Lunar New Year movies are not what they used to be. Traditionally this was the time of year when films focused on happy family dramas, but not any more. It all started changing five years ago when an action film was released at this traditional family time. Now Lunar New Year movies cover all the genres. This says a lot about young people today. We would rather see movies with our friends than our families. There, I've said it. It's terrible, but true. 'Having visited their relatives, people tended to go see movies in big groups, but this does not happen any more,' says veteran film director Clifton Ko Chi-sum. 'The society's ideology and family values have changed. People now see Lunar New Year differently. Some may leave town. Some might just sleep through the holiday.' Film critic Bono Lee agrees. 'Lunar New Year does not have such a big impact any more. Hong Kong people do not celebrate this festival as much as they did. That's why these films have become more diversified instead of just wishing everyone a happy new year,' Lee says. Hong Kong's Lunar New Year films are a unique phenomenon in world cinema. Rather than simply being a major season for blockbusters, the festive celebration is often the key theme of the films. Lee says that the important elements include luck and wealth, traditional virtues and happy endings. Ko, who has directed more than 10 Lunar New Year box-office hits including It's A Mad Mad Mad World (1987) and All's Well Ends Well (1992), says this cinematic tradition began in the 1970s. Between the 1980s and early 1990s was a golden period. 'Most of the audience did not have money to travel overseas. Thus apart from visiting relatives, the only alternative was to see movies,' says Ko. The tradition of Lunar New Year movies began to spread to the mainland in the mid-1990s. While movies from Hong Kong are popular in the south, directors in the north, such as Feng Xiaogang, begin to produce mainland alternatives. Following similar themes and an ensemble cast, Ko says Lunar New Year films could have evolved into an entirely new film genre, but this never happened because of one action film that topped the box office in 1998. 'Tokyo Raiders [starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Ekin Cheng] was the first successful non-traditional Lunar New Year film,' says Ko. 'It changed the form of Lunar New Year films. Family themes were replaced.' He adds that the rise of alternative forms of entertainment such as the Internet have diminished the importance of movies. 'The public's taste of movies is too diversified. It's impossible to make a family film catering all ages any more,' says Ko. What's in? Silver Hawk Sci-fi butt-kicking action flick starring ex-bond girl Michelle Yeoh and pop heart-throb Richie Jen. Magic Kitchen Pop star Sammi Cheng Sau-man stars as a chef who is dumped by boyfriend, played by Andy Lau Tak-wah. She later discovers that her assistant, F4's Jerry Yen Chen-shu, is in love with her. Fantasia This is a nostalgic comedy featuring images of former Hong Kong icons, played by Twins, Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi, and Golden Horse best actor Francis Ng Chun-yu.