I was born in the early '90s and started C-Dramas since then, so my picks of handsome men will be so much more like what your mother and aunts would pick.
My picks are almost all the most underrated guys.
Please share your picks with me too.
I am fond of ancient garbs drama, it makes actors and actresses look very cool if styled correctly.
I watched the shows made in the 80s. It's a lot of content to pick from if I'm counting everyone since the 80s to present. My favorite faces happen to be the ones from the 90s to the mid-2000s.
Actors in the 80s are real kungfu masters with great acting skills. This group cared the least about looks and focused on talents almost entirely.
In the 90s - 2000s, a group of really good looking faces emerged. This is the golden age of C-Dramas to me. Although many of them are not real kungfu experts, they are so good at mimicking the skills that they would fool you. If you see little kids copying an actor's fake kungfu, you know the actor did something right. During this time, kids and adults alike are crazy after these people. Thank God there was no Internet so fans couldn't be as scary as today. Even after finding out the truth of how stunt doubles are involved in the dramas, it has no effect on the actors or the characters they portray. Everything still looked so real. This group pays great attention to how they look, but they are still really serious about talents at the same time.
In the present time, you won't see any ugly actor acting. Everybody looks very good, perhaps almost identical a lot of times. Little kids do not copy these actor's martial arts, it's obvious to see right through them. I find present actors really good looking, but handsome in a different way. They are rather beautiful and smooth looking, they have less of the roughness and masculine features from the past.
Everyone will define handsomeness differently. Below are just my picks of actors during the times when they are still at the heights of their careers. I'll also share some of the dramas these actors starred in.
1. JET LI
It's no surprise if your mom once fell in love with Jet Li. I did too as a kid. What people think of him today is entirely different, but undoubtedly the young Jet Li in the 90s is amazingly charming.
I don't have to give any stalker guide to this guy, you can randomly pick any of his blockbuster movies. But of course, my favorite ones are the ancient garbs like Kids From Shaolin 1984 and The Legend I & II 1993 (Fong Sai Yuk).
2. VINCENT JIAO AKA JIAO EN JUN
This actor is very versatile, he played roles ranging from villains to heroes. He set up a really good example of what a Wuxia Hero is like. I find him so handsome because he looks like a hero.
Qi Xia Wu Yi 七俠五義 (1994) - Zhan Zhao
This drama is super old so I don't think there will ever be English subtitles for it. Out of all the Justice Bao series, Qi Xia Wu Yi is my favorite. Even though I think Kenny Ho is the best Zhan Zhao, I really adore Vincent's version here because of his combination with Sun Xing as Bai Yutang. Zhan Zhao is an extremely famous fictional character who protects Bao Zheng and upholds justice. His character is the quiet type. The emperor entitles him as the "Royal Cat". Bai Yutang is the youngest and best fighter of the "Five Rats", he is arrogant and always jealous in an adorable way. Their type of bromance is the bickering type because Bai Yutang always blames him and he tries to make peace with Bai Yutang.
Tears in Heaven 蒼天有淚 (1997)
This drama is old as well and I don't think there will be English subtitles. Vincent plays the antagonist here, he would make you hate him. Should you watch this drama for him? Maybe not, unless you want to see how good he is at being evil. The story as a whole isn't bad. The leading ladies (Shui Ling and Athena Chu) are beautiful and the main guys are okay. Even though Vincent is evil, his character can still be hilarious and entertaining sometimes.
Swordsman III 刀--迴旋刀 (1999)
I believe I saw English subtitles for this drama before if you're lucky you might find it. Out of all the Swordsman short series, my favorite is the one with Dicky Cheung in it, along with a bunch of beautiful ladies (highly recommend it - eng subs also available!). This series with Vincent in it isn't the best, but still entertaining enough. It stars the beautiful Ho Mei Tian (who looks like Kim Tae Hee) and Alyssa Chia, so check it out if you love the castings.
Legend of Dagger Li (1999)
No subs. I kind of hate this drama because of the story, but the acting and OST are so good. Vincent looks like a hero, his wuxia air is very attractive even with curly hair that I don't understand. If you are a fan of Gu Long (famous Wuxia writer like Jin Yong), you might want to check it out. It is a tragic ending.
The Switch (2000)
There are English subs! Watch this! It's a must!
Vincent plays a naughty king who goes out in common clothes and fools around. Don't take it seriously in historical context. It's highly entertaining, his character is super fun and cute. Who doesn't like a king who is a good fighter and so naughty?
