by Ceki, October 15, 2015
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Asian cinema is filled with a huge variety of films, and even though everyone has their own taste, there are some really significant masterpieces that have left a huge impact on the filmography and influenced people all over the world - and that makes them a must see!

Let's take a look at some of them now...


Seven Samurai

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WHY SO GREAT?

Unless you've lived under a rock your whole life, you probably know about Akira Kurosawa, one of the most celebrated filmmakers in history. Seven Samurai is a perfect mixture of action, both internal and external; and character. The story follows seven samurai who are hired by a poor village in order to save them from a band of bandits. It is a battle between good and evil, between freedom and oppression. It sent Kurosawa to the stardom of filmography during the Golden Age of Asian cinema. It was also a breakthrough role for the legendary Toshiro Mifune.

INTERESTING INFO

  •  It influenced the production of a remake The Magnificent Seven.
  •  It is ranked #1 on Empire magazine's list of "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema".
  •  It received 100% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • In Star Wars: Episode III, Yoda scratches the back of his head when thinking, just as Kambei does throughout Seven Samurai.
  • It won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

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Oldboy

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WHY SO GREAT?

A famous mystery and thriller film directed by Park Chan Wook who is known for his brutal style and black humor. Following the story of a man who was captured 15 years without any knowledge why or by whom and his quest for the truth, the film depicts the depth of a human's heart and its darkness.

INTERESTING INFO

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House of Flying Daggers

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WHY SO GREAT?

Artistically beautiful and tragically romantic, this wuxia masterpiece by Zhang Yimou, known for his use of symbolic colors, has been well received everywhere in the worlds' cinemas. Set during the decline of the Tang dynasty, two policemen must find and kill the leader of the rebel group called the House of Flying Daggers, and the only connection they have to them is a blind girl. But what happens when one of them falls for her?

INTERESTING INFO

  • The film set Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau as the leading actors in Asian cinema.
  • It received 88% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
  •  It was nominated for nine BAFTA film awards, one Oscar and one Golden Globe award.
  • The film is dedicated to the actress and singer Anita Mui.
  • Most of the film scenes were filmed in Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains.

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Hero

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WHY SO GREAT?

Another gem by Zhang Yimou, this epic film set in 227 BC employs wuxia elements and the battle for freedom and security, but on a larger scale. If you would like to see Jet Li, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in all their splendor, you should start from this. With its bittersweet and enlightening message, the film was not only the highest-grossing motion picture in Chinese film history, but also a great success in the international cinema.

INTERESTING INFO

  •  It was nominated for one Oscar and one Golden Globe Award.
  • It received 95% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It is known as one of the most visually stunning films ever done.

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Infernal Affairs

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WHY SO GREAT?

This amazing crime thriller film is a collaboration between Andy Lau and Tony Leung. With its original plot, concise and swift storytelling style, this film is a must see for all fans of thrillers and good acting.

INTERESTING INFO

  •  The English title is a word play combining the law enforcement term "internal affairs" with the adjective "infernal".
  • The Chinese title means "The Unceasing Path", a reference to Avici, the lowest level of hell in Buddhism, where one endures suffering constantly.
  • The film was remade as The Departed.
  • It received 95% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
  •  It won 23 awards.
  • There are two sequels - Infernal Affairs II and Infernal Affairs III.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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WHY SO GREAT?

Praised for its martial arts scenes, story, direction, musical score and cinematography, this film is one of the greatest and most influential foreign language films in the USA. The story follows two martial arts masters, a talented girl and her lover in the 18th century China.

INTERESTING INFO

  • It won over 40 awards, including four Academy Awards, four BAFTAs and two Golden Globe awards.
  • All four main actors speak with different accents in the film (Cantonese, Malaysian, Beijing and Taiwanese).
  •  It received 97% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

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Hachiko Monogatari

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WHY SO GREAT?

The Tale of Hachiko is considered one of the most beautiful tales made into a film about a friendship and affection between a man and dog. It is about an Akita dog named Hachiko who showed loyalty long after his owner's death.

