100 Asian movies you cannot miss (2019) – Part 2

We continue with our list of 100 Asian Films & Documentaries from 2019 that you shouldn’t miss.

About the list:
Each year after covering over 150 Asian festivals we select our favorite movies. As usual we try to be fair and select films from all genres. Please bear in mind that these are the films we discovered in 2019 so there could be productions from 2018. To make things a little bit easier we divided the list in four parts, you can check the whole list in the “100 Asian Films” section (top-right part in our website). As always, we hope you like our selection. Please feel free to share this article with your cinephiles friends and leave a comment below. Thanks – Sebastián Nadilo



Edward by Thop Nazareno – Philippines | 2019 – Fiction

A public hospital serves as a witness to a young boy’s rite of passage when he is stuck to take care of his ailing father. Caught in a place where life itself is in limbo, the boy treats the hospital grounds as his playground, not knowing that it will be his source of liberation in the end.




Eeb Allay Ooo

Eeb Allay Ooo! by Prateek Vats – India | 2019 – 98 minutes – Fiction

A young migrant battles hordes of monkeys in the heart of New Delhi as a contractual monkey repeller – a newly created government job to tackle the monkeys who have been further emboldened by the recent ban on the use of captive langurs – their natural enemy.




Erica 38

Erica 38 by Hibi Yuichi – Japan | 2019 – 104 minutes – Fiction

“What is one’s true self…?” There is a woman who swindled money out of men with her charm, and out of women with her stories, even after turning sixty. Some say the amount she had extorted was 700 million, others say 800 million. The woman splurged the fraudulent money, lived an extravagant life, and had a lover in Thailand. He was in his twenties, living in a farm village. She lied about her age, saying she was “38 years old”. The “38 year-old” in her short skirt exposing her thin legs is arrested in a foreign country. When deluged by the media, she smiles and says, “I’m a victim too, this is some kind of mistake”. What was it that Kirin Kiki wanted to portray through this film? Was it the comical and sad nature of a woman who lived her life on the edge? What is the “true self” that lies deep inside every human…?





Evaporated by Kim Sungmin – Korea | 2019 – 126 minutes Documentary

A girl was missing, and her father has searched for her whereabouts for 17 years. The film depicts the life of families left behind. They can’t give up nor keep searching. Their lives should go on. The film asks what is left after someone is evaporated. (DMZ Docs)



Every Day a Good Day

Every Day a Good Day by Ohmri Tatsushi – Japan | 2018 – 100 minutes – Fiction

Noriko at twenty still hasn’t decided what she wants to do. By chance, she begins attending a Japanese tea ceremony classes which naturally becomes a part of her daily life. The warm tea provides comfort at times when she is turned away from a job opportunity, or when she suffers from losing a loved one.




Fly Me To Saitama

Fly Me To The Saitama by Hideki Takeuchi – Japan | 2019 – 107 minutes – Fiction

Momomi, the son of Tokyo’s governor, often told he looks like a girl, falls in love with the mysterious Rei. Soon Momomi has to decide between his family and Rei. The latest extravagant adaptation of the eponymous manga plays like Romeo and Juliet on speed with added sugar frosting and high octane action.




G Affair

G Affairs by Lee Cheuk-pan – Hong Kong | 2018 – 105 minutes – Fiction

A brooding cellist plays in his apartment. A policeman meets his prostitute lover next door. A head crashes through a window. Thus begins this myriad of strange stories that satellite around the bad cop’s daughter, pretty and top of her class high school student Yu Ting. She is having an affair with her teacher while the cellist and an easily manipulated autistic man pine after her. As this menagerie of odd souls intertwines, the mystery unravels, reflecting the darker chasms of Hong Kong society. Lee Cheuk-pan’s outrageous debut is the desperate scream of a bold and shocking new cinematic voice. (NYAFF’s Website)




Garden Zoological

Garden, Zoological by Mincheol Wang – Korea | 2018 – 97 min. – Documentary

The animals in the zoo, although some may haven’t completely lost their innate instincts, are unlikely to survive if released back to the wild. Ultimately, the zoo may well be the new habitat where they must adapt themselves to live. (Hot Docs 2019)




Graves Without a Name

Graves Without a Name by Rithy Panh – France, Cambodia | 2018 – 116 min. – Documentary

Picking up where his Oscar-nominated The Missing Picture (2013) left off, Rithy Panh continues his profound journey into the lasting effects of the Cambodian genocide. Revolving around his search for the remains of his perished family, this touching and contemplative documentary, with mournfully beautiful images and poetic voiceover, provides a multilayered exploration of his personal trauma and spiritual redemption, and a deep probe into the “baksbat” (Khmer for “broken courage”) that haunts Cambodia’s past and present. (HKIFF Catalogue)