Madam White Snake (2001)
No English sub for this, but I love this series and would recommend it. I would say it's about an 8/10 for the storyline, some parts can be a little boring. But I love the whole casting and OST. Vincent plays as the monk Fa Hai. Why is Fai Hai so handsome? His romance with the green snake is subtle, but everyone I know that watched it shipped them super hard.
Wu Dang (2003)
I watched it a long time ago, all I remember is Carman Lee is very beautiful in this. No English subs either. Watch it if you love Wuxia.
Lotus Lantern (CCTV, 2005)
There are English subs, the story overall isn't bad. Watch it for Vincent? Sure. He plays the supporting role as Er Lang Shen, his role is quite entertaining too. The main leads look like little kids but it's not that bad of a show.
3. SUN XING
Another extremely versatile actor, ranging from villains (even those Hong Kong gangsters movies) to heroes. He's really underrated. He does look old and played tons of miscellaneous support roles that I won't list them here, so I'll just list the notable ones I'd seen. This guy can really squeeze his face and come up with thousands of different looks, he's the most creative actor I'd ever seen. I think he dubbed himself most of the time, he has a very good voice.
Qi Xia Wu Yi 七俠五義 (1994)
The drama I explained above where Vincent plays as Zhan Zhao and Sun Xing as Bai Yutang. I don't know if Sun Xing has a martial arts background but he always shows off his manly stunts in all his dramas and they are very attractive.
Yi Tian Tu Long Ji (TTV, 1993)
Sadly there aren't English subtitles. This is based on Jin Yong's famous novel, Heavenly Sword Dragon Saber. This version isn't bad at all, I love the OST. Watch it for Sun Xing? Definitely! He only appears around the beginning for a few episodes but he is heart robbing. Watch his scenes if you love Stockholm Syndrome (JK). There are some English subs for the Yang Xiao & Xiao Fu scenes on Dailymotion.
Bewitched! 家有仙妻清晰版 (1991)
No English subs, but this is a very entertaining show. Sun Xing is super funny in it.
State of Divinity (2000)
This drama is also known as Swordsman. The lead in this version is Richie Ren, the OST is nice.
Sun Xing plays as the rapist Tian Bo Guang. He is annoying and funny in a way, I guess that's just very Tian Bo Guang if you watch other versions of Swordsman too. Sun Xing is a master of disguise, I did not realize he played Tian Boguang until a recent rewatch. He puts on thick eyebrows, squeezes his face 99% of the time, and throws in funny accents that make him unrecognizable. He's so silly!
Palm of Ru Lai (2004)
Not sure if there are English subs available, but this is a good drama overall. Watch it if you love Wuxia, I would recommend it. Watch it for Sun Xing? No, his role is minor. He's older in here although still highly attractive. The leads are good, it starred Athena Chu, Julian Cheung, Chen Long, Christopher Lee, etc.
4. HUANG HAI BING
Very Handsome! Very versatile as well, he played both hero and villain roles so well. In Wuxia-land, he always rode his horse with a sword in his hand like a boss! This is my numero uno swordsman.
Wind Storm (1999)
The very old and rare show, there won't be any subtitles. He plays the villain's son in this one, he is spoiled and cruel. The story overall is a terrible mess. Everyone acted well but that didn't help. I am a huge fan of Wallace Chung, who plays the male lead. I thought I would love this combination of him and Huang Hai Bing together. The story did Wallace Chung really dirty. Although Huang Hai Bing plays it realistically hateful, at least his role makes him so adorable when he's around Ho Mei Tian's character. When he's with her, he turns into an entirely different person. I even liked Huang Hai Bing's role in this show more than Wallace Chung.
Mission of the Warriors as Shen Lang (2001)
Unfortunately no English subs. This drama is based on Gu Long's novel. If you like romantic Wuxia, check this one out. I love the casting. Huang Hai Bing's character is really cool, he pulls on a lazy smile all the time, it's very handsome.
Smart Kid as 6th Prince / Ha Sang (2001)
After a huge success as a hero, seeing him play this villain role is kind of funny because you know that is your hero only pretending to act badly. Don't watch this show for him, he appeared for only a few episodes and not important to the story. I don't quite remember this show, but you might want to watch it if you are a huge fan of Dicky Cheung and Li Bing Bing.
