Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (2023)

Commercial factors have influenced cinema since China's liberal democracy in the late-1970s and its access to global markets. The Oriental Movie Metropolis and Hengdian World Studios are the world's largest movie and drama production complexes and film studios, respectively. China has the third-largest film industry in terms of the number of feature films produced yearly in 2010. The Chinese film industry is expanding, and local productions are beginning to have the same influence on the box office as huge Hollywood blockbusters.

By box office revenue, the nation rose to the second-largest market in the world in 2012. China's total box office receipts for 2016 were 45.71 billion RMB ($6.58 billion USD). And in 2020, China surpassed the United States to take the top spot in the global movie market. According to Comscore (SCOR), the nation, which has consistently been the second-largest movie market, made $3.1 billion at the box office in 2020, which is about $1 billion more than what the United States made the previous year.

So, what attributes do Chinese movies have? The GHJ states that “compared to the global audience, the Chinese audience does not necessarily favor action and visual effect films.” The business consultancy organization said that “when the majority of the audience is already connected to the theme and the story, it is not a surprise that they give higher ratings.” That being said most people want an entertaining film that gives them something new and unique. There are many great Chinese films, but here is our ranked list of the top ones from the 21st Century (so far).


16 Blind Massage (2014)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (1)

Blind Massage is frequently cited as one of Lou Ye's best works. It is a drama that centers on the blind staff members of a massage parlor in Nanjing. With a clear and straightforward plot, this Chinese film is exceptional in its richness and coherence.

Related: Best Chinese Movies of the 2010s, Ranked

15 Election (2005)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (2)
(Video) 13 Chinese Movies That Are Better Than Hollywood Movies [Ft HappySqueak]

Election is essentially a narrative about two gang bosses competing for control of Hong Kong's Triad society, as its title suggests. The film portrays Hong Kong's moment of change rather than being a conventional crime film. Leung Ka-Fai, Suet Lam, and Louis Koo are the stars of Election.

14 In the Mood for Love (2000)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (3)

Most people agree that In the Mood for Love is a timeless piece of art. It tells the narrative of a man and a woman (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung), whose spouses are engaged in an affair, and who gradually get very close to one another. The narrative appears to be simplistic, but filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai transforms it into a singular work of art. The screenplay, background soundtrack, and cinematography all work together flawlessly to mesmerize you with the film.

13 Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (4)

Kung Fu Hustle will provide fans of martial arts films with a fresh experience. It has references to a variety of films, animated cartoons, wuxia books, and other sources, which makes it entertaining in addition to including several retired actors well-known for 1970s Hong Kong action cinema. Stephen Chow, who also plays the main character, directs the movie masterfully. Danny Chan, Yuen Wah, and Yuen Qiu round out the major cast.

12 Kaili Blues (2016)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (5)

The type of movie that forces you to continually reflect and review is Kaili Blues. It depicts the tale of a doctor (Yongzhong Chen) searching the countryside for his nephew and coming into contact with characters from both his past and future. You will be stunned by filmmaker Bi Gan's impressive debut after seeing this film.

(Video) Top 10 Martial Arts Movies of the Century (So Far)

11 Night and Fog (2009)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (6)

Night and Fog, a Hong Kong drama by filmmaker Ann Hui, is based on a 2004 homicide that took place in Tin Shui Wai. The film tells the tale of a guy who murders his wife and kids via flashbacks. One of the societal issues in Hong Kong that the film highlights has to do with the city's recent influx of immigrants.

Related: Best Chinese Movies from the 90s, Ranked

10 Spring Fever (2010)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (7)

Director Lou Ye's film Spring Fever tells the tale of three young individuals (Qin Hao, Chen Sicheng, and Wu Wei) who struggle with their romantic desires. In contrast to Ye's earlier films, this one is both warm and reflective. In addition, the film received the Best Screenplay prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, making it a must-see.

9 The Grandmaster (2013)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (8)

Wong Kar-Wai is the director of the martial arts drama film The Grandmaster. The film tells the story of Ip Man, a renowned Wing Chun grandmaster, who is lifted in the movie. The film also has exquisite cinematography by Wong Kar-Wei, and it was nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Cinematography at the 86th Academy Awards.

