Our shortlist of the best movies from Asian cinema.
By
21 Sep 2015 - 5:28 PM  UPDATED 24 Sep 2015 - 2:49 PM

20. The Thieves (South Korea) 

Dubbed the Korean “Ocean’s Eleven,” this Korean heist film could give the Hollywood version a run for its money. The lineup comprises of Korean A-listers (Kim Hye-soo, Lee Jung-Jae Kim Youn-seok, Gianna Jun and Kim Soo-hyun) and delivers a witty tale about a casino theft. It’s stylish and intriguing with just the right mix of eclectic personalities. The film also made Korean box office history with half a million tickets sold on the first day and more than 10 million tickets sold in the first three weeks. 

[Screening @ 8:35pm on Friday, October 2 on SBS 2]

19. Lan Kwai Fong 3 (Hong Kong)

Enter Hong Kong's steamy nightlife again with Lan Kwai Fong 3, the third installment in Wilson Chin's sexy and fun comedy movie series set in Hong Kong's wildest nightclub district. Stories of mutual attraction, hate and unrequited love continue with four hedonistic young women who may not be single but are always available.

[Screening @ 11:00pm on Friday, October 2 on SBS 2]

18. Miracle in Cell No.7 (South Korea)

A heartwarming tale about an unexpected guest in a prison cell full of hardened criminals. When a mentally challenged man Yong-gu (Ryu Seungryong) is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, he not only loses his freedom but his beloved daughter Ye-seung (Gal Sowon). There is a strict no-visitors policy at the penentiantry, so the inmates come up with a plot to smuggle Yong-gu’s daughter in. It will warm the coldest hearts with its themes of love and family.

17. Summer Wars (Japan)

From Mamoru Hosoda, the visionary director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, comes the story of an ordinary family going to extraordinary lengths to avert the impending cyber apocalypse! Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He's good at math, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has -- until the girl of his dreams, Natsuki, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiancé at her family reunion. Things only get stranger from there.

[Screening @ 3:30pm on Saturday, October 3 on SBS 2]

16. 20th Century Boys (Japan)

Based on the popular manga series created by Naoki Urasawa, 20th Century Boys is an epic three-part sci-fi fantasy adventure. The first film begins in 1969 when young Kenji and his school friends spend their summer holidays playing war in a secret cubby house and record their fantasies in the Book of Prophecies. Years later, when one of Kenji's old classmates dies, a strange series of events is sparked that come straight out of their childhood imaginings. 

[Screening @ 12:30am on Saturday, October 3 on SBS 2] 

15. Lost in Thailand (China)

A comedy about a road trip to Thailand embarked on by three Chinese men, the film hit all the right spots with the home audience. When Xu Lang (Xu Zheng) invents a solution which increasese the volume of any liquid, he seeks the approval of Mr Zhou, the biggest shareholder of an investment fund. To find Mr Zhou, Xu Lang travels to Thailand. But Xu is pursued by college mate and colleague Gao Bo (Huang Bo) who wants to sell the solution to a French company. 

14. Space Dandy (Japan) 

From director Shinichiro Watanabe and the creative team behind cult classic COWBOY BEBOP comes SPACE DANDY - a dandy in space! This dreamy adventurer with a to-die-for pompadour travels across the galaxy in search of aliens no one has ever laid eyes on. Each new species he discovers earns him a hefty reward, but this dandy has to be quick on his feet because it’s first come – first served! Join the best dressed alien hunter in all of space and time as he embarks on an adventure that ends at the edge of the universe. 

[Screening @ 10:30pm on Saturday, October 2 and 10:50pm on Sunday, October 3 on SBS 2]

13. Assasination Classroom (Japan)

Forget about homework and pop quizzes. The students of Class 3E have a far more important assignment: kill their teacher before the end of the year! A tentacle-d sensei that moves at Mach 20 is out to conquer the classroom after destroying seventy percent of the moon. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, the murderous monster behind the lectern will teach his students everything he knows about the assassination game. This anime series was adapted into a blockbuster live action film, which topped the Japanese box office on its release in March 2015.

[Screening @ 11:30pm on Saturday, October 3 and 11:50pm on Sunday, October 4 on SBS 2]

12. Monster Hunt (China)

Released this year, the hunt revolves around a baby monster Huba, who is not only cute but the child of a human and a monster queen.  Starring Wei Tang and Beihe Bai, the film highlights the conundrum of a hybrid creature that is shunned from both sides. CGI in the movie impressed international fans and helped make it the highest grossing Chinese film of all time. 

11. Wolf Children (Japan)

Wolf Children is a staggeringly beautiful animated feature film from director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars), who has been billed as the 'next Miyazaki'. This epic cinematic achievement follows Tokyo university student Hana, a woman who falls in love with a solitary youth in her lecture group. This quiet, brooding man has an astounding secret: he has both human and wolf blood, and can become a wolf at will. Hana's love is steadfast however, and soon they have two children - a boisterous girl Yuki and her far quieter little brother Ame - both of whom inherit their father's power to transform. 

