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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

10 Asian Films To See

Hello A Very Sweet Blog readers! This is Rowena and I blog over at rolala loves. I'm absolutely thrilled that Kim has asked me to share some of my favorite Asian films with you all here today in honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year. My love affair with Asian movies began at a young age since I grew up in a Chinese household. 

Asian cinema has never been as popular as it today and has gained much recognition at many prestigious film festivals throughout the world. Some like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon have enjoyed international success, winning over 40 awards including an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. 

You may not even know it but many critically acclaimed Western directors draw heavy inspiration from a number of very influential and celebrated Asian filmmakers. In fact a number of Hollywood films are remakes of Asian favorites like Old Boy (Old Boy, The Departed (Infernal Affairs), The Lake House (Il Mare), Shall We Dance (Shall We Dance), The Ring (Ringu) to name a few. 

Subtitled Asian productions are quite accessible these days. You can watch them on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Asian entertainment video sites like Dramafever or Viki. These films are a selection of some of my favorites across a few genres. If any of these interest you, don't let subtitles intimidate you and give one a try! Don't forget to let us know what you think if you do. And if you've watched any Asian films before, do share your thoughts and favorites.

1. A Bittersweet Life : 2005 | South Korea | Director: Kim Jee Woon | 
Watch the trailer

A stylishly gripping gangster tale which may be one of the best in the noir genre. Lee Byung Hun who may be the sleekest gangster ever pulls off an emotionally charged performance as a mob enforcer who finds himself in terrible jeopardy after an act of mercy. This ultimately leads him down an extremely violent path of vengeance. 

2. A Good Rain Knows : 2009 | China/South Korea | Director: Hur Jin Ho | Watch the trailer

Dong Ha (Jung Woo Sung) and May (Gao Yuanyuan) who were once close as students in America, cross paths again in Chengdu, China. As they are reacquainted, old feelings are rekindled. Dreamily filmed against a picturesque backdrop, this film which is like a love letter to the city of Chengdu, presents an examination of the emotional journey in which a romantic relationship re-develops.

3. Chungking Express : 1995 | Hong Kong | Director: Wong Kar Wai | 
Watch the trailer

Like many others, I fell in love with auteur director Wong Kar Wai's work after watching this film which is comprised of two separate narratives. In the first, officer no. 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) hopelessly pursues mysterious woman (Brigitte Lin) following a breakup with his girlfriend. The second features a lovelorn officer no. 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and the charmingly quirky waitress (Faye Wong) at a lunch counter he frequents who becomes infatuated with him. The impressionistic colors and languorous camera work along with an intoxicating soundtrack make watching it quite an experience. 

4. Eat Drink Man Woman : 1994 | Taiwan | Director: Ang Lee | Watch the trailer

Before Ang Lee directed Brokeback Mountain and The Life of Pi, he made this heartwarming drama centering around a widowed Chinese master chef (Sihung Lung) who prepares a magnificent weekly banquet for his 3 single adult daughters. This poignant tale filled with surprises you won't expect is a wonderful exposition of family dynamics and cultural expectations. And the delectable presentations of Chinese food are food porn at it's best.

5. Heavenly Forest (Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru) | 2006 | Japan | Director: Takehiko Shinjo | Watch the trailer

This film features an incredibly powerful and heartrending love story that made me bawl my eyes out. It's told with humor, heart and gorgeous cinematography. Aoi Miyazaki is absolutely captivating as Shizuru who develops a crush on her friend Makoto (Hiroshi Tamaki) as they bond over a shared love of photography. She disappears from his life after they take a photo at her request for a photo contest in which they both share their first kiss. Two years later he receives an invitation to her photo exhibit in New York...

