 2022 and were much loved by the families. The plot of the first film Ah Girls Go Army revolves around female recruits enlisted in the National Service of Singapore. These girls are the future of Singapore and the movie traces their journey.
The sequel of the movie further follows their journey as the girls land in dangerous situations to save their country.
The first instalment stars Apple Chan, Farah Farook and Shirli Ling in lead roles. Chan is joined by Belle Chua and Andruew Tang in the sequel.
Small Town Heroes (2022)
This Ryon Lee directorial is a coming-of-age film which stirs the emotions of nostalgia and homecoming. The plot is about a teenager visiting home as the world grapples with COVID-19 pandemic.
The film stars Phua Chandler, Jack Lim and Fauziah Nawi in lead roles.
Table for Six (2022)
Everybody loves a good comedy and this Sunny Chan directorial promises just that. This one is amongst the best Chinese New Year films to watch because it has all the elements of a family entertainer. The movie is about Bernard (Louis Cheung) who attends a family dinner with his new girlfriend who is actually his elder brother Steve’s (Chi-Wah Wong) ex.
Stephy Tang joins Cheung and Wong in this entertainer. This comedy of errors is a perfect way to celebrate a family get-together.
Wish Dragon (2021) and Wish Dragon 2 (2022)
These animated movies are sure to capture young hearts. Two instalments of this Chris Appelhans directorial were released in 2021 and 2022. The plot revolves around Din (voiced by Jimmy Wong) who is on the lookout for his childhood friend Li Na (voiced by Natasha Liu Bordizzo). He meets a wish-granting dragon in this quest. The second instalment continues with the plot as Din goes to college.
Constance Wu (voice) joins Wong and Bordizzo in this heartwarming tale about love and friendship.
Mahjong Heroes (1981)
Directed by Li Pei-Chuan, this movie is a classic for many more reasons than one. The movie focuses on the Mahjong game but is a light-hearted, action-filled entertainer which no one should miss catching up on.
The movie stars Patrick Tse, Yueh Hua, Betty Ting Pie, Chin Siu Ho, Lau Hak-Suen and Kwan-Hoi-san.
The Four Seas / Only Fools Rush In (2022)
One of the most-anticipated Chinese New Year movies, Four Seas released on 1 February. Directed by Han Han, the movie stars Liu Haoran, Zhang Youhao, Qiao Shan, Liu Haocun, Yin Zheng, Shen Teng and Zhou Qi in pivotal roles.
The story follows a young motorcycle stunt driver (Haoran) who renews his relationship with his estranged father and meets a racecar brother-sister duo in a chance encounter. The three go on a road trip, which is where all the fun lies.
Breaking Through (2022)
Movies based on sportspersons give us an equal dose of entertainment and inspiration, and this flick is no different.
The highly anticipated film is directed by Wang Fangfang and tells the story of a coach and athlete duo that won the first-ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics for China.
Starring Meng Meiqi and Xia Yu, Breaking Through is expected to generate a lot of hype for the Winter Olympics 2022, which will be hosted by Beijing.
The film is set to release on the day of the Chinese New Year.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Stephen Chow is a master when it comes to perfectly mixing martial arts and comedy, and Kung Fu Hustle is proof of that.
The classic is based on the life of Sing (Chow) who wants to join an infamous gang. Sing, later, stumbles upon a community whose members exhibit exceptional kung fu skills.
As the story moves ahead, it evolves into a fight between the two sides to defend their turf. Their drive to win is sure to keep viewers hooked on their TV screens.
The cast includes Xiaogang Feng as Crocodile Gang Boss, Zhihua Dong as Donut, Danny Kwok-Kwan Chan as Brother Sum, Tze-Chung Lam as Bone and Siu-Lung Leung as the Beast.
Enter The Dragon (1973)
One of the reasons kung fu was such a rage in the movies during the 70’s was because of Bruce Lee, whose movie Enter The Dragon had released in 1973.
The film is still one of the best in the genre and is full of breathtaking stunts that keep you on the edge of your seat. Bruce Lee plays Lee, an undercover agent who is sent to partake in a tournament in Hong Kong to bust the opium trade at its establishment.
Directed by Robert Clouse, the film has John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Ahna Capri, Kien Shih, Robert Wall and Angela Mao in iconic roles.
Directed by Robert Clouse, the film stars John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Ahna Capri, Kien Shih, Robert Wall and Angela Mao in iconic roles.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
This film created a lot of buzz when it was released because of its all-Asian cast. This year, celebrate Chinese New Year with friends with this fun-filled movie.
Crazy Rich Asians is based on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel by the same name. The film introduced the world to a part of Singapore that drips in luxury, glamour and wealth while following traditions.
The movie revolves around Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Goulding) to attend his friend’s wedding and meet his family where she realises that he belongs to one of the richest families in the country. The plot entails the hardships Wu faces while making a place for herself in Young’s family.
The Jon M. Chu directorial includes a star-studded cast of Awkwafina as Peik Lin Goh, Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Young, Gemma Chan as Astrid Young Teo and Lisa Lu as Ah Ma.
Shaolin Soccer (2001)
A crossover between kung fu, football and comedy, the classic film is another one of Stephen Chow’s marvels.
The film is about a former soccer star, Golden Leg (Ng Mang Tat), whose career ends because of his boss and team coach. The Shaolin follower rounds up his dispirited brothers and forms a soccer team to take part in a tournament for a 1-million-dollar prize.
In Shaolin Soccer, Chow essays the role of ‘Mighty Steel Leg Sing’ who has exceptional kung fu skills and thinks Shaolin kung fu is the answer to everything. The group tries to revive their skill set and use martial arts to their advantage.
Last Train Home (2009)
Last Train Home revolves around the hardships and sacrifices of 130 million migrant workers who travel back to their village during the Chinese New Year to meet their children.
The emotional film traces the journey of a couple — Changhua Zhang and Suqin Chen — who, like other migrant workers in their village, have left behind their children in the care of elders to earn money, only to return once a year to celebrate the Lunar New Year with loved ones.
All’s Well, Ends Well (1992)
Directed by Clifton Ko, All’s Well, Ends Well follows three Shang brothers — Shang Moon (Raymond Pak-Ming Wong), Shang Foon (Stephen Chow) and Shang So (Leslie Cheung) — who try to get their love lives on track.
The slapstick comedy is sure to leave you in splits as the brothers fight their inner evils while trying to get into the good books of their parents.
The film casts Maggie Cheung, Sandra Kwan Yue Ng, Teresa Mo, Sheila Chan, Heung-Kam Lee and Hoi-San Kwan in prominent roles. The Chinese New Year classic has six sequels.
(Main and Featured image credit: IMDb)