8 Still Life (2006)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (9)

The drama Still Life made its world premiere at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, where it took home the Golden Lion for Best Film. It tells the tale of two people who meet in a tiny community while looking for their brides. Like many of Jia Zhangke's films, this one is stately but moves at a moderate, steady pace. Additionally, the film is so beautifully shot that it will move you.

(Video) Top 20 Best Movie Plot Twists of the 21st Century (So Far)

7 The Assassin (2015)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (10)

The Assassin takes place in the last years of the Tang Dynasty in 9th-Century China. With an all-star ensemble that includes renowned Chinese performers like Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Zhou Yun, and Satoshi Tsumabuki and a brilliant director in Hou Hsiao-hsien, this movie tells the tale of a woman assassin who is given a perilous assignment to take out a prominent figure. Despite not being the action-packed film you would have anticipated, The Assassin is nevertheless a masterpiece with beautiful graphics that will stun you.

6 Infernal Affairs (2002)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (11)

Infernal Affairs is a crime thriller you shouldn't miss out on if you enjoy watching them. It relates the tale of a police department mole and an undercover mafia officer, and was directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. Both of their goals are to reveal the mole who is hiding among them in a race against time. The all-star ensemble, which includes Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, and Eric Tsang, makes this a movie that will leave you gasping for air.

5 The Battle at Lake Changjin (2021)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (12)

The Battle at Lake Changjin is a Chinese military movie that depicts how Chinese forces overcame adverse weather circumstances to win the battle at Lake Changjin, also known as the battle of Chosin Reservoir. The conflict between China and the United States that lasted from November 27 to December 24, 1950 is showcased. With a $200 million budget, The Battle at Lake Changjin is the most costly movie ever made in China. The movie made $913 million at the international box office. The film did so well at the opening weekend that it topped even the Venom sequel, according to Insider. With those figures, it should come as no surprise that The Battle at Lake Changjin II, the sequel, released on February 1, 2022.

4 Monster Hunt (2015)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (13)
(Video) Top 10 Historical Chinese/Korean Movies of All Time !!!

Raman Hui makes his feature directorial debut with the Chinese-Hong Kong 3D fantasy action comedy adventure movie Monster Hunt. The movie is about Song Tianyin, a nervous young village mayor who conceives the Monster Queen's child and meets Huo Xiaolan, a want-to-be monster hunter. Together, they set out on an expedition to save the infant from both human and monster world bad guys. In 2018, Monster Hunt 2 was made available in China.

3 The Mermaid (2016)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (14)

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, in which a mermaid falls in love with a human, served as the inspiration for the movie The Mermaid, but director Stephen Chow wished to create a more contemporary version. The movie depicts the tale of Mermaid Shan, who is tasked with assassinating Xuan in order to put an end to his project, which puts the whole mermaid race in danger. They do, however, fall in love, which puts them in the cross-hairs of a deadly and covert organization.

2 Hero (2002)

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (15)

Hero is a martial arts movie that became a box-office success after it was released. The Warring States Period, when China was divided into seven states, is referenced in the movie's historical backdrop. Assassins from the other six nations were dispatched to kill the monarch of Qin in 227–221 BC, just as the Qin state was ready to unite the other six states. The attempted assassination of the King of Qin by Jing Ke is one of the most well-known episodes. Hero is a distinctive movie worth seeing, with Christopher Doyle's cinematography and Tan Dun's musical soundtrack receiving praise.

Best Chinese Movies of the 21st Century (So Far), Ranked (16)
(Video) Top 10 Highest Grossing Films of the Century (So Far)

One of filmmaker Ang Lee's finest works is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It is a fantastic action film that will take you on a romantic and exciting adventure ride. You may also observe when viewing this film that several sequences are filmed in a symbolic and deliberate manner, which is worth seeing repeatedly. The movie is based on Wang Dulu's 1941–1942 serialized Chinese book of the same name. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a huge box office and critical success in 2001, winning over 40 awards and earning ten Academy Award nominations, which at the time was a record for a non-English language picture. According to Deadline, a possible Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon television series is in the works from writer/ producer Jason Ning.