6. Hero : 2002 | China | Director: Zhang Yimou | Watch the trailer

This is an artistically epic feeling martial arts film with visually stunning action sequences, costumes and scenery. The cast and performances are solid. A man called Nameless (Jet Li) gains an audience with the ruthless king of Qin and relays a series of tales which may or may not be true of how he took down the 3 assassins; Broken Sword (Tony Leung), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Long Sky (Donnie Yen) who targeted the king. After listening, the king counters with his account of events before the sobering truth is revealed.

7. In The Mood For Love : 2000 | Hong Kong | Director: Wong Kar Wai | Watch the trailer

This is probably Wong Kar Wai's most acclaimed film. A deeply stirring tale of love and longing that is both aesthetically and dramatically arresting. Set in in Hong Kong during the 1960's, two neighbors form a bond after discovering that their respective spouses are having affairs. The nostalgic atmosphere adds to the sense of melancholy and restrained passion. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai both deliver beautifully nuanced performances. She also has one of the most amazing film wardrobes ever, never repeating any of the resplendent qipaos (Chinese style dress) she wears in every scene she appears in.

8. Love In A Puff | 2010 | Hong Kong | Director: Pang Ho Cheung | Watch the trailer

A witty, smart and fun romantic comedy set in Hong Kong two years after the country passed a public smoking ban. Cherie (Miriam Cheung) encounters Jimmy (Shawn Yue) during a smoke break in a public alleyway and they begin an awkward courtship. This film boasts a good deal of foul language, local references and jokes that may be lost in translation if you don't understand Chinese but that takes nothing away from the overall charm of the interaction between the main characters that feels very genuine and intimate. It's largely dialogue driven and works well thanks to the likable leads and their candid conversations filled with wry humor.

9. The Good, The Bad, The Weird | 2008 | South Korea | Director: Kim Ji Woon | Watch the trailer

A highly enjoyable Korean style western set against the Manchurian desert during the 1930's. The Weird (Song Kang Ho) steals a treasure map from a government official. The Bad (Lee Byung Hun) is sent after him to retrieve it. The Good (Jung Woo Sung) is a bounty hunter tracking both of them. A chase filled with unexpected humor and surprises ensues for the map with the Japanese army and Chinese bandits getting into the mix.

10. The Man From Nowhere : 2010 | South Korea | Director: Lee Jeong Beom | Watch the trailer

A well plotted action thriller with heart starring Won Bin as Tae Shik, a reclusive pawn shop owner who develops an unlikely and touching bond with his young neighbor (Kim Sae Ron). When the girl and her drug mule mother are kidnapped by drug dealers, Tae Shik embarks on a violent rampage to save his only friend while his dark past comes to light. I also have to say that Won Bin looks good even while disheveled and covered in blood and is a master at conveying emotion through his eyes and body language.

Rowena, you are truly a doll! THANK YOU so much for putting together this awesome list of your favorite Asian movies. I'm going to Netflix right now to fill up my DVD que. HaHaHa  I can't wait to watch them! I've only seen a couple of Asian movies: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (you mentioned above), Memoirs Of A Geisha, Curse of The Golden Flower and The Joy Luck Club. They were all very good. I encourage my readers to watch international films. Embrace them. You'll be surprised at how easy subtitles are to read. There's so much you can learn. I'm going to expand my knowledge by watching Asian, French, Spanish and Italian films. Add Rowena's Top 10 favorites to your viewing list :).



  1. I have only watched crouching tiger hidden dragon and geisha. Going to check out some of the others. Hope they have subtitles.

  2. Love all of these esp. In the Mood for Love and Hero has a special place in my heart! Looking forward to CNY! Hope you're well love. If anyone is going for comedy, these have a bit of a kick - Tai Tai Wan Sui - a 1947 black and white classic, Crazy Stone a black comedy and most of Stephen Chow's movies ( From Beijing with love, Kung Fu Hustle) if you want a lol kinda comedy.