Hardcore by Yamashita Nobuhiro – Japan | 2018 – 124 minutes – Fiction

Adaptation of the outlaw manga with story by Marley Caribu and artwork by Takashi Imashiro. Ukon is a pure-hearted social misfit who spends his days helping a weird activist search for hidden treasure. The only friend in life is his co-worker Ushiyama. Ukon’s younger brother Sakon is an elite trading company employee and worries about these two donothing guys, but unexpected events unfold as a mysterious robot appears…




Heavy Craving

Heavy Craving by Hsieh Pei-ju – Taiwan | 2019 – 90 minutes – Fiction

Thirty-year-old Ying-Juan, who weighs 105 kilograms, is a great cook. She works as a lunch lady at her mother’s daycare center. Neighborhood children and people ridicule and sneer at her for her weight, but Ying-Juan is confident about herself. When her mother gives her a membership for a weight management clinic as a birthday present, Ying-Juan is forced to start dieting, but it doesn’t help her lose weight. Then one day, she meets Wu. A bright and kind deliveryman, Wu rescues Ying-Juan from danger by chance, and the two become friends. Wu always encourages Ying-Juan and sides with her. But when Ying-Juan learns his secret and the real reason he approached her, she falls into a shock. Presenting a story about the hypocrisy and prejudice hidden behind external beauty in today’s era of superficiality, Heavy Craving sends a message about what is more important than appearance. (Chae Bohyun)




Height of the Wave

Height of the Wave by Park Jungbum – Korea | 2019 – 95 minutes | Fiction

Yeon-su, the police officer, is dispatched to an island and starts to witness strange situations. Yae-un, who lives in the island after she lost her parents when she was young, and the others´ behavior terrifies Yeon-su. Film director Park who constantly focused on stories related to human greed and collapse, deeply explores the guilt of human and the possibility of redemption again.




Hello my cat

Hello, My Cat by Shin Hyejin & Bok Woonsuk – Korea | 2019 – 98 minutes – Fiction

4 separate stories about the special relationships owners have with their cats and the positive inspiration they can bring to our lives.




House of Hummingbird

House of Hummingbird by Kim Bora – Korea | 2018 – 138 minutes – Fiction

Set against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Seoul in 1994, a lonely 14-year-old Eunhee moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness wherever she may find it. Deprived of attention from her family, she roams the neighborhood with her best friend and apprehensively experiments with her emergent sexuality. When Young-ji, a new teacher, arrives, she becomes the first adult Eunhee feels really understands her. House of Hummingbird, a lyrical portrait of teenaged uncertainty and insecurity, tries to render the atmosphere of 90’s Seoul and uses this time and place to reflect changes in Eunhee’s personal life. In her broken world tinged with subtle beauty, Eunhee’s search for love – familial, romantic, and platonic – leads her to ask questions that the world does not answer. (Taipei Film Festival’s Website)




Documentary of the Journalist

I: Documentary of the Journalist by Tatsuya Mori – Japan | 2019 – 120 minutes – Documentary

This documentary from the producer of The Journalist and director Tatsuya Mori, known for A and Fake, follows the real-life female journalist, Isoko Mochizuki, on whom the protagonist was loosely based.




Innocent Witness

Innocent Witness by Lee Han – South Korea | 2019 – 129 min.

Seeking to clinch lucrative partner status at a renowned law firm, an ambitious lawyer must defend a suspect in a high-profile murder case in which the only witness is an autistic teenage girl. As the reclusive girl opens up, the lawyer rediscovers the true value of life. Celebrated star Jung Woo-sung and talented newcomer Kim Hyang-gi beautifully bring out the sensitivities of a complex yet simple relationship, adding flashes of care and warmth to a captivating courtroom drama.





Iska by Theodore Boborol – Philippines | 2019

Iska, a loving but impoverished grandmother of an abandoned child tragicomically loses everything and turns into someone society reckons her to be.





Jallikattu by Lijo Jose Pellissery – India | 2019 – 91 minutes – Fiction

“Jallikattu” is a ritual or a game that has been played since before the common era in India’s Tamil region. Similar to a rodeo, the person who stays the longest on the back of an ox is considered the winner. The film begins in a quiet village in the countryside, with a buffalo running away from a slaughterhouse. The village men try to capture the beast, and even the men from neighboring villages start to join in, creating chaos intermingled with confusion, violence, and hatred beyond control.