Which is the No 1 movie in China? ›

The Battle at Lake Changjin

What is a famous Chinese movie? ›

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

What kind of movies do Chinese people like? ›

Share of box office revenue in China 2020-2022, by genre

In 2022, drama and comedy movies were the most successful genres in China, accounting for 79 percent of the total box office revenue. Sci-fi, war, and action movies were other popular movie categories.

Does China have a movie rating system? ›

Why doesn't China have an age rating system already? Unlike many other major markets, age ratings for multimedia entertainment aren't really a thing in China. Movies don't have ratings, neither do books or music, and it's the same for video games.

Who is the most popular Chinese actor in China? ›

Famous Chinese Actors || Wang Yibo 王一博 Wang Yibo is a new upcoming famous actor in China. As one of the most handsome actors in recent years, his looks and acting skills have also brought him great fame.

What is the number 1 ranked movie of all time? ›

1. Citizen Kane (1941)

What is the best grossing Chinese movie? ›

The Battle at Lake Changjin II

The sequel to China's all-time highest-grossing blockbuster, The Battle at Lake Changjin II raked in 4.07 billion yuan at the box office in 2022, topping the list of top grossing films in China in 2022.

What is the best Chinese drama of all time? ›

  • 1 /11. Scarlet Heart. Scarlet Heart, a 2011 drama based on the novel Bu Bu Jing Xin, created a buzz when it first came out. ...
  • 2 /11. Love Between Fairy and Devil. ...
  • 3 /11. Story of Yanxi Palace. ...
  • 4 /11. Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace. ...
  • 5 /11. Who Rules the World. ...
  • 6 /11. Love Like the Galaxy. ...
  • 7 /11. The King's Woman. ...
  • 8 /11. The Untamed.
Oct 13, 2022

What is the Chinese equivalent of Hollywood? ›

Filming ramps up at China's equivalent to Hollywood – Hengdian World Studios. More than 100 crews have returned to work at China's version of Hollywood, Hengdian World Studios in East China's Zhejiang Province.

Does China allow Hollywood movies? ›

Many Hollywood movies aren't shown in China because they don't abide the country's Film Administration regulations.

Does China ban Netflix? ›

Are you traveling to China and worried about accessing your Netflix? Although most of the world has access to Netflix, the service is still unavailable in China. So if you want access to your home Netflix library, you must use a VPN.

How many American movies are allowed in China? ›

Foreign films can formally only be distributed in China through one of two centralized state-owned enterprises, and are imported as either one of a limited quota of 34 “revenue-share” films, for which the studio gets a cut of the box office, or on “flat fee” (aka “buy-out”) terms.

What is Netflix equivalent in China? ›

iQIYI (simplified Chinese: 爱奇艺; traditional Chinese: 愛奇藝; pinyin: àiQíYì), formerly Qiyi (奇艺), is a Chinese online video platform based in Beijing and Shanghai launched on April 22, 2010.

Who is the No 1 handsome Chinese actor? ›

The poll, which included 2.2 million votes from more than 140 countries, had Chinese actor Xiao Zhan at the top of the list as he gained the most number of votes in USA, Peru, Thailand, Myanmar and more.

Who is the most famous American actor in China? ›

According to another ranking, the top 10 western male celebrities in China are as follows: Michael Jackson, Freedie Highmore, Tom Cruise, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Brad Pitt, Sebastian Stan, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, and Robert Downey Jr.

Who is the most popular American actor in China? ›

Chadwick Boseman crowned "Most Popular U.S. Actor in China" — black talent does sell overseas.

Which movie has 9.5 rating? ›

💯 #Kantara is already winning hearts with 9.5 IMDB rating and has become India's highest-rated.

What movie has a 100% rating? ›

To date, Leave No Trace holds the site's record, with a rating of 100% and 251 positive reviews.

What was the fastest movie to hit $1 billion? ›

Fastest to $1 billion

Titanic became the first movie to gross over $1 billion worldwide on March 1, 1998, in 74 days of release. The list below is restricted to the 10 movies that reached the milestone the fastest.