  3. Wong kar wai, ozu and akira kurosawa are legends..i would like to add rashomon to the list..and norwegian wood, rhapsody in august were also lovely..i have seen many asian films, i like some were mandatory viewing for my course..i love this list :)

  4. I really have not watched enough Asian movies. I think I'll need to watch a few for Chinese New Year this weekend!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  5. I've only seen Crouching Tiger but the others are going on my list! Great post x

  6. Great post


  7. What a great list to discover, Kim! I've only seen the Dragon and The Memoirs from the ones mentioned above and The Memoirs is definitely my favourite (I can watch it over and over again for the story and the scenery).
    I've also seen the House of Flying Daggers and the Hero. And I'd say the Hero is watch watching, again for the scenery and sets etc. Very beautiful.

  8. Asian films are always interesting,love these ones here,For past years now have been dwelling in soaps like Eastenders and co lol.. and documentaries ,Think i need to wake up now, need to start watching movies again. Thanks for sharing kim.

  9. Most of these are new to me. These were detailed and helpful reviews and I would definitely like to see Memoirs of a Geisha Girl. A good idea to watch more international films. I enjoy watching French films when I get the opportunity.

  10. I've seen many of these, they are really good, I always love the effects and colours in all the films. Crouching Tiger was awesome!! Have a gorgeous day dolls x

  11. Cool recommendations !


  12. Lovely recommendations!

    Despite living in Australia I have to confess that I haven't seen any Asian films! Must really make that right next time they have a free movie in Chinatown :)

    Away From Blue

  13. I can't believe I still haven't seen In The Mood For Love considering how many have said it's amazing. Soon soon soon! And HERO sounds really good too.
    Thanks for sharing, Kim and Rowena:D You ladies both rock!!

  14. I have to take notes... Thanx for sharing this films, I don't know they before!

    Viky --- MySecretFashionPoison

  15. Well done Rowena! You did such a brilliant and amazing guest post here! I wish I knew more about Asian movies but to be honest I only know Memoirs of a Geisha (but cause I read the book, one of my ever fav). I need to watch the ones you listed, I believe Asian films are very good, the characters are real and always very deep. Kisses to you and Kim! xo

  16. I've had Eat Drink Man Woman on my Netflix list for some time now. It sounds similar to another foodie-type movie I loved - Tortilla Soup.

  17. This post is awesome, I've really enjoyed it :)

    I haven't seen any of the movies in Rowena's list but some of them are on my to watch list since long time ago (especially In The Mood For Love)

    I really liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memories of a Geisha is a big favourite of mine - and I think that Zhang Ziyi is a gorgeous actress.

    I haven't watched that many Asian films but growing up I used to watch lots of anime. My all time favourite was Saint Seiya (as quirky as it sounds hehe) and I'm a real fan of Hayao Miyazaki, he does such beautiful animated films!

    Have a wonderful day!

  18. I haven't watched any of these but will definitely try some of the m. Always nice to watch something not a hollywood made movie!


  19. I bet my mom has seen all of these, but I've only seen #6! Of course I've seen Crouching Tiger, Geisha, and the Joy Luck Club too. :)

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

  20. What a great list and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE that you included Chungking Express. I adore that movie. Faye Wong is SO adorbs in that movie.

    I need to try Eat Drink Man Woman.

    Love in a Puff looks SO cute.

    Have you ever seen The Killer?

  21. I have only seen one out of this list. Thank you Kim and Rowena for sharing these. I especially love Japanese series and have watched since high school before Korean series became a phenomenon.

  22. Great lists! I love "Hero"; it's definitely at the top of my favorite movies of all time list!

    My other favorite Asian movies are: Let the Bullets Fly, Kunfu Hustle, Shoalin Soccer, The Hidden Blade, Fearless, The Warlords, and The Warrior's Way.

  23. I love "Crouching Tiger hidden Dragon" I watched so many times of these awesome movie. I will have to checking out another one on your list. oxox.

  24. Great great post Rowena...I know nothing about Asian movies so this is a really great list for me to start at, you have the best taste when it comes to these things!

