My Top 50 Oriental Films

What's this all about I hear you ask?

In a nutshell, I love watching films. I especially love films from the far east.

Most people only hear of a few oriental films each year, typically the big releases such as Crouching Tiger, House of Flying Daggers, Lust/Caution, et cetera. I thought I'd share my favourite films with you in the hope of introducing you to some great cinematic moments that may not always have received the publicity they deserve. It can also act as a talking point for the next time I see some of you in the pub - maybe there's a hidden gem or two that I've left out and should watch myself?

Making the list was difficult. There were hundreds of films I've seen so it took a bit of work to get it down to just fifty. Also, to qualify, the film had to be produced in the far east and not America or elsewhere, hence the exclusion of great films such as Enter the Dragon.

I hope you enjoy reading the list, I enjoyed putting it together!

PB

 

Lady VengeanceTetsuo
50 The Returner
  Transformers meets John Woo, mixed with typical Japanese cool.
Dir: Takashi Yamazaki, 2002. Japan. View details »
49 Fist of the North Star
  Set in a Mad Max-esque apocalyptic future, this was one of the first anime's I ever saw.
Dir: Toyoo Ashida, 1986. Japan. View details »

48 Lady Vengeance
  The third, although arguably weakest, installment of Chan-wook Park's revenge trilogy.
Dir: Chan-wook Park, 2005. South Korea. View details »
47 Tom Yum Goong
  Tony Jaa's bone-shattering follow-up to Ong Bak. If there's a better single-shot fight scene ever made then it's not out yet. Do not steal this man's elephants.
Dir: Prachya Pinkaew, 2005. Thailand. View details »

46 Tetsuo: The Iron Man
  If David Cronenberg was Japanese, he'd make films like this.
Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989. Japan. View details »
GodzillaCasshern
45 Mr Vampire
  Cos Chinese vampires are so much better!
Dir: Ricky Lau, 1985. China. View details »
44 Godzilla: King of Monsters
  Embrace the crap plastic tanks and cardboard buildings. Long live the king!
Dir: Ishirô Honda, 1954. Japan. View details »
43 Ran
  Akira Kurosawa's epic take on Shakespeare's King Lear.
Dir: Akira Kurosawa, 1985. Japan. View details »
42 Save the Green Planet
  Are you an alien?
Dir: Joon-Hwan Jang, 2003. South Korea. View details »
41 Casshern
  Ok, so the storyline wasn't actually particularly great, but the visuals and action scenes... oh my... this is what happens when live action anime's are treated with the respect they deserve.
Dir: Kazuaki Kiriya, 2004. Japan. View details »

Castle in the SkyAudition
40 New Police Story
  Whoever thinks Jackie Chan is past it needs to watch this. Gone is his usual comedy and in comes a darker, harder edge Jackie, and this film is all the better for it.
Dir: Benny Chan, 2004. China. View details »

39 Castle in the Sky
  A typically charming and beautiful film by Miyazaki, I loved it!
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki, 1986. Japan. View details »
38 Master of the Flying Guillotine
  What do you do when you can't think of a storyline? Have a 90 minute kung fu tournament, that's what!
Dir: Yu Wang, 1975. China. View details »

37 Audition
  Deeper Deeper!
Dir: Takashi Miike, 1999. Japan. View details »
36 The Magnificent Butcher
  Sammo reprazentin' for fat blokes the world over.
Dir: Woo-ping Yuen, 1979. China. View details »

AkiraKung Fu Hustle
35 Bullet in the Head
  Johnny Woo's crime epic. Slo-mo's and cool baddies galore!
Dir: John Woo, 1990. China. View details »

34 Ringu
  You will die in one week.
Dir: Hideo Nakata, 1998. Japan. View details »
33 Akira
  Based on Katsuhiro Ôtomo's manga, this is probably the most famous anime of them all.
Dir: Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988. Japan. View details »

