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10 Must Watch Movies from Asia

I spent most of my childhood watching Hollywood movies. Later, as I grew more mature, I started to watch movies for different reasons. If entertainment was the goal while young, later in my life I was looking at movies as a means to experience and learn something new; I was looking for growth.

As my favorite professor would say:

“Artists are the people who stand on the frontier of the transformation of the unknown into knowledge”.

Jordan Peterson

Art is an attempt to articulate the unknown. So in this list, I will put the films that touched me the most, leaving me with a lot of reflection on life in relation to what I’ve just seen, and that, in my opinion, are by this definition real pieces of art.

1. Burning (2018)

Burning (2018) Directed by Lee Chang-dong

Burning is one of the best movies I’ve seen in decades. It is very hard to classify Burning as a genre and even harder to understand it fully. But like real art, with multiple viewing sessions, everything will make more sense without you really being able to put words into it.

There is something truly magical about this movie. What I’ll just say about it is that it’s kind of a thriller about luck, fate, inequalities, and envy; the rest you’ll have to experience for yourself.

2. Parasite (2019)

Parasite (2019) Directed by Bong Joon Ho

Parasite is probably the most acclaimed Asian movie in recent history. Both winner of the Palme d’Or and Best Movie at the Oscars, Parasite is a vaudeville musically orchestrated from A to Z.

This movie is fun and dramatic at the same time; the acting, the tempo, and the cinematography are simply perfect. I think there are absolutely no flaws in this movie, and it can be appreciated everywhere in the world since it touches on universal themes.

3. Minari (2020)

Minari (2020) Directed by Lee Isaac Chung

Minari is actually an American movie, but since this film is mainly spoken in Korean and talks about the immigration of Asians into western societies, it had to make the list.

This movie is a beautiful and philosophical anthem to men’s values and the importance of family closeness in Asian culture for resilience, sometimes much more primordial than financial success.

4. A Sun (2019)

A Sun (2019) Directed by Mong-Hong Chung

A Sun is a Taiwanese movie I stumbled upon on Netflix and was mesmerized by it. This movie talks about what it means to be a son and what it means to be a father in Asian culture.

The acting in this movie is simply amazing. Witnessing the drama of another family and its characters always has a cathartic effect on me. Not many movies have me involved in a character like this one for A-Ho.

5. In the mood for love (2000)

In the mood for love (2000) Directed by Wong Kar-wai

In the mood for love is probably one of the most beautiful movies shot on film, thanks to the photography of Christopher Doyle. You couldn’t be more wrong to think of this film as a romantic comedy.

This movie is a drama, and even people like Alejandro González Iñárritu often leave the screening speechless and deeply moved, so be prepared for the longing melancholia as this movie goes deep into the world of adultery and love.

6. 2046 (2004)

2046 (2004) Directed by Wong Kar-wai

2046 is considered the sequel to In the mood for love, but in a very different genre. The main character has become some sort of nihilistic playboy, writing a sci-fi novel while living a hedonistic lifestyle filled with depravities.

There are in this movie some of the most realistic psychological interactions between lovers I’ve seen in cinema. This movie sociologically reminds me of the work of Abdellatif Kechiche somehow—a very accurate and deep dive into human psychology.

7. Memories of murder (2003)

Memories of murder (2003) Directed by Bong Joon Ho

Memories of Murder is a movie based on the real events of a Korean serial killer. This thriller is absolutely brilliant in its directing and acting.

I guarantee you’ll be entirely immersed in the investigation, and the end will leave you with a terrible taste in your mouth, but for justified reasons.

8. Drive My Car (2021)

Drive My Car (2021) Directed by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi

Drive My Car is the latest great Asian movie I’ve seen. I was very surprised by the complexity of this movie and the themes treated. I was expecting a cheerful love story between a guy and his driver, but not at all.

This movie is quite long and treats a very difficult subject with brilliance: how to move on with your life after a tragedy. There is so much depth and metaphor in this movie that you’ll probably need to watch an explanation afterward.

9. Mother (2009)

Mother (2009) Directed by Bong Joon Ho

Mother is what Sun is but for mothers plus the famous goofiness of Bong Joon Ho’s characters. Not only is this movie fun, it keeps you wondering about the outcome. It’s also a good glimpse into Asian culture.

The love of a mother for her son is probably the strongest bond that exists on earth, especially in Asia, and you’ll be able to witness plenty of it in this movie.

10. Decision to leave (2022)

Decision to leave (2022) Directed by Park Chan-Wook

Decision to Leave is a hard movie to classify; it’s something along the lines of a police thriller mixed with a romantic story. What really makes this movie shine is its story.

The direction is also quite interesting; this is the kind of movie that is hard to grasp on the first viewing and that, with time, will surely reveal more interesting details to viewers.

11. Bonus Chungking Express (1994)

Chungking Express (1994) Directed by Wong Kar-wai

Chungking Express is a movie I’ve recently watched, and man, I was absolutely amazed by it. Especially with the second part between Tony Leung and Faye Wong.

In most movies, characters are straightforward and quite boring. In this movie, the characters are goofy, original, and extremely charismatic.

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Written by dudeoi

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