100 Best Asian Films from 2022 (Part 2)

I present the second part of my list of one hundred Asian feature films from 2022 that you shouldn’t miss.

Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak – Indonesia, France, Germany, Poland, Singapore, Philippines, Qatar | 2022 – 116 Minutes | Fiction

With his father in prison and his brother abroad for work, young Rakib works as the lone housekeeper in an empty mansion belonging to Purna, a retired general. After Purna returns home to start his mayoral election campaign, Rakib bonds with the older man. When Purna’s election poster is found vandalised, Rakib doesn’t hesitate to track down the culprit, kicking off an escalating chain of violence… (TGHFF 2022)


Baby Queen by Lei Yuan Bin – Singapore | 2022 – 61 minutes | Fiction

With her striking Teochew opera-inspired makeup, Opera Tang has been making waves on the local drag scene since her debut in 2020. Through intimate vignettes of Opera’s personal life, the film chronicles her queer journey: from coming-out as a fledgling drag queen, falling in love, competing in drag pageants, to dressing up her supportive and charming 90-year-old grandma in drag. (SGIFF 2022)


Bad Axe by David Siev – USA | 2022 – 100 minutes | Documentary

After leaving NYC for his rural hometown of Bad Axe, MI at the start of the pandemic, an Asian American filmmaker documents his family’s struggles to keep their restaurant open. As fears of the virus grow, deep generational scars dating back to the Cambodian Killing Fields unearth between the family’s patriarch, Chun, and his daughter, Jaclyn. When the BLM movement takes center stage in America, the family uses their voice to speak out in their town where Trumpism runs deep. What unfolds is a real-time portrait of 2020 through the lens of this multicultural family’s fight to keep their American dream alive in the face of a pandemic, Neo-Nazis, and the trauma of having survived a genocide. (HIFF 2022)


Before, Now & Then by Kamila Andini – Indonesia | 2022 – 103 minutes | Fiction

Following hot on the heels of her critical hit Yuni, writer-director Andini delivers this stately period drama, adapted from Ahda Imran’s novel Jais Darga Namaku. Set in 1960s Indonesia, a country ravaged by anti-communist genocide, Nana pines for her first husband, consumed by the conflict, even after building a comfortable new life with a wealthy older man. A prisoner to the patriarchy, Nana remains helpless to choose her own path, until she discovers friendship and inspiration in the most unlikely of places. (HKIFF 2022)


Big Sleep by Kim Tae-hoon – Korea | 2022 – 112 minutes | Fiction

On a winter morning on the way to work, Kiyoung finds Gilho sleeping on the wooden bench in front of his house. Gilho is a teenager who has run away from home because he can no longer face the domestic violence he suffers there. Kiyoung, who seems tough but has a tender heart, lets Gilho stay in his house for a few days and Gilho comes to trust Kiyoung. It seems that Kiyoung must have recognized his own dark past in Gilho. However, as Gilho′s friends visit, conflicts happen between Kiyoung and Gilho. Big Sleep is a film for grown-ups: It is about characters who seek salvation and healing in daily life. This story of a loser taking care of someone weaker than he is both touching and compelling. The two leading actors delicately pull off the high and low levels of emotions thoughtfully designed by the director. Big Sleep desperately grabs the drama of care and new life. (JUNG Hanseok)


Blue Island by Chan Tze-woon – Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan | 2022 – 97 minutes | Documentary

An elegiac corollary to the fiery documentaries that captured Hong Kong’s recent protest movement and ensuing crackdown, this Hot Docs winner looks at the state of the region in the wake of the 2020 national security law; a time when many pro-democracy protestors have either fled into exile or are sitting in custody. These bitter, hard years are compared to a longer history of Hong Kong as a site of refuge from mainland Chinese authority, particularly for those who fled the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square. Mixing documentary footage and fictional recreations of the student protestors, Director Chan Tze-Woon grapples honestly with the fact that, despite valiant efforts, Hong Kong as we once knew it is no more.


