100 Asian movies you cannot miss (2016) – Part 3


We present the 3rd part of the Asian movies & documentaries you cannot miss.

To know more about how we build this list you can check Part 1 (HERE).


Old Stone (Lao Shi) by Johnny Ma – China, Canada | 2016 – 80 min.

After he is responsible for a car accident, Mr. Old Stone, a taxi driver in small-town China has to face the absurdity wrought by contemporary, Kafkaesque Chinese bureaucracy. With his family, friends and his work endangered – he begins to wonder if murder is a way out?



Pamilya Ordinaryo

Ordinary People (Pamilya Ordinaryo) by Eduardo Roy Jr. – Philippines | 2016 – 107 min.

Ordinary People is a family portrait of Jane, 16, and her boyfriend, Aries, who live on their own in the chaotic streets of Manila. Surviving as pickpockets, the lives of the young couple change when they suddenly become teenage parents. But not even a month into parenthood, their child is stolen from them. In order to retrieve the child, the young couple is forced to take desperate measures.




Our Little Sister by Koreeda Hirokazu – Japan | 2015 – 128 min.

Adapted from the bestselling serialized manga Umimachi Diary, the new film from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda (Like Father, Like Son) is a deeply affecting drama about a fractured, all-female family. After their estranged father’s death, three twentysomething sisters discover that they have a teenaged step-sibling whom they had never known of. Taking the shy young girl into their shared home, the sisters find their long-suppressed memories of their unhappy childhood stirred — and the painful past becomes fully present once more when the mother who had abandoned them suddenly reappears after 15 years. (TIFF Catalogue)



Our Love Story

Our Love Story by Lee Hyun-ju – South Korea | 2015 – 99 min.

Yoon-ju is a graduate student of fine arts and is working on her graduation exhibition. One day, while she is searching materials for her project, she runs into Ji-soo at a junk shop. Watching Ji-soo in an odd place, Yoon-ju finds herself drawn to her. After their initial encounter, Yoon-ju once again runs into Ji-soo at a convenience store, and the two eventually start dating. Never having enjoyed dating men, Yoon-ju finds Ji-soo fascinating and becomes completely infatuated with her. (SIWFF Catalogue)



Oyster Factory

Oyster Factory by Soda Kazuhiro – Japan, USA | 2015 – 145 min.

In the Japanese town of Ushimado, the shortage of labour is a serious problem. Traditionally, oyster shucking has been a job for local men and women, but for a few years now, some of the factories have had to use foreigners in order to keep functioning. Hirano oyster factory has never employed any outsiders but finally decides to bring in two workers from China. Will all the employees get along?



Path of the souls

Paths of the Soul by Zhang Yang – China | 101min.

Paths of the Soul is a beautifully poetic, deeply affecting and brilliantly simple odyssey of devotion seen through the eyes of a group of pilgrims from a small village deep in the isolated Tibetan countryside. The film unfolds in such a wonderful way from the opening moments. What starts out as a chance conversation about the possibilities of a pilgrimage between two men herding their Yaks soon filters through the village and becomes a fait accompli involving young, old, male and female, able and not so able.

But the pilgrimage is more difficult than anyone can imagine as the small group must traverse 1200kms of inhospitable territory, blizzards, rockfalls, floods and all manner of misfortune – all the while having to prostrate themselves to the ground every few steps in prayer.




Port of Call by Aaron Kwok – South Korea | 2015 – 126 min.

Detective Chong of the Hong Kong Police Force takes the lead on a murder investigation of a dismembered 16-year-old prostitute girl, Wong Kai Mui. But when the killer, Ding Chi Chung, willingly surrenders himself and confesses to the crime, Chong turns his focus on why it happened at all. By delving deeper into the lives and histories of both the murderer and victim, Chong finds answers but struggles to understand what they mean. (DramaForReal)




Rage by Lee Sang-il – Japan | 2016 – 142 min.

A new masterpiece will be born into the pantheon of Japanese film! This highly anticipated release from the team of Villain is a whodunit about a murder in this paranoid era where the advancement of SNS and mobile technology easily raises doubts about family, friends, and even loved ones. The murder becomes the catalyst for fundamentally calling into question what it is to truly “believe”.




Red Clothes by Chan Lida | Cambodia – 2016 – 65 min.

In a suburb of Phnom Penh, where Cambodia’s textile industry is flourishing, Ty Sophanith lives with his wife and his five years old son. The young workers, former peasant from the countryside of Kampong Chhnang, were hired by the factory, supplier to the well-known brands in the West, but the couple lives in starvation wage. Sophanith was wounded by the police bullets during a demonstration for their better working conditions, The Cambodian workers’ demonstration is getting violent.



Red Tomb by Gu Ja-hwan – South Korea | 2015 – 97 min.