32 Kung Fu Hustle
  A typical blend of comedy, kung fu, homage and pastiche from Stephen Chow.
Dir: Stephen Chow, 2004. China. View details »
31 Legend of a Fighter
  Based on the character that inspired Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, this still remains one of Woo-ping Yuen's finest outings.
Dir: Woo-ping Yuen, 1982. China. View details »

Ichi the KillerGhost in the Shell
30 Ichi the Killer
  In my opinion, one of the sickest but similarly coolest films ever made. It's worth watching the anime short-film prequel to understand the main character better.
Dir: Takashi Miike, 2001. Japan. View details »

29 Yojimbo
  The original tale of the crafty ronin who came to town and played both gangs. This film would later inspire Clint Eastwood's A Fistful of Dollars and Bruce Willis's Last Man Standing.
Dir: Akira Kurosawa, 1961. Japan. View details »

28 Hero
  Taking a similar format to Kurosawa's Rashomon, this puts Donnie Yen and Jet Li together for only the second time.
Dir: Yimou Zhang, 2002. China. View details »

27 Police Story
  Jackie at his brilliant best. This is a great film - the incredible bus chase scene stands out in particular.
Dir: Jackie Chan, 1985. China. View details »
26 Ghost in the Shell
  The anime based on Masume Shirow's manga, Ghost is a visual feast and has one of the best soundtracks around.
Dir: Mamoru Oshii, 1995. Japan. View details »

Ong BakShogun Assassin
25 Ong-Bak
  No wires, no stunt-doubles, no CGI. The film that breathed life into the martial arts genre and launched Tony Jaa on to the big stage.
Dir: Prachya Pinkaew, 2003. Thailand. View details »

24 Fearless
  The tale of Huo Yuanjia, teacher to Chen Zhen. This is Jet Li's best film in a long, long, time.
Dir: Ronny Yu, 2006. China. View details »

23 Shogun Assassin
  The film adaptation of a Lone Wolf and Cub manga and, like it or not, made all the more famous by Kill Bill.
Dir: Robert Houston, 1980. Japan. View details »

22 The Killer
  Doves - check. Handguns - check. Massive body count - you're god damn right!
Dir: John Woo, 1989. China. View details »
21 Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind
  I ♥ Sammo Hung. Fact.
Dir: Sammo Hung, 1980. China. View details »

Battle RoyaleFist of Fury
20 Battle Royale
  The film America would never make. Some people found it to be too much style over substance. Personally, I found it quite beautiful.
Dir: Kinji Fukasaku, 2000. Japan. View details »

19 Legend of Drunken Master
  Jackie Chan's slant on China's most famous martial arts hero, Wong Fei-hung, is also his best film.
Dir: Chia-Liang Liu, 1994. China. View details »

18 Infernal Affairs
  Hong Kong's answer to The Godfather. The film starred Andy Lau and Tony Leung, spawned two sequels and was remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed.
Dir: Wai-keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak, 2002. China. View details »

17 Fist of Fury
  No Dogs and Chinese Allowed! Bruce Lee stars as Chen Zhen, one of China's most famous martial artists. The fact this film has been made and remade time and time again is testament to it's greatness.
Dir: Wei Lo, 1972. China. View details »

16 Rashômon
  Kurosawa's non-linear narrative of a samurai and his wife was not only groundbreaking for its time, it's a formula still being used to great effect today.
Dir: Akira Kurosawa, 1950. Japan. View details »

OldboyHard Boiled
15 Oldboy
  Part Two of Park's revenge trilogy. Oldboy has two scenes I'll never forget: the octopus and, of course, the clawhammer!
Dir: Chan-wook Park, 2003. South Korea. View details »

14 Fist of Legend
  Jet Li's updated version of the famous tale of Chen Zhen is possibly even better than Bruce's outing. Yes, it's THAT good. Don't believe me? Fine, see for yourself.
Dir: Gordon Chan, 1994. China. View details »

