If your Cantonese is a little rusty, requesting your favorite import at Pioneer Video might require a translator, as few of the store’s employees seem to have much by way of English. But it’s so worth it. The movies — mostly fresh-off-the-boat releases from Hong Kong studios — hold the kind of cinematic excitement that could make Passenger 57-era Wesley Snipes seem like a snooze. Doubt it? Check out Days of Being Wild, Once a Thief, Once Upon a Time in China, God of Gamblers, or Twin Dragons (to name but a few). These contemporary Chinese flicks bristle with caffeinated action. For martial arts cinemaphiles looking for the classic kung-fu formula, Pioneer also has a stock of lesser-known treasures, including very early movies of Americanized stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Chow Yun-Fat. Best of all, Pioneer will satisfy your martial arts fix cheaply, through prepaid rental plans (75 movies for $100) that allow you to rent for the price of a soda.
2655 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-1118