[Screening @ 3:30pm on Sunday, October 4 on SBS 2]

10. The King and the Clown (South Korea)

This is the film that launched the career of Lee Joon-gi, it’s a beautiful and tragic tale about a pair of actors (and friends) that catch the eye of a tyrannical king. Jang-sang (Kam Woo-sung) and Gong-gil (Lee Joon-gi) travel the country performing satires. One day, when they are arrested by the king's men for mocking the monarch, they are given an ultimatum. If they can make the King laugh, they can go free. Much to the surprise of everyone, the King laughs at the pair and the two are appointed as court jesters. But before long, it becomes clear that the king is interested in Gong-gil for another reason.  

9. Spirited Away (Japan)

This classic anime is written and directed by the one and only Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The tale told is one of Chihiro Ogino, a 10-year-old girl who enters the realm of the spirits while moving to a new neighborhood.  When it was released in 2001, it became the most succesful film in Japanese history (overtaking Titanic), grossing about $330 million worldwide.

 

8. Masquerade (South Korea) 

This palace saga is centered on the 15th king of the Joseon Dynasty. When King Gwanahae (Lee Byung-hun) feels that his life may be in danger, he order his council to find a body double. A clown is entrusted to the job, but before long it becomes hard to tell the real from the fake. Lee Byung-hun gives a stellar performance juggling two roles: one of a clown and the other of a king. Visually too, everything from the costumes to the sets will take your breath away. 

7. Bayside Shakedown 2 (Japan)

Based on the popular Bayside Shakedown TV series, the film depicts the Japanese police force in a comical narrative. It is also the only highest grossing non-animated Japanese movie and tells the tale of a fictional station called Wangan in Tokyo. 

6. Antarctica (Japan)

An oldie but a goodie, “Antarctica,” or Nankyoku  Monogatari (South Pole story) is an 80s film about the the Japanese Antarctic team and the dogs that were left chained at the base in the 50s. Hollywood’s rendition “Eight Below” starring Paul Walker may be more familiar to the western audience. 

5. Hana And Alice (Japan)

A classic teen romance, the film is a whimsical glimpse into the life of the titular Hana (Anne Suzuki) and Alice (Yu Aoi). The two are best of friends, but when they enter into high school, change comes at a rapid pace. In the face of trials and new relationships, the girls learn to hold on to things they hold dear and learn also to let go. 

4. Love (Taiwan)

Following in the footsteps of Love Actually and countless Hollywood Valentine's Day specials comes Love, a feelgood Taiwanese rom-com featuring a star-studded cast including Shu Qi and Vicki Zhao. The movie takes the form of three interlocking stories of romance.

[Screening @ 8:30pm on Sunday, October 4 on SBS 2]

3. The Wind Rises (Japan)

Yet another Hayao Miyazaki creation, this time served with an extra dose of controversy. The anime is a biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi fighter aircraft of WWII. It was Miyazaki’s final film before retirement and focused on Jiro's love story, but many claimed that the anime glorified war and the controversial character that it’s based on.

2. Werewolf Boy (South Korea) 

Starring Song Joong-ki and Park Bo-young, the film tells the tale of Soon-yi (Park) and her family who move to the countryside for her health. While there, she encounters a feral boy (Song) whom she tames and learns to care for. Trouble brews when a local playboy Jitae falls for Soon-yi and gets jealous of the werewolf boy. 

1. 20 Once Again (Taiwan) 

MengJun is a stubborn and cranky granny who falls into depression when she finds out that her family has decided to send her to a senior home. While walking, she comes across a photo studio where she dresses up and takes a photo for her eventual funeral. On her bus ride back home, she is startled to see that the 70-year old woman’s face is gone, replaced by a stunning face of a young woman! Starring former EXO member Luhan, this is a Chinese remake of the Korean smash hit comedy MISS GRANNY.

[Screening @ 8:30pm on Saturday, October 3 on SBS 2]

 

Catch some of these top pieces of Asian cinema during SBS 2's Pop! Weekend on October 2-4.

Full schedule and show information at sbs.com.au/popweekend 

Check out the full schedule...
Pop! Weekend on SBS 2 TV Guide - SUNDAY OCTOBER 4
Pop! Weekend is here! All Asian Entertainment coming at you on SBS 2 all long weekend.
Pop! Weekend on SBS 2 TV Guide - SATURDAY OCTOBER 3
Pop! Weekend is here! All Asian Entertainment coming at you on SBS 2 all long weekend.
Pop! Weekend on SBS 2 TV Guide - FRIDAY OCTOBER 2
Pop! Weekend is here! All Asian Entertainment coming at you on SBS 2 all long weekend.