From the time of Korea’s liberation from Japan until a ceasefire was called to the Korean War in 1953, more than 1,000,000 civilians were sacrificed. It became a back and forth slaughter between the left and the right, but the slaughter of many victims also came at the hands of South Korean armed forces, right-wing groups, and bombing by US troops. In the middle of it all, as a level of preventative measure during the early stages of the Korean War, were the detained and massacred National Guidance Alliance members. Of the estimated 230,000-450,000 members across the country, the majority were farmers, and were people with no interest in political ideology. For no other reason than joining a government-made enlightenment group, these people, without even receiving a trial, were falsely victimized. All because of national ideological standards that had nothing directly to do with the Korean War. (HanCinema)




Redha by Tunku Mona Riza – Malaysia | 2015 – 115 min.

Upon the discovery that their only son Danial is autistic, Alina and Razlan’s world crumbles as they struggles to confront the harsh realities of raising a child disabled by a condition they hardly knew about. Razlan’s inability to accept the truth causes friction within the family, but Alina’s perseverance and maternal instinct help wade through the difficult times raising Danial. With her sister and a close friend by her side, they may have found a way to improve Danial’s quality of life until a tragic accident causes the family to re-think its strategy. (WPFF Catalogue)




Reflections by Brillante Mendoza, Isao Yukisada and Sotho Kulikar
Japan, Philipppines, Cambodia | 2016

Shinium (Dead Horse) by Mendoza depicts an illegal Filipino immigrant in Japan who returns to his homeland for the first time in decades after being deported. The Filipino director as been known for deft portrayals of ordinary Filipino men bravely and proudly overcoming extraordinary situations. This time around, he grapples with the issue of the loss of national identity and home, setting his story in Obihiro area of Hokkaido and Manila. Lou Veloso, one of the Philippines’ most heralded actors plays the lad role.

Pigeon, by Isao Yukisada (Japan), is set in Malaysia, a land that was once invaded by the Japanese army but is now home to many Japanese retirees living out their remaining years. The story revolves around an elderly man who has parted from his family in Japan to live on an estate with a pigeon coop, and depicts discord with his son and his relationship with a young female Malaysian caretaker. His distant memories of the Pacific War at Plau Penang also come back to him. The film stars one of Japan’s most celebrated actors, Masahiko Tsugawa.

Beyond The Bridge, by Kulikar is a love story that transcends time and borders. It portrays a love story that begins in Cambodia against the backdrop of the nation’s civil war and the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge located in Phnom Penh. The piece stars Masaya Kato, a prolific Japanese actor who is active internationally. Playing opposite Kato is Cambodian dancer-choreographer Chumvan Sodhachivy, who recently appeared in Amon Miyamoto’s theatrical production “The Terrace of the Leper King in Japan”.




Right now, Wrong Then by Hong Sang-soo – South Korea | 2015 – 121 min.

By mistake, film director Ham Chun-su arrives in Suwon a day early and has time to kill before his screening the next day. He stops by a restored, old palace and meets a painter named Yoon Hee-jung. They spend time together visiting her studio, having dinner, spending time drinking with Hee-jung’s friends and they end up growing close to each other. But when Chun-su is asked if he is married, he has no choice but to reveal that he is, deeply disappointing Hee-jung… (TransilvaniaIFF Catalogue)




Ringgo: The Dog-Shooter by Rahyan Carlos – Philippines | 2015 – 114 min.

Ringgo works for BONG, a 40-year old lesbian who is a breeder of dogs. One of Bong’s dogs is I’nca, who is a troubled Doberman. Things will get complicated when Ringgo, I’nca and Bong developed a relationship as if they were really mother and child, and get entangled in each other’s personal issues and becomes each other’s protector and defender. The one that ties the three of them is that invisible umbilical cord… the cord of love and sacrifice. (WPFF Catalogue)




Sakaling Hindi Makarating by Ice Idanan – Philippines | 2016 – 90 min.

A series of mysterious hand-illustrated postcards take a young woman on a journey throughout the Philippines in search of its anonymous writer.




Sayonara by Fukada Koji – Japan | 2015 – 112 min.

The near future. As Japan has become contaminated with radiation, the government decides to evacuate its residents. Left behind is a South African refugee, Tanya, and her android caretaker, Leona. The two are left alone together to contemplate life and death. What separates them? What meaning does “life” and “death” carry for humans and robots, respectively?




Sori Voices from the heart by Lee Ho-jae – South Korea | 2015 – 117 min.

The scene is Daegu in 2003, and Haegwan’s only daughter Yuju goes missing. Haegwan scours the country for his lost daughter for 10 years with no signs or clues as to her whereabouts. When everyone advises him to give up on her, he meets “Sori”, a robot that can remember all the voices in the world. The robot crash-lands in Korea, while drifting in space as a wiretapping satellite, and Haegwan is suddenly filled with new hope that he might find his daughter using this robot.