King of Kings 王中王 as Xu Fang He (2001)
No subs too but if there are, I would recommend it. I'm a huge fan of the main actress Shui Ling. I'm totally in love with their ship, but when he kissed the second female lead, I have to admit it was very hot. I should hate him for cheating, but I guess the second female lead is also beautiful and very good at acting. In today's age, the male lead must never be like Xu Fang He, unless he wants netizens to complain about his character online.
This is one of those rare shows where the antagonist is the main character of the story. I really like Huang Hai Bing in here most of all, regardless of anything he'd done that modern thinking cannot accept. I'm also a Gallen Lo fan, he's the protagonist but not the main character. The scripting is quite interesting and makes it very entertaining.
The Royal Diehard 英雄 as Zhao Zheng (2003)
No subs but another recommendation if there are, I like the story and OST. Huang Hai Bing's character is heroic but also silly and cute at times. It kinds of following historical context too.
Zai Sheng Yuan as Huangfu Shao Hua (2006)
It's been too long I can't remember, but I remember I was more fond of the villain in this show played by Chen Long. You might not want to watch this show because of Huang Hai Bing. The leading actress is Li Bing Bing.
5. NIE YUAN
Wrong Carriage, Right Groom (2000)
There used to be English subs but were taken down. I saw 2 episodes with English subs on YouTube with higher quality than I saw in the past. I highly recommend it. There were rumors over the years that some directors wanted to do a remake. Nie Yuan is skinny and young in this show, he looks kind of different. Regardless of that, his character is very cute and playful, smart and nice. The entire show is really good and all the cast did really well too.
A Chinese Ghost Story (2003)
There are English subs for this so don't miss it. This is one of my favorite dramas of all time. Storyline and OSTs are the best ever. Nie Yuan is not the main lead but he is the most handsome and lovable. I think he aged so he looked really handsome in this drama compare to WCRG. His character is relatively quiet, nice, charming, and strong. I love the entire casting. We get to see Jacky Wu, Jessica Hsu, Barbie Xu, Daniel Chan, and even Yuen Wah.
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain (2005)
There should be English subs somewhere. It's not a bad drama, it kinds of feels like ROTCH 2006 without the music. Nie Yuan looks great, and the story isn't too bad. It's not the best to me but I would not say it's a waste of time, I enjoyed it overall. Watch it if you love Wuxia.
Story of Yanxi Palace (2018)
This is a great show, Nie Yuan is the main character but don't watch it because he's in it, because he might not come off that likable. This is quite a new drama, he stopped doing dramas for a while. I really recommend this one, the leads are exceptionally good.
The Legend of Haolan (2019)
If you love Story of Yanxi Palace you might want to watch this because all the same cast is in here, I enjoyed it till the middle half only. It gets really draggy towards the end. Like Yanxi Palace, don't watch it because Nie Yuan is in here if you're his fan, his role can be likable/unlikeable depending on how you interpret it. The leads are smart and funny for the first half, which was worthwhile.
6. HOWIE HUANG
Dark Tales 1998
I'm not sure if it will ever get subbed. The Dark Tales series contain many short stories. I particularly like the one with Howie Huang and Grace Yu, titled, Fight of the In-laws 翁婿鬥法. Howie's character is very cute and fun. I got to admit, he looks muscular with all those veins on his wrist and it's very attractive. I highly recommend the entire Dark Tale series, especially this story. He plays as a Daoist and his wife is a fox girl who is kind, but her family is not.
Chess Warriors (2000)
There are English subs! I highly recommend this show, not because Howie is in it, but the entire show is really good. I like all the casting, it included Dicky Cheung, Ho Mei Tian, and Amy Tan. The storyline is interesting.
Wen Jun Neng You Ji Duo Chou (2006)
I think there are English subs. It's not in my favorites, but I really enjoyed it. Liu Tao is beautiful. I don't think it followed history completely closely, but it's still a nice one if you like history. It's still quite accurate and I find it really interesting. We get to see the story of Zhou E Huang, how Li Hou Zhu lost the kingdom, how Zhao Kuangyin took over but his younger brother succeeded. If you'd ever listened to Teresa Teng's famous song before, call "Ji Duo Chou", they play this music and tune here and it's very touching. The ending is super heartbreaking.
7. PATRICK TAM
If you know I like Noel Leung Siu Bing, Patrick Tam might not be a surprise.
