10 Beautiful Asian Movies You Should Watch

Asian movies are not widely known in most western countries and as a huge fan of Asian cinema I can tell you; people who don’t watch them are missing out on the most beautiful movies ever made.

One of the most entertaining and fun ways to get to know a culture is through cinema. To get you started here are some truly remarkable and beautiful Asian movies that will help you understand more about each of these countries’ culture, its people but also about yourself and the human nature.

They’re all perfect pieces of cinema and while some got well known to western viewers as well there are still many perfect ones waiting to be discovered by cinema lovers all over the world. If you like good directing, beautiful cinemaphotography, great acting, captivating, & moving storytelling then these films will skyrocket to your “favorite movies” list. These are the top ten Asian movies that would deserve to be seen by everyone around the world.

10| Harakiri by Masaki Kobayashi | 1962, Japan

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Harakiri or Seppuku is a ritualized form of suicide by cutting one’s own stomach and it was a part of the bushido samurai code and considered one of the most honorable ways to die.

This story takes place in 1630 when ronin (unemployed samurai) wander the peaceful land. Our hero Tsugumo decides to kill himself because of the disgrace of being a jobless samurai is unbearable to him. But before he would do so he wants to tell a story. A story that will make you sit on the edge of your seat.

The director Masaki Kobayashi is one of the most admired directors in Japan after you watch this movie I’m sure you’ll join the Kobayashi team too. Samurai, beautiful cinemaphotography and a spellbinding story will make sure of your entertainment. 

Japanese movies are famous from beautiful cinemaphotography and heartfelt stroy telling and this piece fits right in.

9| Dolls by Takeshi Kitano | 2002, Japan

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Dolls is not here for everyone. It’s definitely a slow paced, some would say it’s melodramatic, and you have to have a certain sentimentalism in you to truly appreciate this movie. However, if you love neverending, pure love stories, beautiful cinema photography, and creative directing then this movie is going to be one of your favorites for sure.

Get some tissues ready because as the puppetry and live action mix together you will find yourself dragged into the sadness of Kitano’s characters… and they will break your heart big time.

8| Children of Heaven by Majid Majidi | 1997, Iran

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Children of Heaven serves a beautiful family movie with a simple but spirited story of a sister, a brother, and a pair of missing shoes.

It’s a perfect movie for the whole family, that will give you some never enough tale about the goodness in humanity and shows us a truly happy home where siblings love and support each other instead of constantly fighting. The movie has more than compelling storytelling, beautiful scenes will take you from old streets and alleys to the luxury homes and high-rises and helps you get a more realistic look at Iranians’ everyday life.

Iranian cinema may not be your first thought while trying to find a new movie to watch in the evening but Children of Heaven should make your list. Watch sooner thank me later.

7| Memories of Murder by  Bong Joon-ho | 2003, South Korea

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Memories of Murder is a moving detective story about a series of murders in rural Korea in 1986 under the military dictatorship. This movie has dark humor, social satire, sharp political commentary, beautiful shots, and a story that keeps on surprising its viewers until the very last shot.

This piece is definitely one of the best horror Korean movies ever made. If you like smart serial killer stories – or just smart stories – this movie is for you!

6| Three Idiots by Rajkumar Hirani | 2009, India

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3 idiots is a considerably new piece of Indian cinema despite the fact that is almost 10 years old. I choose this movie because it’s one of my favorites, because I have an undying love towards Aamir Khan, and because it gives you a great look into India’s (still) current cast system, and their hard work and dedication for a better life for themselves and their children.

There are thousands of beautiful movies were made in Bollywood, some even say 3 idiots is overrated and that there are so many other movies that worth mentioning before 3 Idiots. However, this movie is important because it shows us the changing India. It lets audiences connect and understand one of the most unique cultures on earth and it achieves that while being tremendously entertaining.

The story is quite simple, it revolves around Rancho and his classmates and how he teaches not just them but parents and teachers as well that thinking differently and being an “idiot” is the way to truly succeed in life.

This movie will make you cry, laugh (fall in love with Aamir Khan) and you will find yourself thinking that India’s far and foreign land just got a hell of a lot more closer, familiar, and relatable.

5| Rashomon 1950 by Akira Kurosawa | 1954, Japan

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Rashomon created by the legendary director Akira Kurosawa is here for you to take your breath away. I think this movie is another masterpiece that can be easily enjoyed by those too who are not a fan of old cinema.

The acting is brilliant, the narrative structure is innovative and the story explores reality vs perception and how subjective truth really is.

The story is about three men who find a shelter from a storm and while they wait for the storm to pass they discuss an incident where a bandit raped a woman, and about her husband who died soon after this incident. And while this may not sound the most exciting story you have ever heard you’ll be surprised how much this seemingly elementary story pulls you in and makes you think in a completely different way about reality.

4| Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winterโ€ฆ and Spring by Kim Ki-Duk | 2003, South Korea

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Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winterโ€ฆ and Spring beautifully reminds us of the circle of life. The story revolves around a young Monk and an older Monk who live in a small isolated floating monastery surrounded by mountains and trees.

It’s five short stories all tell a tale about how life changes, and how we evolve and experience it just like how seasons pass by. The movie is stunningly shot and while it’s slow paced it gives the viewer a meditative experience.

There will be many beautiful moments that will stick with you for a long long time.

3| Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee | 2000, China

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the best examples of what Chinese cinema was always so good at achieving; an artistic, smart, and exhilarating action movie. The kind you will enjoy even if you’re not a fan of action movies. Because this one is a truly enjoyable action movie with a good story and astonishing cinema photography. One of my favorite movies from the amazing director; Ang Lee.

The story is about a stolen sword, an epic romantic adventure, and a whole lot more.

In most Western action movies the story and fighting revolve around hate and around the fact that the good guy wants to catch the bad guy. While in most Asian action movies the main story is about how they fight against their own fears to achieve personal excellence and how the heroes push the limitations of their bodies. These stories tell more and do it more wondrously than most dramas.

2| Barfi! by Anurag Basu | 2012, India

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Barfi! is a modern masterpiece that gives us a little taste of the past’s silent movie era. I have a soft spot for silent movies and films with a somewhat unique concept and Barfi! has both. It plays a tribute to the giants of the silent era of Hollywood such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. So much so that their cutouts even made it into the movie.

Priyanka Chopra who plays Jhilmil and Ranbir Kapoor as Barfi both did an exceptional job in portraying these pure, kind, and difficult characters. The film’s main character is Barfi who cannot hear or talk but is full of life and pranks. The story is about his unconventional and bittersweet but joyous love triangle.

This movie is gloriously shot, will entertain you and surprise you over and over again. Not to mention that it’s able to make its viewer cry and laugh in the same scene. An all-time favorite for sure.

1| In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar-wai | 2000, China

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In the mood for love is a true visual masterpiece and a story about two soul’s longing, heartbreak, and loneliness.  Wong Kar Wai cooperated with two extraordinary cinematographers Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping Bin and the results speak for themselves.

I’ve first seen this movie couple of years ago now but I still have such strong emotions every time I think about it.
A simple romance story acted out and shot so beautifully that it made the world move.

With all its remarkable sensuality and melancholy, this movie is a treasure of modern cinema.

Do you want more entertainment from Asia?
Check out a list of some  Asian musicians, or the best anime shows.
Or if you crave for some best animated movie pleasures you can check out our favorites.

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Thank you for reading!