What are the 3 highest grossing movies? ›

Top Lifetime Grosses
RankTitleLifetime Gross
2Avengers: Endgame$2,799,439,100
3Avatar: The Way of Water$2,268,743,167
117 more rows

What is the highest grossing film in Hong Kong? ›

A Guilty Conscience

How popular are movies in China? ›

After retaining its title as the world's largest film market in both 2020 and 2021, China relinquished its box office crown back to North America in 2022. Registering 36 percent down from the previous year and less than half of the pre-pandemic levels, China's cinema ticket sales grossed only 30 billion yuan.

Which is the hottest Chinese drama? ›

  • Thousand Years For You 请君 (Ongoing)
  • Hu Tong 胡同 (Ongoing)
  • Love Between Fairy And Devil 苍兰诀
  • Who Rules The World 且试天下
  • Love Like The Galaxy: Part One & Two 星汉灿烂/月升沧海
  • Immortal Samsara: Part One & Two 沉香如屑/沉香重华
  • A Dream Of Splendor 梦华录
  • The Blue Whisper: Part One & Two 与君初相识/恰似故人归
Jan 18, 2023

What is the most popular Chinese drama on Netflix? ›

The Best Chinese Shows on Netflix
  • Take My Brother Away. If you enjoy TV shows that explore the slice of life genre then this show is for you. ...
  • Chosen. ...
  • Meteor Garden. ...
  • The King's Avatar. ...
  • Well Intended Love. ...
  • The Victims' Game.

Which Chinese drama has the highest IMDb rating? ›

TV Series, China (Sorted by IMDb Rating Descending)
  1. Justice in the Dark (2023) 10.0. ...
  2. Wo men de xi nan lian da (2020– ) Drama. ...
  3. Never Grow Old (2022– ) Drama. ...
  4. Let Go of My Baby (2018– ) 70 min | Reality-TV. ...
  5. The Starry Love (2023) ...
  6. Hao Yi Xing (2021– ) ...
  7. Da Huo Ji Yu Gong Zhu Qun (2022– ) ...
  8. Shen quan Xiao Qi 2 (2016)

Who is the top celebrity in China? ›

Zanila Zhao

What is America's favorite Chinese dish? ›

General Tso Chicken – According to Grubhub, this sweet fried chicken dish is the most popular Chinese food in America. It's also unhealthy, considering that it is deep-fried and the recipe demands tons of sugar.

What is the main religion in China? ›

Chinese Buddhism and Folk Religions

China has the world's largest Buddhist population, with an estimated 185–250 million practitioners, according to Freedom House. Though Buddhism originated in India, it has a long history and tradition in China and today is the country's largest institutionalized religion.

Do Chinese watch American TV shows? ›

American culture is very present in China through contemporary TV shows. Since China opened up its economy in the 1980's, American TV shows have been a way for Chinese people to practice English, while also learning about pop culture and getting entertained at the same time.

What is Japan's version of Hollywood? ›

Kyoto – The “Hollywood of Japan” - A Companion to Japanese Cinema - Wiley Online Library.

What is Korean Hollywood called? ›

Hallyuwood, a compound word combining the word Hallyu (Korean Wave) with wood from Hollywood, is the informal term popularly used to describe the Korean-language entertainment and film industry in South Korea.

Where do most Chinese celebrities live? ›

As the capital and cultural center of China, Beijing is the most popular place for celebrities to set up home.

Who has the most followers on Instagram in China? ›

Top Instagram Influencers
1Jay Chou 周杰倫 @jaychou7.9M
2Galaxy Fanfan @kriswu7.2M
3Javi Mascherano @mascherano146.1M
4王力宏 Wang Leehom @wangleehom5M
69 more rows

What social media do Chinese celebrities use? ›


Kuaishou is currently the second-largest short video platform in China, with more than 300 million DAU. It is rapidly becoming popular in cities below the second tier in China. While most social media is dominated by celebrities and influencers, Kuaishou amplifies the voice of ordinary people and their lives.