Broker by Kore-eda Hirokazu – Korea | 2022 – 129 minutes | Fiction

Sang-hyeon and his friend Dong-soo run an illegal business together: they steal babies from the church’s baby box and sell the babies on the adoption black market. One night, a baby is left at the baby box facility and they secretly take it home but the young mother unexpectedly returns, and discovers the baby thiefs. This group of people, brought together by a baby box, set off on a journey that will lead to unexpected destinations, with police on their trail. (Antalya 2022)


Children of The Mist by Ha Le Diem – Vietnam | 2021 – 90 minutes | Documentary

Di is a 13-year-old Homong girl living in a village lost in the mist of North Vietnamese mountains. Despite being the first generation to receive education, she cannot escape from the custom still remains in her tribe: the bride kid-napping. The film follows Di who is eventually kidnapped by a boy her age and captures the moment when a beautiful and precarious childhood disappears with the tension between traditional and modern ways of life.​ (DMZ Docs 2022)


Dark Red Forest by Huaqing Jin – China | 2021 – 85 minutes | Documentary

DARK RED FOREST is an exploration of the mysterious daily life of women devoted to their faith. 20.000 Buddhist nuns live in a monastery on a snowy plateau in Tibet, China. Surrounded by harsh nature and secluded from the outside world, these women offer us a glimpse into their religious exploration of life’s biggest questions. Far away from their families, the nuns commit everything to reach a divine state, entrusting themselves to the guru and each other. (AutlookFilms)


December by Anshul Chauhan – Japan | 2022 – 99 minutes | Fiction

Seven years ago, a high school student was killed by a friend. The parents of the dead girl are now divorced, and the father drowns his anger and sorrow in alcohol. Then one day, the daughter’s murderer files a suit to have her sentence reduced. The father convinces his ex-wife that their daughter’s murderer should not be freed, and the two confront the murderer in court. December is a story about a family that falls apart after the death of a daughter, and then, in times of crisis, comes back together. As the parents confront the murderer and hear her out, the film shows us these same characters moving toward forgiveness and redemption. Director Anshul Chauhan once again raises a serious question about redemption, following his previous film Kontora (2019). Shogen, the star of Gensan Punch which won the Kim Jiseok Award in 2021, gives an impressive performance as the father. (NAM Dong-chul)


Decision to Leave by Park Chan-wook – Korea | 2022 – 138 minutes | Fiction

Haejun is a detective, investigating the death of a man who fell from the top of a mountain. He encounters Seorae, the wife of the dead man and notices that she appears quite detached despite the distressing news. The police find it unusual and grow more suspicious of her. As the questioning starts, Haejun slowly finds himself drawn to the mysterious widow. (JIMFF 2022)


Delikado by Karl Malakunas – US, Philippines, UK, Australia, Hong Kong | 2022 – 94 minutes | Documentary

Palawan is famous for its wide sandy beaches and dense forests. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, a treasure trove of ecology, and the home of several indigenous groups. As developers and illegal loggers who have colluded with the Duterte regime take control, however, three environmental crusaders start a battle to stop it. (DMZ Docs 2022)


DEMIGOD: The Legend Begins by Chris Huang – Taiwan | 2022 – 103 minutes | Fiction

Youthful polymath Su Huan-jen is a martial artist, a doctor and an unpredictable headache for his master Eight-toed Qilin. In going against his master’s advice, Su Huan-jen unwittingly sets off a lethal power struggle between the Five Mountains. Ensnared in a conspiracy that even his master cannot escape from, it is up to Su Huan-jen to turn back the tide and stop the evil mastermind before it is too late… (TGHFF 2022)


Discrimination by Kim Ji-woon, Kim Do-hee – Korea | 2021 – 84 minutes | Documentary

