Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Asian Language Movies Set in East Asia


Thursday again. I had to dig into the vault on these. I honestly can't remember the last time I watched an Asian film of any kind. Sad but true. I have pretty much loved every experience I've had with Asian cinema over the years, though.

This week on Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks it's all about East Asian films.

I decided to pick films from the three big film producing East Asian countries. I have one from Japan...a classic. One from Korea...a modern revenge masterpiece. And a trio of Wuxia films from China...all just colorful beauties.

Here are this week's picks:


Rashomon
Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1950
(From Japan in Japanese)


Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon is such an important film it created its own "effect." The most timeless of tales, it is a procedural in which a rape and murder is investigated through the contradictory re-tellings of four witnesses, each revealing something new and different and creating a plot that can never be fully remembered. In that, it is endlessly rewarding and re-watchable. 

Oldboy
Dir. Chan-wook Park, 2003
(From South Korea in Korean)


A man is kidnapped and held prisoner for 15 years, all the while preparing for the day he can be free and exact his revenge on whoever imprisoned him. That is only the start of this genius Korean action film that is equal parts thought-provoking, violent, and strange. The plot twist at the end is one I will never forget.

Three Films of Yimou Zhang 
(From China in Mandarin)

The films of Yimou Zhang (or Zhang Yimou, I never can get the Asian name structure) are pure eye-candy. All three of these fall into the Chinese action film sub-genre known as Wuxia, which basically encapsulates stories of martial arts, chivalry, betrayal, and romance set in Ancient China. Since I have previously used Ang Lee's Tawain-produced, Mandarin language masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I present to you a trilogy of similar films, released in the early-mid 2000s on the wings of the aforementioned film's success. In America, it seems we couldn't get enough of these films at the time, and, rightly so. These three films of famed Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang are visually perfect, colorful, and powerful. It's been years since I've seen any of them, and the plots escape me. But the images they leave behind can't be forgotten. I'll just let the visuals speak for themselves.

Hero
2002


House of Flying Daggers
2004


Curse of the Golden Flower
2006


19 comments:

  1. Rashomon, Oldboy, and House of Flying Daggers? Wow, your list is full of classics. Sadly, I've only watched the first two.

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  2. I also choose Oldboy. It turns out I'm not very good with Asian language films either (non horror, anyways) I'm completely stumped on a later week where we have to pick south east Asian films.

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    1. Yeah. I have no idea what I'll do about the Southeast Asian films. I'm pretty sure I've never seen one.

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  3. Yes, yes yes to the Zhang Yimou trilogy (although I still haven't seen Curse of the Golden Flower). Those films are so beautiful it HURTS.

    I also picked Rashomon - a classic for a reason. Figured a lot of people would pick Vengeance Trilogy films this week, but I'm bad and still haven't seen any of them. I need to get on that.

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    1. Oh yeah. Thanks man. So beautiful.

      Oldboy is the only of the trilogy that I've seen.

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  4. I'm so unknowledgeable in this particular avenue of film. I haven't even seen Rashomon though I know the story and have probably seen dozens of variations on it. I should put it on my Blind Spot list to make sure I catch it eventually.

    As for the others I've heard both Oldboy and House of Flying Daggers mentioned but have only that nodding acquaintance with them.

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    1. Rashomon, for me, has been the easiest Kurosawa film to get into. It is really solid.

      Both of those are definitely worth seeing. Oldboy is a wild ride. Really a cool, interesting film. All of the Chinese films I mentioned are lovely.

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  5. YES! The Zhang Yimou trilogy is incredible...so visually catching and just stunning to watch. Great picks here, even if I can't really stand Rashomon.

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    1. Thanks. It so is. Those movies are just pretty. I love Rashomon, man. Great story, well-told. I really need to see more Kurosawa.

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  6. I've seen everything here and I love four of them. Oldboy is one of favorite movies of all time. Some would argue that Rashomon is also an all-time great. I'm okay with that. Hero is amazing and so is House of the Flying Daggers. The latter is so underrated. Didn't much care for Curse of the Golden Flower. Love that you also included some martial arts. Great work!

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    1. I remember Curse of the Golden Flower being the weakest link of those three as well. House of Flying Daggers is my favorite of them. Just so beautiful. Definitely underrated. Thanks, buddy!

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  7. I have not seen any of these including the great Rashomon. The last 3 films I have heard about and must place them on my list to see. The beauty just in these pictures entice me enough. I don't have Netflix so hopefully I can find them at the video store(hahahaa)

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    1. Oh, get on it, Birgit. Plenty of great Asian cinema out there. The Zhang Yimou films especially are wonderful. I'm jealous that you live somewhere where video stores still exist. There isn't one near where I live, maybe one or two crappy ones in grocery stores, but that's it. Netflix or Redbox is literally the only way for me to watch movies. Very very sad. Keep your local video store alive as long as possible.

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  8. Yang Zimou's masterpieces all over the place! I love Hero, though.
    Park Chan-wook's are also masterpieces in a different idea and Akira Kurosawa's also great!!!

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  9. Both Oldboy and Rashomon are great picks. I would probably have gone with Yojimbo or Seven Samurai instead of Rashomon, though.

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    1. I am working my way, very slowly, through Kurosawa, and have yet to see Yojimbo or Seven Samurai. I will though.

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  10. I haven't seen any of Kurosawa's movies although I've been meaning to. Many are on Criterion now so picture quality should be good :)

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