INTERESTING INFO

  •  It is based on a true story of a dog named Hachi who was born in 1923 and lived for 8 years.
  • There is a remake named Hachi: A Dog's Tale.
  • The statue of Hachi can be seen even today at the Shibuya Station in Tokyo. His stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Tokyo.

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Rashomon

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WHY SO GREAT?

Considered one of the greatest Asian films ever made, this masterpiece by Akira Kurosawa features an innovative narrative structure, brilliant acting, and a thoughtful exploration of reality vs. perception. It consists of five parts: the bandit's story, the wife's story, the samurai's story, the woodcutter's story and the climax.

INTERESTING INFO

  •  It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and the Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards in 1952.
  • It received 100% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It is ranked #22 on Empire magazine's list of "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema".
  • The title refers to the real enormous gate.
  • The term Rashomon effect refers to the real-world situations in which multiple eye-witness testimonies of an event contain conflicting information.

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Ong Bak

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WHY SO GREAT?

Ong Bak was a huge worldwide hit, because of the hand-to-hand combat, acrobatic and inventive moves which were performed amazingly well without any CGI or wire-fu. This is a great action film that you should give a chance if you are into martial arts. 

INTERESTING INFO

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A Bittersweet Life

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WHY SO GREAT?

Praised for being a brutal and enjoyable ride of a gangster who for the first time in his time falls in love, gets almost killed for that, and sets on a path of vengeance. This film has been considered the best Korean film of 2005.

INTERESTING INFO

  • It holds a 100% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It is ranked #3 in Empire's "20 Greatest Gangster Movies You've Never Seen".
  •  It had more than 1,291,621 theatrical admissions.

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The Road Home

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WHY SO GREAT?

The famous romantic story between a teacher and young village girl was Ziyi Zhang's cinematic debut and the film's visual style and acting were specifically praised.

INTERESTING INFO

  • It holds an 89% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It won 16 awards, including the Jury Grand Prix and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.
  • It was based on a novel 'Remembrance' by Bao Shi.

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Departures

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WHY SO GREAT?

The story follows a young man who starts working as a traditional Japanese ritual mortician who faces prejudice from everyone around him. The film's humor and the quality of acting made it the year's highest-grossing domestic film including the first Japanese production to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

INTERESTING INFO

  • It holds an 81% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It won 33 awards, including one Oscar. 
  • The success of the film led to the increased tourist attractions as well as adapting the story for various media.

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Farewell My Concubine

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WHY SO GREAT?

Set during the Chinese mid-20th century political turmoil, the story follows two Peking male opera stars who are friends for decades, until a woman comes between them. Exploring the depth of human emotions, the film remains the only Chinese film to this date that won the Golden Palm.

INTERESTING INFO

  • It won 17 awards and it was nominated for two Oscars.
  • It holds a 88% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Jackie Chan was originally offered the role of Duan Xiaolou due to his own childhood experience of training in the Peking Opera. But he turned it down, fearing that the film, which deals with themes of homosexuality, might tarnish his image.
  •  Leslie Cheung was the first Hong Kong actor who acted in a mainland China film.

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Kung Fu Hustle

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WHY SO GREAT?

Famous for its striking visual cartoon-like style, the use of traditional Chinese music, black comedy and the use of special effects, Kung Fu Hustle was the highest-grossing film in the history of Hong Kong until it was surpassed by You Are the Apple of My Eye in 2011.

INTERESTING INFO

  • It holds a 90% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It won 23 awards, including the Golden Globe.
  • Kung Fu Hustle makes references to a wide range of films, animated cartoons, wuxia novels and other sources, such as: The Shining, Spiderman, The Godfather wtc.

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In the Mood for Love

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WHY SO GREAT?

The romantic drama with outstanding visuals, beautiful soundtrack and the sizzling chemistry between the main characters, who, believing in their spouses' infidelities, start seeing each other in order to overcome loneliness.

 INTERESTING INFO

  • It holds a 90% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  •  It won 48 awards, including the Best Actor award at 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
  •  It is ranked #42 at Empire's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" list.
  • It is the second film in the trilogy, preceded by Days of Being Wild and followed by 2046.

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Have you watched any of these films?

Thanks for reading!


Credits: wiki, imdb

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