Japan’s policy of free high school implemented in 2013. However, only 10 Korean high schools are excluded from this policy. The reason is that there is a suspicion that the free subsidies will be misappropriated by the Chongryon(General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) and others.  Five Korean high schools that protested this claim a compensation suit against the state in 2013. After four years of hearing, the first trial will be decided, starting with Hiroshima  Korean high school on July 19, 2017. Discrimination’ is the story of a two-year lawsuit process from the first trial ruling in the Osaka Korean high school lawsuit in July 2017 to a high school free lawsuit at Kyushu Korean high school in April 2019, and the struggle of Korean-Japanese,  Korean school students, and lawyers who have been guarding Korean School for more than 70 years. (SICFF 2022)


Divine Factory by Joseph Mangat – Philippines, USA, Taiwan | 2022 – 120 minutes | Documentary

In a labyrinthine factory in Metro Manila, workers are crammed together, inhaling toxic fumes with minimal protective gear, to make Catholic figurines for the huge religion market in the country. For some of these queer workers, life in the factory provides respite from an even harsher reality outside of it: addiction, violence and poverty. (SGIFF 2022)


Everything Will Be Ok by Rithy Panh – Cambodia | 2022 – 98 minutes |

“If animals were in power, would they base  their behavior on humans? Would they practice excessive, unfettered consumption to the point of destroying their environment? Would they adopt human flaws? Would they have the same thirst for power;the same cruelty?
Would they choose to govern through demagoguery, terror, or totalitarianism? What would images mean? Art and cinema,or surveillance and questionable doings?Would they get along with the “ancients”- meaning the humans, or would theyenslave them?
Would they have the desire and strength to resist evil tendencies and inclinations? Would they have empathy for their fellow creatures and all the living beings with whom they share the planet?” (DMZ Docs 2022)


Fast & Feel Love by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit – Thailand | 2022 – 132 minutes | Fiction

Kao is the world’s fastest sport-stacking champion who is constantly being challenged. In the midst of this, Kao’s long-time girlfriend, who has taken care of him and everything else in his life, decides to end their relationship. While Kao must keep up with up-and-coming stacking challengers, he also needs to learn the basic daily life skills. Yet, the most difficult task of all for him is figuring out how to win back his girlfriend. (TGHFF 2022)


Free Chol Soo Lee by Julie Ha, Eugene Yi – Korea, USA | 2022 – 86 minutes | Documentary

In 1973, Chol Soo Lee was arrested as a suspect in a murder case in San Francisco’s Chinatown and sentenced to life in prison. It was the result of false testimonies by white witnesses who had difficulty telling Asian faces apart and the neglect of the investigators. When a Korean-American journalist who became skeptical about the case writes an article that raises questions about the investigation, a large-scale protest ensues, calling for the release of the innocent young immigrant. Free Chol Soo Lee is a documentary that presents in detail the life of Chol Soo Lee, who became a symbol of the Asian Civil Rights Movement, through various archive footage and interviews. Shedding light on the impact of the relief efforts of numerous people on Chol Soo Lee and the shadow that a decade of imprisonment cast on his life, this film makes Lee’s life palpable. (HONG Eunmi)


Gaga by Laha Mebow – Taiwan | 2022 – 111 minutes | Fiction

The Hayung family inhabit the highlands of Taiwan along with other indigenous Atayal people. Held in high esteem by the community, they make a steady living from agriculture and tourism, while the men sometimes have too much to drink. Even when their days are met by ruptures like an elder’s death or land surveys, their faiths—a syncretic mix of their Gaga belief system and Christianity—appear to prevail. (SGIFF 2022)


Glorious Ashes by Bui Thac Chuyen – Vietnam, France, Singapore | 2022 – 117 minutes | Fiction

Based on a novel by internationally-known Nguyen Ngoc Tu, the film unveils relationships between three women and their partners in a southern seaside village. Bui Thac Chuyen from Adrift is the director. (TIFF 2022)


To see Part 1 please go HERE
To see Part 3 please go HERE
To see Part 4 please go HERE
To see Part 5 please go HERE

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