While Hong Kong filmmakers have a gift for action, they tend to overdo it in the melodrama department, at least when it comes to watching their films through Western eyes. Perhaps the worst Hong Kong film I've seen to date is Jackie Chan's Heart of Dragon (1985), which features Jackie caring for his developmentally disabled brother (played by goofball Sammo Hung, who co-directed). All the heartstring tugging made me want to claw my eyes out. Or take another look at a masterpiece like John Woo's The Killer and you'll see an operatic hugeness to the emotional scenes -- especially between men -- that an American would never even dream, much less dare. These folks have an extremely high tolerance level for sentimentality; it takes an enormous amount before their sap detectors begin going off.

The same goes for action director and one-man HK film industry Johnny To (also known as "Johnnie To Kei-Fung"). To was a fairly minor director during Hong Kong's exciting late 1980s/early 1990s heyday, when imported films began to tantalize American viewers bored with big explosions and Vietnam rescue flicks. His biggest credit was as co-director on the exceptional supernatural superhero movie The Heroic Trio (1992). But after the 1997 handover to China, when most other filmmakers withdrew or abandoned ship, To flourished and eventually became the country's most successful and exciting filmmaker. His action hits included: The Mission (1999), Running Out of Time (1999), Help!!! (2000), Fulltime Killer (2001), Running Out of Time 2 (2003), Running on Karma (2003), Breaking News (2004), Election (2005), Triad Election (2006) and Exiled (2007), along with some 40 other films.