Dark Tales II (1998)
Dark Tales II also has lots of mini-stories. One of my favorites from Dark Tales II is "World of Drunk Flowers" 花醉紅塵. It starred Noel Leung Siu Bing and Patrick Tam. She plays as Red Peony, a flower goddess. The princess is naughty and makes all the fairies sneak to play on earth for a short while. A fox spirit saw the fairies and steals the princess's magical stone. Red Peony stays on earth with the main guy for a while, trying to retrieve the item back. They fell in love but humans and deities cannot stay together.
Chinese Paladin (CTV/TCS, 2005)
There are English subs, watch this, it is a must!
I was so happy when I saw Patrick in the ever famous Chinese Paladin I. He only appears for a few episodes, but his story is so touching and heartbreaking. He's even better looking here than when he was young. Just when I thought the female lead (Liu Yifei) is the most beautiful girl ever in the whole world, Jiang Xin's beautiful appearance makes me have a second thought. I totally love the Jiang Xin & Patrick Tam pairing here, love it how he protects his fox wife. I must repeat I highly recommend the entire show. I love the entire castings and OST.
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain (2006)
He plays a villain role, but his role is still interesting and entertaining. Again, not a bad drama to catch.
8. JULIAN CHEUNG
The Legend of the Condor Heroes (1994) as Guo Jing
I never watched this, but I'd seen very short clips of it. He plays Guo Jing and Athena Chu plays Huang Rong.
Romance of the White Haired Maiden (1999) as Zhuo Yihang
I watched this because my favorite Shui Ling is in it. It was how I get to like Julian, he's really handsome with those dimples. There's no English sub for this old drama. I love this drama, give it a try if you like romantic Wuxia.
The Legend of Lu Xiaofeng (2007) as Lu Xiaofeng
There used to be English subs on YouTube. I enjoyed this show very much. I love whoever dubbed his voice. If you love Wuxia, you will love this one.
Flying Daggers (2003) as Li Huai
It's been too long I can't remember the whole thing but I know had a good impression of this show. It starred Ruby Lin and Dong Jie. Ruby is cold and ruthless while Julian is playful and naughty.
Ni Shui Han AKA Treacherous Water (2004)
I think AvenueX did a review on this before. I saw the English subtitles on AZNV.TV a very long time ago but I don't know if that platform still exists. The drama has very good reviews.
9. KEN CHANG
The Legend of Lu Xiao Feng (2007) as Hua Manlou
This guy is so handsome as Hua Manlou, Lu Xiao Feng's friend. Again, watch it if you love Wuxia.
Legendary Fighter - Yang's Heroine (2001) as Yang Zhongbao
I don't even know how to find this drama, not to mention English subs. I think this is Ken's first drama. Yang Zongbao is a famous historical person when this drama aired all I heard everyone say is Yang Zongbao is so handsome. Yes, he is!
Legend of Heaven and Earth: The Mermaid (2002) as Tomodo Tsuyoshi
I love this drama very much, it's one of my top favorites. Too bad there are no English subs, it really deserves to get subbed. Ken is only the supporting role as a Daoist but he is super funny and charming. If you love mermaids, watch this drama.
Eternal Love (2017) as Zhe Yan
Glad to see his return as Zhe Yan in Ten Miles of Peach Blossom!
10. CHEN LONG AKA JOHNNY CHEN
The Patriotic Knights (2006) as Jin Zhu Liu
If you love Wuxia, you might want to check it out. I never watched it, I saw a little bit of the beginning it's not quite my cup of tea and I didn't quite like the female lead. But he looks so handsome and awesome in this show!
Fairy of the Chalice (2006) as Tie Mu
WATCH THIS! WATCH THIS! There are English subs. I love this show so much, this is also one of my top favorites. Chen Long only plays a small role, but he is super duper charming. He has a rough type of look, like a tough leader, but he's so warm and nice! Who wouldn't fall for this guy? The entire drama is super entertaining. I love the leads, it starred Zhang Ting, Liu Tao, Roger Kwok, etc.
The Young Warriors (2006) as Yang Wu Lang
WATCH THIS! There are English subs. This guy is really underrated but I totally love his looks. I especially love it when he goes shy in this show. He worked with the cute little actress Bao Bao from Fairy of the Chalice again, I'm so happy to see their reunion here. This time she plays his baby sister, she's still so sassy and cute. Chen Long is once again not the main character, but his role is still important and entertaining enough. This is one of the best C-Dramas ever made, despite how tragic it is. I love all the characters in it.