Is Marvel allowed in China? ›

Marvel and Disney can breathe a sigh of relief, as China has ended its three-and-a-half year ban on all Marvel movie releases in the country. Now, for the first time since 2019, a Marvel Studios production will finally be released in Chinese theaters.

What Disney movie did China ban? ›

Seven films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly from Disney, were banned in China including Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) in 2021. This year, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther were also banned.

Is Black Panther banned in China? ›

China's Movie Censorship: 'Black Panther' And 'Ant Man' Sequels Approved After Past Marvel Films—And 'Top Gun'—Were Banned.

Is TikTok allowed in China? ›

China and other countries do ban US apps. The TikTok app doesn't even exist in China. It has a domestic version, called Douyin, instead. TikTok also isn't in India, which banned it in 2020.

Is Google ban in China? ›

"The block is indiscriminate as all Google services in all countries, encrypted or not, are now blocked in China. This blockage includes Google search, images, Gmail and almost all other products. In addition, the block covers Google Hong Kong,, and all other country specific versions, e.g., Google Japan.

What is China's number one movie? ›

The Battle at Lake Changjin

What movies are not allowed in China? ›

However, since 2019, the films Black Widow, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder have all been denied release in China.

Which country makes more movies than USA? ›

Movie Production Countries
Production CountriesNo. of MoviesTotal Worldwide Box Office
United States23,231$613,789,978,188
United Kingdom4,189$53,720,306,827
103 more rows

What is the largest video streaming in China? ›

Tencent Video is China's largest long-form video streaming platform. It disclosed 120 million paying subscribers as of Sept. 2022.

Why is Google blocked in China? ›

Google pulled its search engine from China in 2010 because of heavy government internet censorship. Since then, Google has had a difficult relationship with the Chinese market. The end of Google Translate in China marks a further retreat by the U.S. technology giant from the world's second-largest economy.

Is it legal to use a VPN in China? ›

Yes, using a VPN is legal in China. Even though China has severe restrictions on VPN usage and blocks many VPN providers, consumers can legally use VPNs that still work in China.

Does China ban American movies? ›

China hasn't released a Marvel movie since Spider-Man: Far From Home in July 2019. And China generally has released fewer U.S. films recently, with the December release of Avatar: The Way Of Water, a relatively rare event. China's government has been censoring Hollywood films since Star Wars came out in 1977.

Why are there no movies in China? ›

Many Hollywood movies aren't shown in China because they don't abide the country's Film Administration regulations.

Why is China blocking Marvel movies? ›

Experts have speculated the reasons could include the inclusion of LGBTQ characters, comments critical of China by people involved in the films, like “Eternals” director Chloé Zhao, and broader U.S.-China tensions over trade and other issues.

Why did China ban Spider-Man: No Way Home? ›

The latest Spider-Man blockbuster was banned from release in China after Sony refused to remove scenes of America that Beijing deemed "too patriotic", including images of the superhero swinging around the Statue of Liberty, according to a media report.

Is Disney blocked in China? ›

Is Disney blocked in China? No, the Disney+ service isn't blocked in China. However, since Disney hasn't launched the service in Asia yet, users are currently unable to stream the content. Even if you've paid for a Disney+ subscription in your home country, you won't be able to open and stream the movies in China.

When did China allow American movies? ›

Chinese theaters were largely closed off to the world until 1994, when Hollywood studios were allowed to export 10 movies a year to the country. At the time, $3 million represented a record-setting gross in China.


1. Top 20 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the Century (So Far)
2. What Happened When I Asked College Students THIS ONE Question?
3. Top 10 Best Kung Fu Movies of All Time
4. Top 20 Action Movies of the Century (So Far)
5. Top 10 Martial Arts Movies By Shaw Brothers Studios!
(Marvelous Videos)
6. This New American Nuclear Bomb Shocked Russia
(Daily Aviation)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aracelis Kilback

Last Updated: 09/05/2023

Views: 6324

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aracelis Kilback

Birthday: 1994-11-22

Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

Phone: +5992291857476

Job: Legal Officer

Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.