13 Princess Mononoke
  I never got the whole craze over Spirited Away. This wonderful film written by Miyazaki and adapted by Neil Gaiman was way better!
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki, 1997. Japan. View details »

12 Hard Boiled
  Tequila: makes people happy. That is, unless you're a bad guy! The best HK film ever? Almost...
Dir: John Woo, 1992. China. View details »
11 Ju-On
  I watched this in a room full of grown men with the lights on and still shitted a brick. Scary indeed!
Dir: Takashi Shimizu, 2000. Japan. View details »

Shaolin SoccerThe Happiness of the Katakuris
10 Ninja Scroll
  A ninja for hire is forced to battle eight different demons, each with a uniquely different power. This is my favourite anime of all time.
Dir: Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Kevin Seymour, 1993. Japan. View details »

9 Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
  The first installment, and in my opinion the best chapter, of Park's groundbreaking revenge trilogy. Although Oldboy is the more popular choice, I preferred this film for it's rawness and purity.
Dir: Chan-wook Park, 2002. South Korea. View details »

8 Way of the Dragon
  Many people would put Enter the Dragon or Fist of Fury as Bruce's defining film, but I always loved Way of the Dragon the most. The fight at the end with Chuck Norris is one of the all time great match-ups. Bruce at his charismatic best!
Dir: Bruce Lee, 1972. China. View details »

7 Shaolin Soccer
  When my friend Gus first told me the premise of this film I thought it would be terrible. So imagine my surprise when I finally sat down to watch this Hong Kong film that would go on to become a massive hit. Stephen Chow leads his rag-tag team through a football tournament and eventually enter into a showdown with Team Evil. The transformation of Shaolin's goalie, played by Kwok-Kwan Chan, is quite a sight to behold!
Dir: Stephen Chow, 2001. China. View details »

6 The Happiness of the Katakuris
  Love, Music, Horror, Volcanos. Cinema was never meant to be like this! Is it wrong to stand up and clap after being blown away by a great film? Cos I did here, so call me sad A masterpiece by Miike.
Dir: Takashi Miike, 2001. Japan. View details »

A Chinese Ghost Story
5 A Chinese Ghost Story
  The tale of a humble tax collector who falls in love with a ghost and calls on the help of a Taoist monk to help him free her from an evil tree spirit. While most kids in my class spent their childhood watching stuff like Star Wars, I was watching great kung fu stories like this.
Dir: Siu-Tung Ching, 1987. China. View details »

Iron Monkey
4 Iron Monkey
  One of the finest pure martial arts films ever, telling the story of a young Wong Fei Hung and his father (played by Donnie Yen), who join forces with the outlaw Iron Monkey to battle a corrupt governor. The awesome final scene atop the blazing wooden poles is one of the most iconic movies fights of all time.
Dir: Woo-Ping Yuen, 1993. China. View details »

Zatoichi
3 Zatôichi
  Beat Takeshi directs and stars in this brilliant installment of Japan's most famous fictional samurai. Zatoichi is a 19th century blind nomad who makes his living as a gambler and masseur. However, behind this humble facade, he is a master swordsman gifted with a lightning-fast draw and breathtaking precision. So, just how good is this film? Well, even my dad liked it, that's how good it is!
Dir: Takeshi Kitano, 2003. Japan. View details »

Once Upon a Time in China
2 Once Upon a Time in China
  In my eyes, Jet Li's portrayal of Wong Fei-hung is the defining one. Set in the late 19th century, martial arts hero Wong Fei-hung stands up for the Chinese people against the plundering forces from America, Great Britain and France. This martial arts epic spawned several sequels, although none of them came close to matching the original. A masterpiece by Tsui Hark.
Dir: Tsui Hark, 1991. China. View details »

Seven Samurai
1 Seven Samurai
  Was there really any other choice?
Dir: Akira Kurosawa, 1954. Japan. View details »


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