best film: Raise the Red Lantern is Li’s best film, but like her list of top five performances below, in a relatively brief filmography she’s been in many outstanding films from Red Sorghum, to Farewell My Concubine to 2046. Even Miami Vice (which I don’t think she’s amazing in) is an underrated film. But Raise the Red Lantern is a masterpiece and it stands as the best film from Yimou Zhang and the best film from that Fifth generation of Chinese filmmakers.

best performance:  Gong Li in Raise the Red Lantern is one of the best performances of the 1990’s. It’s an unnerving performance. She masters both the cold stare and the loud (sometimes angry sometimes in pain) emote. Red Sorghum is a stronger neo-realistic wide-eyed performance but she’s on another level here.

stylistic innovations/traits: She was the muse of both Yimou Zhang (her best work here) and Kaige Chen—making her the seminal actor of the 5th generation of brilliant Chinese auteurs. Red Sorghum was her debut and it’s paralyzing accomplished. She’s also only been in 32 total films to date.

directors worked with: Yimou Zhang (6), Kaige Chen (2) and then once with WKW and Michael Mann

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Raise the Red Lantern
  2. Red Sorghum
  3. The Story of Qui Ju
  4. Farewell My Concubine
  5. 2046

Archiveable films

1987- Red Sorghum
1990- Ju Dou
1991- Raise the Red Lantern
1992- The Story of Qui Ju
1993- Farewell My Concubine
1995- Shanghai Triad
1998- Emperor and the Assassin
2004- 2046
2006- Miami Vice
2006- The Curse of Golden Flower