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6 Amazing Foreign Movies to Brush Up Your Language Skills

Updated on May 27, 2017

Foreign movies often slip under the radar of the global audience, and therefore go unnoticed by potential fans. However, sometimes a blockbuster from Europe or Asia hits the big screen, and blows people away. This list consists of ten of my favourite foreign movies - some of which are well-known globally, and some that are less known. All are enjoyable, and all are available with English subtitles. They're also across a range of different genres, so there will hopefully be one you would enjoy.

Got any more recommendations, or a movie from a language not on the list? Comment below.

Journey to the West (2014) (Cantonese)

This Stephen Chow movie was a horror, action, adventure and comedy all in one - and I loved every moment of it. It was scary, exciting, horrific and funny, somehow, all at once. It's a film for adults, as there are some quite shocking scenes.

When a little girl's father is violently killed and eaten in the village river, a demon hunter arrives to tackle the beast. This movie is about monsters, demon hunters and adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed Journey to the West for how exciting it was, it's quirky funny scenes, the shock factor and the really cool fighting scenes. I recommend it for people who enjoy movies such as Stargate, Paprika and the Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Journey to the West movie poster
Journey to the West movie poster | Source
Let the Right One In
Let the Right One In | Source

Let the Right One In (2008) (Swedish)

Let the Right One In is a Swedish horror movie with a twist of romance, about the relationship between a young, timid boy and a vampire girl. This movie was extremely strange, yet enthralling, and enjoyable for those who love tales that are a little weird, quirky and shocking.

If you like the Return of the Living Dead, the Orphanage or the Descent, you may enjoy this movie. It's a creepy, yet oddly sweet twist on vampires, using the concept of (very) young love mingled with horror.

Aftershock | Source

Aftershock (2010) (Mandarin)

This Chinese drama, directed by Feng Xiaogang, is based on a true story, and portrays the events after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.

The movie is heartbreaking; it depicts the violent and horrendous event at the beginning of the movie, and takes you through a young girl's tragic tale after she's left alone in the wreckage. She and her twin brother are stuck under A great movie if you're in the mood for an emotional story.

This movie made $100 million US dollars in the Chinese box office. I recommend this to people who enjoy movies such as Titanic.

Sky of Love
Sky of Love | Source

Sky of Love (2007) (Japanese)

This is truly a sob story, one that left me grieving for several days afterwards. Sky of Love is a romantic drama that has been an anime, a TV show in several languages in Asia, and a movie in Japan. it portrays the story of a high school girl who finds her lost phone with nothing but an unknown number on it. The number, who turns out to be a boy from her school, talks to her over the summer, and they grow close. They get into a relationship, a rollercoaster that depicts heartbreak, bullying and worse.

This is a movie I've watched many times, and it's made me cry every time. A great film to watch with your friends - and a box of tissues.

Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth | Source

Pan's Labyrinth (2006) (Spanish)

Pan's Labyrinth is a dark fantasy movie for adults about a little girl who's mother marries a Nazi-supporting general. Her life is utterly miserable. One night she follows what appears to be a dragonfly to an underground maze, where she meets a fawn. He tells her that she's the princess of the Underworld, and to reunite with her real parents in the Labyrinth, she must complete three tasks.

Although this may seem like a tale typical of a children's fantasy (and many parents even took their children to see it, mistaking it to be a family film), there are many dark and violent themes in the movie, and some that are just plain scary. This film is fantastic if you love fantasy, love dark themes and love a story that's exciting. It is one of my favourite foreign movies to date.

Battle Royale (2000) (Japanese)

The Japanese are famous for great movies, especially in the horror genre. Battle Royale is like the original Hunger Games - a teacher pits students against each other on an island to fight to the death. Tatsuya Fujiwara (from Death Note) portrays the main character in this movie.

It's exciting, shocking and creepy, and great if you love horror films with lots of action. This movie remains one of the ten highest grossing films in Japan, and was released in 22 countries worldwide.

Battle Royale
Battle Royale | Source
Oldboy | Source

Oldboy (2003) (Korean)

Oldboy is a mystery thriller film that, like many Asian horror films such as The Ring and The Grudge, has been remade as an American version.

Dae-su is locked in a room for fifteen years, and still doesn't know his captive's motives when he is finally released. His quest for vengeance - and the truth - becomes evermore complicated when he falls in love with a pretty chef.

The film has received mostly positive feedback and won an award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. A thriller to watch if you're in the mood for som thrilling action and mysterious storyline.

Foreign movies are great if you're practising a foreign language, and even if you're not interested in the language itself, it's soon easy to forget that you're reading subtitles. Foreign movies should be tried every once in a while, as you might discover a fantastic story within another culture, and fall in love with it.

Foreign movies are actually the cause for many people to become interested in a country and a language. If you're learning a language, check out movies, TV shows and cartoons from that country to practise your skills, and discover a story you wouldn't otherwise have found.


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    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      I think there are other great foreign movies I have watched so far in my life though Oldboy and Battle Royale are great movies, no doubt about that! Thank you :)