Jallikattu addresses the issues of latent brutality and madness in humans, particularly how the violence and savageness ruled by manliness are justified, expressed, and accepted. The screams of men and beasts and the sound of people s s footsteps fill the screen as soon as the film begins, along with the music with an intense beat that matches the tempo. Lijo Jose PELLISSERY’s directing captures the chaotic scenes intermingled with dozens of people with a rapid rhythm, making the viewers unable to tear their eyes away from the screen for even a second. (PARK Sun Young)





Jam by Sabu – Japan | 2018 – 102 minutes

An overzealous fan kidnaps pop star Hiroshi, Tetsuo is trying to shake off his former gangster colleagues and Takeru hopes to awaken his comatose girlfriend by doing three good deeds per day. The latest thriller comedy by SABU is fast paced, highly energetic and completely unpredictable.





Jesus by Hiroshi Okuyama – Japan | 2018 – 77 minutes

Nine-year-old Yura moves with his parents from Tokyo to a countryside town to join the boy’s grandmother. A shy boy, Yura must adapt to a new school, complicated by the fact that it’s a Christian institution. At first Yura struggles with the religious enthusiasm of his classmates but when, in the midst of prayer, a very small Jesus (played energetically by Australian comedian Chad Mullane) manifests himself, the boy quickly comes to the faith. Jesus becomes his entertaining playmate with the added advantage of making Yura’s every wish come true. Behind the gentle, humorous and playful veneer, the talented 23-year-old Okuyama (who made his first music video at age 13) makes a pointed commentary on faith and religion.





Jinpa by Pema Tseden – China | 2019 – 86 minutes

On an isolated road passing through the vast barren plains of Tibet, a truck driver, who has accidentally run over a sheep, chances upon a young man, who is hitching a ride. As they drive and chat, the truck driver notices that his new friend has a silver dagger strapped to his leg. He comes to understand that his man is out to kill someone, who wronged him earlier in life. When their paths separate their short time together has changed everything, and their destinies are inexorably intertwined.




John Denver Trending

John Denver Trending by Condez Arden Rod – Philippines | 2019 – 96 minutes – Fiction

John Denver is a quiet, ordinary eighth grader who lives with his mom. During a school dance practice, a classmate who is broadcasting the practice on social media plays a mean prank on John. Upset, John leave the practice early, only to be accused of stealing the boy’s iPad. John retaliates to his bully, and their fight is filmed and uploaded on social media. The video of John attacking his classmate goes viral, and his peaceful life is completely destroyed.

John Denver Trending starts with a remarkable opening scene that shows the filming of the video. It is then followed by images of social media screen, instant messages, and cleverly manipulated editing process to effectively present the incident that completely spirals out of control in real time. Rather than focusing on the truth of the matter, the film explores the ubiquity of online violence committed by numerous anonymous perpetrators. But above all, the ensemble acting of the strong mother who struggles through this incident and the tenderhearted son with expressive eyes particularly stands out in this film. (PARK Sun Young)




Junha’s Planet

Junha’s Planet by Hong Hyung-sook – Korea | 2018 – 109 minutes | Documentary

Junha is one of the most difficult children at the school. His autism causes him to attack his classmates and even teachers without warning. Each outburst further isolates Junha from his community as his teachers and peers struggle to find a way to live “with” Junha. The camera provides an intimate look into this society, leaving the question; what is human entity and how is it connected?




Just like that

Just like that (Aise Hi) by Kislay – India | 2019 – 109 minutes – Fiction

Mrs. Sharma is the wife of a respected, small-time government employee in small-town Allahabad. When her husband dies, she is expected to move in with her son and grandchildren. But the woman wants to live by herself. She stops going to the temple, buys herself things without worrying about the expense, makes friends with a girl half her age and chooses to spend more time with her new friend than with her family. When Mrs. Sharma decides to learn doll-making with a Muslim tailor called Ali, the entire locality, including her own family, slowly turn against her. In a climate of increasing tensions, Ali begins to fear for his life, and Mrs. Sharma must face the consequences.




Krabi 2562 by Anocha Suwichakornpong – Thailand, UK | 2019 – 93 minutes – Fiction

Krabi, 2562 explores the landscape and stories within the community of Krabi, Southern Thailand. The filmmakers want to capture the town in this specific moment where the pre-historic, the more recent past and the contemporary world collide, sometimes uneasily. Shot on super16 film in static compositions, with occasional subtle camera movements, the film lingers on shots, taking its time to observe the movements of people, light, and animals.


100 Asian Movies 2019
Go to Part 1
Go to Part 3 (Soon…)
Go to Part 4 (Soon…)

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