A Chinese police drama featuring a cast of amateur actors on Saturday became the surprise best picture winner at Taiwan's annual Golden Horse Awards, dubbed the Chinese-language "Oscars."

"Beijing Blues," directed by Gao Qunshu and about plain cloth police hunting down thieves and con artists in Beijing, also bagged best cinematography and best film editing awards.

"This is really unexpected... I am only an amateur director who shot a few films. I didn't expect that I'd have anything to do with the Golden Horse," said Gao at the ceremony in Ilan county in northeastern Taiwan.

Acclaimed Hong Kong director Johnnie To's financial drama "Life Without Principle" also fared well, collecting best director for To, best leading actor for Lau Ching-wan and best original screenplay.

Lau played a simple and honest gangster in the movie that centers on the characters' struggles between money and principles in the midst of a financial crisis in Hong Kong.

To was absent from Saturday's ceremony while Lau, a first-time Golden Horse winner, dedicated the award to his family in a brief speech.

Taiwan's Gwei Lun-mei was crowned best leading actress for her role as a wilful and frustrating woman in the love story "Gf*Bf", also released as "Girlfriend Boyfriend".

"This award is a major encouragement for me. I love making films very much and I will continue to work hard," said Gwei, her voice cracking with emotion. Gwei became the first Taiwanese to take the title in six years.

Hong Kong singer-actor Ronald Cheng won best supporting actor for his role in "Vulgaria" while Liang Jing from China took best supporting actress for playing a mid-wife in the black comedy "Design of Death".

Chinese social satire "Mystery," directed by Lou Ye, only collected best new performer for actress Qi Xi and best original film score despite leading the race with seven nominations.

"Mystery" marked Lou's first film after he was banned from film-making for five years for showing his politically-charged love story "Summer Palace" at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval in 2006.

More than 30 films from Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong were nominated in the 49th edition of the Golden Horse Awards, styled after the US Academy Awards but decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes festival.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]