Although it uses the concept of a wiretapping robot falling into Korea, which would be an appropriate premise for a sci-fi movie, SORI: Voice from the Heart is not a spectacular sci-fi epic. It actually centers on typically Korean family-oriented themes, such as conflict between the conservative father and his rebellious daughter, major and minor hiccups between the robot with its unexpected charm, and the failure of a father’s paternal love. “Should we be grateful for protection?” The robot’s question remains serenely resonant. (BIFF Catalogue 2016)




Soul on a String by Zhang Yang – China | 2016 – 142 min.

Tabei has led a hard life of violence and murder. One day, he sees a deer swallowing a holy relic and decides to kill it in order to take the treasure. However, lightning suddenly strikes and kills him. A living Buddha brings his soul back to the land of the living and tells him to cleanse himself by taking the relic to the Lotus Master’s home, the Palm Print Land on the snow-capped mountain of Kelong. On his way, Tabei meets the beautiful Chung and spends the night with her. They leave on a long journey with a mysterious little boy. Just behind them, two brothers, seeking vengeance for their murdered father, are in close pursuit. When Tabei finally reaches the snow-capped mountain to return the relic, the two brothers catch up to him.



Spirits’ Homecoming

Spirits’ Homecoming by Cho Jung-rae – South Korea | 2015 – 127 min.

In 1943, an ingenuous 14-year-old girl, Jeong-min is taken away from her family by Japanese army. Jeongmin is accompanied with lots of other girls including Young-hee who also is brought in a train whose destination is unknown to the girls. Jeong-min and other girls are thrown out into the middle of a freezing battle field of World War II. What awaits them is the site filled with miserable pain and agony forged by Japanese soldiers.




Still and All by Kim Youngjo – South Korea | 2015 – 92 min.

Yeongdo Bridge has opened up again after 47 years, placing the Yeongdo Island at the center of change and revitalization. However, there are some people living underneath the bridge with the hope that things would just stay the same. Among them, there are a temporarily employed welder for decades in the shipyard that is going to close down, an old crippled lady living with her old dog, an old deaf female diver who collects shells and seaweed for a living, and the only and last two grandma fortune tellers who still remain without visitors in Yeongdo, once the street full of fortune tellers and their numerous customers. Regardless of their hope, they all are driven to move out by the city government planning to make the island into a tourist attraction by reconstructing it. Still and all, they do not want to leave their lifelong homes despite all the pressure on them from the city government…




Sunakali by Bhojraj Bhat – Nepal 51 min.

A story of women football, where girls are used to play football above 3500m high in the Western Nepal’s Himalayan region, where girls are struggling with their parents just to play football




Sunday Beauty Queen by Baby Ruth Villarama – Philippines | 2016 – 93 min.

In Hong Kong, more than 190,000 female Filipina immigrants work as house maids. They live in with their employers and provide 24-hour services six days per week, with just Sunday off. Twenty-nine-year-old Cherry goes to Chater Garden near Central Station to enjoy her day off after a tough working week. Cherry and her friends are busy rehearsing their dancing and catwalk model walking for a beauty contest. Director Baby Ruth Villarama meticulously blends the exhausting daily lives of five such live-in maids and the dreamlike, one-day distraction of Sunday. Having hosted this beauty contest since 2008, Leo explains that this pageant is a charity event that enhances the self-esteem of female immigrants from the Philippines, and provides practical help too. The “Miss Philippines Tourism Hong Kong” event follows the typical format of government-led beauty contests. It’s hosted in the middle of Hong Kong’s Central area creating a subculture and it becomes the only space for these women to show themselves off, a moment when they can dream of something else and forget their identities as immigrant workers. (Hong Soin – BIFF Catalogue 2016)




Ta’ang by Wang Bing – Hong Kong | 2016 – 147 min.

The TA’ANG, a Burmese ethnic minority, are caught between a civil war and the Chinese border. Since early 2015, heavy fights have forced thousands of children, women and older people on an exodus across the border into China. TA’ANG follows the daily life of these refugees, forced to leave their home but hoping to return soon.




Taklub by Brillante Mendoza – Philippines | 2015 – 117 min.

After the Supertyphoon Haiyan, which changed the city of Tacloban in the Philippines into its horrendous state, the lives of Bebeth, Larry and Erwin intertwine. The survivors are left to search for the dead, while keeping their sanity intact, and protecting what little faith there may be left. A series of events continue to test their endurance.



Ten Years

Ten Years by Ng Ka-Leung, Kwok Zune, Kwun-wai Chow, Jevons Au, Wong Fei-Pang
Hong Kong | 2015 – 103 min.

Five shorts, which imagine what Hong Kong will be like in ten years. Five young Hong Kong directors raise questions about the most central issues concerning the city, and the audience is invited to ponder. All the stories are independent, yet at the same time, intricately related to one another, attempting to portray decisions and struggles of humanity in a dark age.



100 Asian Movies

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