It is instructive to look at two separate international critics’ polls that identified noteworthy films from 2000-2009. The first poll appeared in http://dgeneratefilms.com (1). Forty-six film professionals were asked to pick the 10 best Chinese language films of the decade. Twenty-four of those polled were Chinese and 22 were non-Chinese, representing a variety of professional affiliations: 12 were university professors, 11 were critics, 11 were filmmakers/directors, five were scholars, five were film series/film festival programmers, one was an editor, while one critic’s professional affiliation was not listed. Six of these 46 participants included a Johnnie To film in their 10 best of the decade.
Triangle—Aurelia Dubouloz, film scholar
Sparrow--Brian Hu, PhD candidate
Breaking News—Huang Weikai, director
PTU—Shelly Kraicer, critic and film festival programmer
PTU—Edwin Mak, critic
Exiled—Michael Sicinski, university professor
This amounts to five different Johnnie To films selected by six participants. If the Honorable Mentions are also factored in, the results are as follows:
Election 1 and 2—Michael Berry, university professor
Election 1 and 2—Edwin Mak, critic
Election—William Phuan, programmer
PTU—William Phuan, programmer
The Mission—Bérénice Reynaud, academic (Technically, The Mission was released in Hong Kong in 1999, but it wasn’t shown in the West until 2000.)
PTU turns out to be the film with the highest profile among the critics, academics, directors and programmers surveyed by http://dgenerate.com. With the possible exception of PTU, it is apparent how little consensus there is among the film critics and professionals about what constitutes Johnnie To’s best films.