The Essential List to Some of the Most Iconic Chinese Films to Watch

Jan 6, 2020 | Asia, China, Hong Kong, POP

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Whether you are studying its language, getting to know its culture, or just want to dive into Chinese cinema, these are some of the must-see films to check out.

It’s almost Chinese New Year, but you don’t need this occasion to watch Chinese films. Unfortunately, movies made in China are not getting international box office sales that it deserves.

Only a real film buff knows that China is one of the best sources for films. No matter what genre you like, you are bound to find something that will fit your preference. Chinese filmmakers have a knack for experimenting with different techniques as they take storytelling to new heights. If you want to get started on Chinese films, keep on reading.

House of Flying Daggers

House of Flying Daggers is one of the most popular Chinese films to date. The movie is packed with big names in the entertainment industry including top actress Zhang Ziyi.

The movie is set in the 8th century, where tons of rebel groups take power amidst the country’s bad leadership of the government. The movie is focused on a faction that uses flying daggers to kill people. When the government sends officers to spy on Mei, a dancer who is connected to the House of Flying Daggers faction, it turns into a thrilling adventure that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Farewell My Concubine

Farewell My Concubine is a film that perfectly shows the rich culture of the country. This film spans over 50 years of history about the life behind the scenes at the famous Peking Opera. This movie covered the 1920s up to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

The movie focuses on two men sold to the opera who both rise to stardom thanks to their classic performance for the opera piece Farewell My Concubine.

Dying to Survive

A comedic take on a serious problem, Dying to Survive focuses on the unbelievably high cost of pharmaceutical in the country.

The movie is loosely based on the life of Lu Yong, a textile manufacturer who buys anti-cancer drugs in India to help himself and countless other Chinese suffering from chronic myeloid leukemia.

The movie highlights how people face cancer, and community efforts to solve the social problem without the involvement of the government. This is the reason why the film became controversial. After the film was released, the Chinese government promised to make an effort to lower the cost of drugs in the country.

The Road Home

To get a glimpse of how important Chinese traditions are, watch The Road Home. This film perfectly shows the ties that hold a family together. Directed by Zhang Yimou, this film is set in a remote village in China where a widow waits for her son to arrive to help with the funeral of his father.

One of the most important traditions to honor departed ones is to ensure that their spirit find their way home after death. Therefore, Lou Yusheng, the son, has to carry his father’s body through the place where he died to their home so his spirit finds the right way. The film is a brilliant mix of black and white and color to show the present and past.

Big Fish & Begonia

If you love Japan’s Studio Ghibli films, you would adore Big Fish & Begonia. This well-done fantasy cartoon is set in a parallel world underneath the ocean where mystical creatures control the balance of the earth. Chun, one of the Others, is sent to earth in the form of a dolphin and falls in love with a boy who rescues her. 

Internal Affairs

Originally made in Hong Kong, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. The film became the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Internal Affairs is one of the most successful crime thrillers of this century. It focuses on a triad member who infiltrates the police and an undercover cop. Multiple sequals were followed after the success of this iconic blockbuster.