Director Patrick Tam has picked up five trophies at the Hong Kong Film Awards with his first film in 17 years.
Tam quit directing for teaching and film editing in 1989
After This Our Exile, which tells the story of a gambling addict who forces his son to steal to make ends meet, won best film, director and screenplay.
Ten-year-old Ian Gouw was named best supporting actor and best newcomer for his role in the downbeat drama.
Miami Vice and Memoirs of a Geisha star Gong Li won best actress for imperial epic Curse of the Golden Flower.
Gong plays an empress who helps stage a coup in the film, from House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou.
The Chinese film-maker also won the best Asian film prize for his low-key drama Riding Alone for Thousands Of Miles.
Hollywood stars Jet Li and Chow Yun-fat lost in the best actor category to Lau Ching-wan, who was cited for the little-known comedy My Name Is Fame.
Patrick Tam's win comes 18 years after he quit directing to concentrate on teaching and film editing.
The 59-year-old's victory came at the expense of respected director Johnnie To, who had two nominations in both the best film and best director categories for his gangster movies Election 2 and Exiled.
"Patrick Tam deserved the prizes," film critic Jason Lam told the AFP news agency.
"His film was totally different from most of Hong Kong's mainstream commercial films. This is the year's most important film."
The man behind the balletic fight sequences in The Matrix and Kill Bill, Yuen Wo-ping, beat martial arts hero Jackie Chan to win the best action choreography trophy for Fearless.
Entertainment mogul Run Run Shaw, who founded the famous Chinese movie studio Shaw Brothers and later launched the local TV station TVB, was given the lifetime achievement award.