With a juggernaut filmography that spans over four decades, Andy Lau is really an icon in Hong Kong cinema and entertainment. In addition to being a top-class actor who always gives performances that leave you wanting more, Andy Lau also has a successful singing career. Whether you’re already a veteran when it comes to his movies or just dabbling, we’ve listed eight of Andy Lau’s best films below.

To describe Andy Lau in one word is a challenge. It’s not enough to call him simply as an actor-singer. He’s dominated the Hong Kong box office for years, produced critically acclaimed movies, and brought home an unprecedented number of awards. Whether it’s action, drama, or romance, Lau always brings his A-game. So, watch his movies and see for yourself.

To add to his list of impressive feats, the Toronto International Film Festival committee is awarding the actor with a Special Tribute Award at this year’s festival. To celebrate the occasion, we’ve made our own list of Andy Lau’s best movies. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a heart-racing action, tearjerker, or simply just want to see Lau on screen, we guarantee these films will be to your liking.

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Andy Lau’s best movies that you have to watch

Boat People (1982)

Boat People marks Lau’s first collaboration with award-winning director, Ann Hui. Although he only played a supporting role, it allowed the then-young actor to showcase his acting chops. Soon after the movie, he landed his first lead role. The last in Hui’s “Vietnam Trilogy”, the movie was screened out of competition at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. 

Many critics consider this movie as Hui’s best work, and it catapulted her to international light. This also subsequently helped Lau’s career. For his performance as To Mihn, Lau received a Best New Performer nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards. The movie follows a Japanese photojournalist who travels to Vietnam to document the life of the people.

As Tears Go By (1988)

As Tears Go By is best known as the directorial debut of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. But many also remember it as the movie that highlighted Lau’s versatility as an actor. Sure, Lau is well-loved for his looks but his performance also showed that he can take on dramatic roles. Inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, the movie centres around Wah (Lau), a triad member. He’s trying to keep his friend, Fly (Leslie Cheung) out of trouble. At the same time, he has his eyes on Fly’s cousin. The great chemistry between Lau and Cheung makes this movie a must-watch.

A Moment of Romance (1990)

The actor turned his career up a notch in A Moment of Romance, one of the most defining titles in his filmography. It’s so iconic that his character’s name, Wah Dee, also eventually becomes synonymous with Lau. Critics also consider the movie a classic in Hong Kong cinema. This is no doubt, backed by the actor’s performance. 

Lau put his best act on in the movie, dominating with his mastery of taking on both action and romance. While some may dismiss Wah Dee as another gangster role, Lau played him with undeniable depth. A modern-day Cinderella story of sorts, the movie follows a romance between a young gangster (Lau) and a rich heiress.

Infernal Affairs (2002)

There is no Infernal Affairs without Andy Lau, that’s for sure. While Tony Leung also starred in the movie, Lau worked on the subsequent sequels. The legendary movie by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak even inspired Martin Scorsese’s award-winning The Departed. The undeniable chemistry between Lau and Leung is in full force in Infernal Affairs. The two play opposites: Lau is a gangster who becomes a police mole and Leung is a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang. The movie gave birth to some of Hong Kong’s most iconic scenes. Who can forget the scene where Lau and Leung face off on a roof, with Hong Kong’s bustling skyline as the backdrop?

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Lau traded his heroic roles for a chance at playing a grey character—one that is neither good nor bad—in this Zhang Yimou wuxia epic. Once again, the actor boasted his acting skills. It also helped that House of Flying Daggers moved away from being a typical wuxia movie. Rather than focusing on the martial arts, it also tells a heavy love story. Romance and action? That sounds exactly like Lau’s territory. The movie has a star-studded ensemble with Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro starring alongside Lau.

The Warlords (2007)

When you put three formidable actors in one movie, what you get is The Warlords. The movie reunited Lau with Kaneshiro with the addition of another Hong Kong superstar, Jet Li. As you can expect, the movie revolves around the three men who swore brotherhood. It was also a daring change for director Peter Chan, who is widely known for his romance movies.

What’s great about Lau’s performance here is how he managed to hold his own besides Li and Kaneshiro. There’s no performance that’s lesser or inferior to each other, highlighting their undeniable acting ability not to overpower their co-stars. It’s impressive given the theme of the movie.

A Simple Life (2011)

In A Simple Life, Lau reunited not just with director Ann Hui but also with actress Deanie Ip. Lau’s chemistry with Ip is one of the movie’s defining appeals. In fact, director Hui admitted that she chose the two because of their close relationship. Not only is Ip Lau’s godmother but she has also played his mother in other films. Lau commanded a tearjerking performance as Roger Leung but at the same time, also helped elevate Ip’s own performance. Ip won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, the first Hong Kong actress to achieve the feat.

Shock Wave (2017)

Lau really sent viewers on a shockwave in this nail-biting movie. It marked director Herman Yau and Lau’s third collaboration. The edge-of-your-seat action sequences were the highlights of the movie, backed by a charismatic performance by Lau. The actor took on the role of a bomb disposal officer going neck to neck with a top criminal bomber. In true Andy Lau fashion, while his character is busy saving the city, he also has some romantic encounters with a school teacher.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Why is Andy Lau so famous?

Andy Lau is famous for his successful acting and singing career. He is also a film producer.

  • Is Andy Lau a good actor?

Andy Lau is known for his acting skills, having won numerous accolades locally and internationally.

  • Who is Andy Lau’s wife?

Andy Lau’s wife is a former model, Carol Chu. They got married in 2008.

All images credit: Imdb

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong