10 For 10: Ten Movies That Kicked My Ass Over the Past Decade


My site is celebrating 10 glorious years on the internet and to honor that I’m going to be tossing out a few top ten lists over the next few months. This movie themed list hearkens back to the very origins of this site.

Ten years ago Drunkenfist.com was mostly a repository of my writing for Boston’s late, lamented Shovel Magazine. At that point I’d been writing 1-2000 words a month on Hong Kong movies for a couple of years, so there was a lot of content to share. Since then, the site has transitioned from mostly film writing to mostly art, but at its heart the site still has a lot of cinema flowing through its veins.

Because of that, it’s only right that I start with this list of ten films released over the past ten years that fit the Drunkenfist.com aesthetic to a tee. If I were still Mr. Movies the following 10 films would have been trotted out at every opportunity. For those of you who followed my writing back in the day, imagine the geeking out I did over Iron Monkey and you’ll get a clear picture of how much I like the following films…

So, without further ado, here are 10 movies that have kicked my ass over the past ten years (in one way or another :) )

  1. Infernal Affairs 無間道

    While I’m glad that Martin Scorcese finally has his Oscar™, I have to say The Departed isn’t half the film Infernal Affairs is. Why couldn’t they have given him one of the two awards he really deserved (Raging Bull and Goodfellas?)


    No sidetracks!

    Yeah right….

    Back to Infernal Affairs. This time with my full attention.

    There are moments of perfection spread throughout Andrew Lau’s masterpiece. From the first meeting of Andy Lau and Tony Leung Kar Wai in the “hi-fi shop scene” (possibly my favorite scene in all of cinema over the past ten years) to the tense and beautiful rooftop scenes that punctuate the films final, dramatic moments, Infernal Affairs in some ways represents the culmination of my obsession with Hong Kong cinema. It’s not the most exuberant, the most thrilling or the most memorable, but it’s got enough of everything that’s special about Hong Kong cinema and is of such high quality it’s just a jaw-dropper.

    Here’s the hi fi scene (it cuts off just at the end, but this is the best I could do on YouTube.)

    Taken by itself, I quite like it. In context? It’s two of the biggest stars in Hong Kong over the last 25 years, at the height of their powers in a well crafted, understated scene that both parallels and sets the stage for the remainder of the film. If I were the kind of person to do such a thing, I could write a paper about that scene. I would enthuse.

    And it really doesn’t let up from there

    Can you tell I love this movie?

    I do.

    Do I really have nine more movies to work through? I better get a snack.

  2. City of God (Cidade de Deus)

    Another film that slapped me right in the face and reminded me how much I love movies.

    I went back to look at my earlier capsule review. It’s entirely devoid of detail but perfectly captures the flavor of my reaction to this stunning movie:

    Where to begin with this one? It’s brilliant. I’ll start there. It’s an absolute explosion of a film, bursting at the seams with raw energy. Beyond that… it’s INFUCKINGSANE. Not just violent (although it’s incredibly violent) the situations in this movie are BONKERS- jaw-dropping, 100% crazy-go-nuts insanity. Check it out if you’ve got a mind for that sort of thing.

    That about sums it up. Beautiful and intense, City of God is easily one of the best films of the decade.

    Watching it was a truly visceral, memorable experience. The most special films for me are those that reinvigorate my love of movies. I walk away form them and I’m halfway to writing a screenplay. This is one such movie.

  3. Lost in Translation

    Maybe not the most expected entry in this list? Or maybe it is? Either way, I absolutely adored Sofia Coppola’s surprising masterpiece. Thinking back on it, I can’t imagine a more charming film.

    Having Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson along for the ride helped matters, of course. Murray was brilliant (in his second career mode- “indy” actor extraordinaire) and Scarlett Johansson was Scarlett Johansson.

    Which is all I have to say about that :) Rambling on about Scarlett Johansson gets us nowhere.


    I will say a little bit more of a the film in general. I especially liked the way it balanced the “wow, Japanese people are so funky” ogling that western audiences are so fond of with a healthy dose of lovingly shot scenes of Tokyo at its coolest. Bravo for that. I mean, yes, Japanese culture is fascinating to me, that doesn’t mean I want every glimpse of it to be the typical carnival lens people in the States use. This was a nice blend.


    Scarlett Johansson!

  4. Ip Man ( 葉問 )

    I recently reviewed this here on the blog and I praised it with great praise.

    I still feel the same way

    For me, a guy whose primary cinematic focus for the better part of a decade was martial arts movies, seeing a pure marital arts movie of this caliber was a real joy. There have been some good, old-fashioned kung fu flicks over the past few years, but this one had the best old school flavor and that served as a welcome balance to the wuxia trend of the past decade.

