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10 Must-See Asian films

Updated on January 15, 2015

Roy Lee is one of the many Hollywood producers that are always looking for materials in Asia. Some of the movies he has remade into a Hollywood film are Shutter and The Eye. The mere fact that someone like Roy Lee sees the gem in Asia means we should at least give some of its movies a try.

Here are some of the best movies from Asia in 2012.

10. 009 RE: Cyborg

Country: Japan

Director: Kenji Kamiyama

Short Synopsis:

A modern update on the classic anime/manga franchise, 009 RE: Cyborg follows a group of humans who were kidnapped by an evil organization and experimented upon, who banded together and used their cybernetic "upgrades" in order to escape from their captors and bring the evil organization down for good.

Why it has to be watched:

The original anime was already considered as one of the best anime to come out of Japan, and this is a chance to see a modern take, with the biggest change being the fact that the animation is now sleeker and more polished.

9. The Great Magician

Country: China

Director: Derek Yee

Short Synopsis:

The Great Magician mix and matches period drama and fantasy in order to tell the story of a love triangle between a magician, his fiancée, and a local warlord who's aiding the Japanese into reuniting warlord era China under one banner.

Why it has to be watched:

Tony Leung Chiu Wai knows how to accept the right kind of projects, so another movie with him in the lead role should be safe enough to recommend. Additionally, it is kind of intriguing how the end product will look when it's being described as the Chinese version of The Prestige.

8. Tai Chi Zero

Country: China

Director: Stephen Fung

Short Synopsis:

Tai Chi 0 is based on the life of Tai Chi master Yang Luchan, who founded the most popular form of tai chi in the world today. In the movie, the Young Yang travels to Chen Village in order to learn the form of Tai Chi he will eventually practice. The villagers are not allowed to teach outsiders, but Yang becomes their only hope for survival when a man arrives to take over their village and turn it into a railroad.

Why it has to be watched:

You can't expect the movie to be a 100% accurate biopic, but that's a good thing as it means the fight scenes can sacrifice accuracy at the alter of action-packed goodness. Additionally, Yang Luchan has had an eventful life so this is going to be a trilogy, with Jet Li himself set to appear in the 2nd film.

7. A Simple Life

Country: Hong Kong

Director: Ann Hui

Short Synopsis:

A simple life is a drama that stars one of Hong Kong's four "sky kings," Andy Lau, as a young man who wants to show his aging family servant that she is really an important part of the family.

Why it has to be watched:

At a time when the Hong Kong film industry is trying to break into Hollywood by throwing as much money, special effects, and pretty faces as they can afford at their movies, it's nice to see that they can still churn out low key drama that relies more on a touching tale and an aging actor's ability to convey emotions than pageantry.

6. The Thieves

Country: South Korea

Director: Choi Doong-hoon

Short Synopsis:

After a long hiatus due to a botched job, a group of thieves reunites and decides to steal an extremely rare and expensive diamond.

Why it has to be watched:

According to the director, this movie is an attempt to take Korean movies and make them go global, which essentially means that it's designed to be accessible and enjoyable regardless of culture. It would be interesting to see what the end result is like.

5. Love in the Buff:

Country: Hong kong

Director: Edmond Pang

Short synopsis:

Love in the Buff is the sequel to the hit romantic comedy Love in a Puff. The original film deals with two smokers finding love in each other's company after post-cigarette ban Hong Kong, and Love in the Buff picks up a short while after the first film, with the two ex-lovers meeting again.

Why it has to be watched:

Because it's from Edmond Pang. He writes witty dialogues and has a talent for visual composition, and his films are enjoyable in terms of content and visual appeal.

4. The Raid: Redemption

Country: Indonesia

Director: Gareth Evans

Short Synopsis:

The Raid: Redemption follows a group of special ops policemen raiding a crime lord in his own high-rise apartment building, only to be trapped in one of the floors with no hopes of backup or reinforcement. What's worse, the crimelord has just announced through the PA that anyone who manages to kill any of the policemen will be rewarded.

Why it has to be watched:

The Raid: Redemption is easily one of the best martial arts/action films to come out in the past five years, regardless of country. Sony has apparently secured the rights for an English remake, but we're betting they'll screw it up by casting Sam Worthington and Ashton Kutcher in the lead roles.

3. Chinese Zodiac

Country: China

Director: Jackie Chan

Short Synopsis:

Jackie Chan himself describes it as an "Indiana Jones-style action adventure," which is being modest, as it's probably better. For one thing, it has Jackie Chan doing what he does best, using kung fu, theatrics, and unbelievable amounts of death-defying stuntwork to beat up bad guys. What's even better, Jackie Chan is not planning to survive a nuclear blast by hiding inside a refrigerator.

Why it has to be watched:

A non-Hollywood film (where he is usually forced to play to Chinese stereotypes) from Jackie Chan is always a joy to watch. Additionally, the man himself admitted that this will be the last time he'll do stunt work, as his body can no longer sustain the stress in his old age. So enjoy it while it lasts.

2. Himizu

Country: Japan

Director: Sion Sono

Short Synopsis:

Based on the same-titled manga, Himizu is a dark and depressing tale that follows a young boy, living on his own after being abandoned by his parents, as he is consumed by profound hatred and rage for everything in the world.

Why it has to be watched:

Indie director Sion Sono has proven himself to be a master of dark, disturbing tales that affect viewers on a primal level. Considering that the source material is already edgy, it is interesting to see how Sion Sono's adaptation will turn out.

1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Country: Japan

Director: Takashi Miike

Short Synopsis:

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is based on the same-titled Nintendo DS visual novel game, which follows a young upstart lawyer as he tackles a variety of quirky cases - from love-triangle murder cases to ghost possession-related crimes.

Why it has to be watched:

Takashi Miike is famous for directing disturbing, gory, or drama-heavy films. Phoenix Wright is a light-hearted comedy game with spiky-haired characters that over-react on a regular basis. It should be interesting to see what the film will be like once the dust settles.



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    • profile image

      Miran Shuleta 2 years ago

      I'm surprised Oldboy is not here, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, if you've not seen them I would HIGHLY recommend.

      Other suggestions Akira, Battle Royale, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke 3 idiots.

      Great Hub!

    • xypherfarrell profile image

      Fairlane Raymundo 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Michael Poon it is not in my top 10 =)

    • Michael Poon profile image

      Michael 4 years ago from Australia

      wheres ip man!?