America isn’t the only country that makes great films. Asia has produced films that have gained great popularity not only in Asia, but around the world as well. China, Korea and Japan have spawned actors and directors that have developed loyal audiences over the years and created movies that fans have watched over and over. From martial arts to horror movies, these classic films are loved by audiences everywhere. Here are ten Asian films that are unforgettable.
Martial arts movies are associated with several outstanding fighting men, including Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Though they gained popularity in the United States once they were widely distributed in mainstream movie houses, they got their start in Asia, became Asian cult classics, and are some of the most widely watched movies in the world.
The Way of the Dragon – this movie was made in 1972 and in the United States was released as “Return of the Dragon.” It was originally released in Hong Kong and was entitled “Meng long GuoJiang”. The movie is filmed in Italy and stars Lee as Tang Lung who goes to Rome to help his brothers run their restaurant. When the syndicate tries to force them to sell their property, they find out that they pressured the wrong family. When the syndicate finds they can’t defeat him, they hire the American martial artist Colt, played by Chuck Norris who faces Lee in their final showdown in the historic Coliseum.
Enter the Dragon – This is one of Lee’s most popular movies in the west. Released in Hong Kong and the United States, the movie centers around a martial arts tournament held on an island and run by a man Lee is hired to investigate for suspicion of running an opium trade. Lee is told that the man abducted his sister and she committed suicide rather than submit to her abductor.
The Chinese Connection – Also known as Fists of Fury, this Hong Kong film stars Bruce Lee plating Chen Zhen, who arrives in Chine and learns that his beloved teacher is dead. While investigating his teacher’s murder, he uses his martial arts skills to fight back against the racial harassment he suffers at the hands of the resident Japanese population.
The Fearless Hyena – This is a Jackie Chan movie released in 1979 in Hong Kong. An early film it was originally entitled ‘Meng long GuoJiang”. As is Chan’s style, the movie is a comedic martial arts film that has Jackie instructed by his grandfather not to reveal his Kung Fu skills to protect their safety. But Jackie doesn’t listen and word spreads about his talent. An old enemy of his grandfather locates them due to his skill and beats up his grandfather. Jackie then increases his skills to get revenge.
Shaolin Martial Arts – This movie originated in Hong Kong and is a favored classic due its concentration of the various different styles of martial arts that are learned in order to defeat the style of the enemy. It was directed by Cheng Cheh, who directed numerous martial arts films and set the style of martial arts films made in the next few years.
Godzilla – hands down Godzilla began the trend of monsters tormenting humans. This classic Japanese film is loved by all and preys on the superstitions in all of us. When boats begin disappearing in the ocean under conditions that only can be described as a surface that is boiling, villagers fear that Godzilla, a legend, has risen in the aftermath of an H-bomb test.
100 Monsters – This Japanese film involves a demon spinner hired to tell his stories at the grand opening of a brothel. Unbeknownst to the owners, he is really there to curse the brothel for opening in an old shrines. As he spins his tales, the monsters come alive and begin to kill the celebration’s attendees.
Kikujiro – In this Japanese film, Kikujiro travels with Masao to see the mother he has never met. The comedic film chronicles their entertaining adventures and the people they meet along the way.
The King and the Clown – with a new twist on an old theme, this South Korean film features two clowns who are arrested for performing a satiric play that ridicules the current king. Angered, the king rings the clowns before him and tells them they can live if they can make him laugh.
Samaritan Girl – this Korean classic tells the story of two girls, one a prostitute and the other her best friend and “manager”. The manager’s job is to get dates, handle the money and look out for the police. One day the prostitute falls in love with a customer, but suppresses her feelings in deference to her best friend, but when her friend fails in her lookout job, the prostitute jumps out of a window to avoid arrest and nearly dies. On her deathbed, she wishes to again see the man she fell in love with. Though her friend complies, it is only after she agrees to sleep with the man herself. By the time they get to the hospital her friend is dead and the “manager” sleeps with every man her friend did to try to understand her. When her father finds out, he seeks revenge.