    Don’t get me wrong, as the next entrant in this list will attest I love the poetic, wuxia flavored films that have dominated the post-Crouching Tiger landscape as much than the next guy. It’s just the part of me that’s obsessed over the career of Lau Kar Leung appreciates the hell out of a film that owes more to the 70s-90s than it does to anything produced this decade.

    Especially when it features such a triumphant performance by local hero Donnie Yen.

    If you want to see where the core genre pioneered by Bruce Lee, the Shaw Brothers Studio and Jackie Chan has ended up after all these years Ip Man is a damn fine place to start.

  5. House of Flying Daggers ( 十面埋伏 )

    It’s difficult to choose just one of these wuxia-pian to focus on for this list. Something about House of Flying Daggers just appeals to me.

    I wonder what that could be…

    Maybe Zhang Ziyi?

    No way. Never!

    There’s more to it than that, of course, it’s a beautifully shot, poetic film, with fun action scenes, but I’d be lying to you if I said that Zhang Ziyi didn’t help matters

    I guess I should point out that this is probably one of the lighter films in this wuxia cycle. It’s not as deep as some of the other entries. But, you know what? That’s not big deal. Not everything needs to be a mile deep. Some surface beauty is okay from time to time. Such is the case here.

  6. Ong Bak ( องค์บาก; )

    Easily the worst “film” on this list. The parts that aren’t action scenes are craptastic to the nth degree. The thing is- who cares? Tony Jaa is the mack. What a talented screen fighter…

    I could write something, but… why bother? Youtube is here for me:

  7. Shaolin Soccer ( 少林足球 )

    My favorite Stephen Chow film, by a landslide. Much funnier, to me, than Kung Fu Hustle, the immensely popular follow-up. Shaolin Soccer is a comedy masterpiece- a funny, surreal romp that blends soccer, outrageous slapstick humor and the super powered hi-jinks typical of a wuxia-pian.

    As evidence of how much I loved it, this is the one film this decade that I most often forced upon people. I have to have shown it to about 10 people in separate groups.

    “Have you seen Shaolin Soccer?”


    “Oh, well, I’ve got to remedy that! Want a beer?”

    And so it went, over and over again… And every one of those people is still my friend!

  8. Battle Royale ( バトル・ロワイアル )

    Oh, Battle Royale, how much do I love thee?

    Enough to have seen the movie, the inferior sequel, read the book and read the manga?

    Yeah, that much.

    Controversial, dark, and violent, the film is truly one of the highlights of the decade for me. It’s just so… nuts. I mean, it’s a good movie and all, especially blessed by the presence of “Beat” Takeshi, but the real appeal is the set-up (a high school class dopped onto an island and told to kill or be killed until there’s only one survivor) and the action-packed execution. You spend half your time watching the film struggling to wrap your head around the concept and the other half gripping your chair waiting for the next screwed up moment.

    Brilliant stuff, really.

  9. District B13 ( Banlieue 13 )

    I wrote a full-length review of this a few years ago. I loved it. Here are a couple of words fromt hat review:

    It’s an exhilarating stunt-fest that almost begs for repeated viewings. In other words, it’s my kind of movie.

    It really is. I’m fascinated by Parkour and this Parkour-based actioner is a phenomenal showcase for the art- notable for featuring the urban discipline’s founder David Belle. The opening chase scene is one of the top action pieces of the decade- without question. If it doesn’t get your pulse racing you’re not an action movie fan. And you might be actually dead. It’s jaw-dropping stunt work comparable to anything done by anyone, anywhere.

    I should give a shout-out to Cyril Raffaelli, by the way. While the style of the fights aren’t exactly my cup of tea, he’s an extremely talented martial artist and stuntman and he was almost as fun to watch as Bell. High praise, indeed. I’d love to see him work in some HK style choreography

  10. Children of Men

    Alfonso Cuarón + Clive Owen + bleak, distopian sci-fi? Of course I loved this movie.

    Seriously, while many of the movies on this list were basically crafted with me (or at least someone like me) in mind, this one had a lot going for it going in and it delivered on all fronts.

    One front I have to call out right now? Michael Caine. For real. As I previously wrote:

    Caine’s turn in this is one of those roles that reminds the viewer that he does actually know what he’s doing. For every “paycheck” role he’s ever taken, there’s one of these waiting in the wings to make up for it.

    Caine kicks so much ass in this movie it’s not even funny. He’s just so damned good, I was raving about him for a couple of days afterward.

    Toss in an incredible story, yet another great turn by Clive Owen and some well-crafted “shock” moments (that really do startle and in doing so they burrow into your brain, dragging you even deeper into the film) and it’s no wonder why I’m such a fan.

And there you have it, hopefully it was half as fun for you as it was for me. Memory lane can be fun 🙂

Keep your eyes peeled, there’s more celebration to come, including one more film article outlining my ten favorite films of all time.

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