  25. I totally appreciate this post! I love that you shared Asian films! =)


  26. I haven't known these films before, thanks for sharing :) From Asian film I know few horrors and they're really scary :)

  27. Awesome list! I have not seen any of them. I feel so lame! I have read Memoirs, as well as, Joy Luck Club though, both are amazing!

  28. Cool - might try watching some of these! I love Memoirs of a Geisha - but the book is a million times better :) xx
    Mili Mola

  29. goegous asian films
    Great selection darling!
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  30. thats really nice but somehow i have not seen any of these!

  31. Thanks for the recommendations! I've seen several of these, and theyre all very good. I had forgotten about eat drink man woman until now, that was so good. It was definitely food porn at its finest. Im going to check out the other ones now!

  32. Don't know all these files, only the memory of a Geisha,...Hope to find the others.
    The review is Very interesting,

    Ciao Kim

  33. I have added them to my list! ;)

    New Outfit Post: A PoP of Red

  34. Sadly I haven't watched all of them, but I've seen a few of the above and they are good movies. The Joy Luck Club, however, is my favorite. It's classic. The book was equally good.
    Beauty Fashion Skin Care Blog -Girlie Blog Seattle | Casual Chic Style

  35. I used to watch Korean drama, has a different and interesting story, I have also seen the first movie on this list, very good!

  36. Fabulous post! Looks like a great list of films! The Joy Luck Club is one of my all-time faves, and I'm looking forward to watching some of the films you've featured! :) T.

  37. Thanks so much again for having me Kim! I had fun putting this together! And thanks to everyone for the enthusiastic response! I think watching films from other countries is a really great way to learn something about other cultures.

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  38. Another wonderful post - thanks for sharing these! I don't know a lot about Asian cinema but now I know for sure that I have a lot of catching up to do in learning about it :)

  39. Great recommendations there Rowena! I love many of them especially In the Mood for love and Memoirs of Geisha. Hey Kim, love this whole Chinese culture series of posts u are having at your blog right now! Happy New Year to you and wishing u good health and prosperity in this Horse year! Thank you for your kind comment on my outfit!

    Fang Ting

  40. Dear Rowena, I have watched only the first of all the movies you have mentioned. My husband and me like watching international movies, so thank you for suggesting this list. Have you watched Life of Pi, Rowena or Kim? Much much Love,
    Coco et La vie en rose
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  41. Haven't seen any of these, definitely keeping them in mind!


  42. I've seen a few of these, Kim! Great picks!!

  43. foreign movies are cool and good for a change... loved the top 10

    btw do check out my new post
    stay in touch'

  44. I was just running out of movies to watch, this post came right in handy! :)
    I will definitely try out few of the movies you suggested! Thank you!

  45. all really good picks kim! hero is one of my all time faves - such incredibly beautiful scenes!

    steph /

  46. Hi Kim, I'm a huge fan of Chow Yun Fat so I watched all his movies! I'm hoping to watch the other ones on your list too.

    xo Jo

  47. I enjoy watching Asian films. Crouching Tiger is one of my favourites along with Memoirs of a Geisha. I've seen Hero too. I will check out those other films featured here.

  48. i saw a few of these! great picks rowena! hero was really amazing. and i love the actors from heavenly forest. and of course the man from nowhere was neat too. i can't believe how much that little girl grew up! thanks for sharing!

  49. LOVED eat drink man woman! thanks for the list! will bookmark this one :)

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  50. i love Giesha, it is a nice movie.
    Following you on GFC, hope you will follow me back.

  51. I put quite a few of these on my streaming cues!

  52. Ooohhhh I haven't watched any of these yet. The trailers look soo good. Hihi. I want to recommend two more movies for you: Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow) and Reign of Assassins (Michelle Yeow). I hope you'll enjoy watching them like I did.

  53. Nice list... I have made this list of my favorite once.

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