100 Best Asian Films from 2022 (Part 5)

Today I finish my list of one hundred Asian feature films from 2022 that you shouldn’t miss.

The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra by Park Syeyoung – Korea | 2022 – 65 minutes | Fiction

Through love, sickness and death, the bed is a constant witness to sadness, anger and despair. But what if such feelings foster the growth of something in our beds? This melancholy creature feature traces the life cycle of a mattress-dwelling fungus that not only thrives on its guests’ negative energies, but snatches their spinal parts to shape its own body. As it moves from a couple’s apartment to the edge of North Korea, we come to pity this being that seems doomed to mirror our modern malaise, even as it outlives our inhospitable times. With electric visuals, twitchy creature effects and quirky synth music that mixes the otherworldly with schmaltz, this genuine oddity will surprise even the most sophisticated genre fan. (SGIFF 2022)


The First girl I loved by Candy Ng, Yeung Chiu-hoi – South Korea | 2021 – 95 minutes | Fiction

Why does Nam take it so badly when Yuet asks her to be her bridesmaid? The answer lies in the past when the two women were young girls, excellent students and, above all, best friends. And in that storm of emotion, confusion and impetuosity we call adolescence Yuet declared herself, triggering a chaste but intense love… (FEFF 2022)


The Fish Tale by Shuichi Okita – Japan | 2022 – 139 minutes | Fiction

Elementary school student Mibou’s daily revolves around his love for fish. He sees, draws, and eats them every day. His father is worried about Mibou, because he seems different from other kids. His mother, in contrast, watches him warmly and supports him. Even after Mibou becomes a high school student, he still only thinks about fish. He is also on good terms with a neighborhood thug and gets attention from people. Soon, Mibou begins to live alone. He meets many different people and somehow gets affection from them. He also takes the only path he can go. (IMDb)


The Funeral by Shen Dan-Guei – Taiwan | 2022 – 103 minutes | Fiction

Chun Hua, who broke with his father and left home for many years, received the news of her grandfather’s death. She had to take her daughter to her grandfather’s funeral. Her father, whom she hadn’t seen for many years, was still cold and even rude. He gave her and her daughter a long face. At night, there seemed to be some terrifying secret hidden in the house. On the first seventh day, the one who returned turned out to be…(LEAFF 2022)


The Hill of Secrets by Lee Ji-eun – Korea | 2022 – 122 minutes | Fiction

Twelve-year-old Myung-eun (MOON Seung-a) is a model student. She is popular, has good grades and is even elected class president. But when she has to introduce her parents at school one day, she is faced with a problem: her parents are not like the parents of the other children. Her mother (JANG Sun) is stingy and works all day. Her father (KANG Gil-woo), on the other hand, works too little and has no ambitions. In order to avoid embarrassment in front of the class and her teacher, she invents a new family that suits her expectations better. However, due to the arrival of a new classmate (JANG Jae-hee) she must reconsider her lies. (KFFF 2022)


The Narrow Road by Lam Sum – Hong Kong | 2022 – 115 minutes | Fiction

Candy is inept when it comes to life skills. She lives in a tiny, windowless room and desperately needs a job to provide for herself and her seven-year old daughter. But the city has just gone into lockdown and the job market is completely dead. By a stroke of luck, Candy finds work with her neighbor Chak, a good man running a small cleaning outfit. The two wander around Hong Kong’s desolate streets, disinfecting one room after another. Will Candy be able to take full advantage of the opportunity she’s been given? – Marcin Krasnowolski


The Novelist’s Film by Hong Sangsoo – Korea | 2022 – 92 minutes | Fiction

You have to remove your blinkers to see Hong Sang-soo’s new film, and also get used to his sometimes blinding black and white. What is there, “in front of your face” to reprise the title of a previous film by the Korean master, as immense and tiny as The Novelist’s Film? A round made of coincidences and reunions that leads a woman writer who no longer writes to meet an actress who no longer acts. The actress is played by Hong Sang-soo’s muse, Kim Min-hee. Like the other characters, she is filmed from a distance. Then suddenly, in extremis, our eyes open wide to flowers, colours, her face, a camera; then suddenly we see: a declaration of love and a film from cinema or, in other words, the same thing. AR (3 Continents 2022)


The Red Herring by Seung-jun Yi – Korea | 2022 – 124 minutes | Documentary

The Red Herring sheds light on the danger of politicized prosecutors by tracking what happened to Cho Kuk, former justice minister who propelled the reform of the prosecutors’ office. (IMDb)

The Sales Girl by Sengedorj Janchivdorj – Mongolia | 2022 – 124 minutes | Fiction

When Namuuna slips on a banana skin and breaks her leg, she is forced to find a temporary replacement for her afternoon job that requires a great deal of discretion. And who better than shy and loner fellow student Saruul can guarantee secrecy? It doesn’t take long to convince Saruul that the money is good and the job is easy, despite being a bit out of the ordinary. In fact, the task consists in tending a Sex Shop and, at the end of the day, going personally to hand over the day’s earnings to Katya, the shop owner, an eccentric middle-aged woman living with a cat in a sophisticated apartment. Gradually, the routine meetings at the end of the shift bring the two women closer. (FICA 2023)


The Sparring Partner by Ho Cheuk-tin – Hong Kong | 2022 – 138 minutes | Fiction

Adapted from a sensational real-life case in 2013, the intricate story begins when a young man partners with his friend to murder and dismember his parents. Pleading not guilty, the defense attorneys soon turn on each other, as the defendants play the devil and idiot game. Meanwhile, heated debates emerge inside the jury room, where nine jurors grapple with the truth. Crafting a complex, multi-layered narrative with surprising twists and turns, Ho Cheuk-tin sets himself a formidable challenge in this directorial debut. (TGHFF 2022)


The Woman in the White Car by Christine Ko – Korea | 2022 – 125 minutes

A woman arrives at Seolwon hospital by car with her sister stabbed and unconscious. From the shocking accident, she can’t even speak properly. Police officer Hyun-ju (Lee Jung-eun) arrives at the hospital and recalls herself while watching Do-kyung (Jung Ryeo-won), who refuses to be treated to take care of her sister. Hyun-ju, who does the given tasks indifferently like a machine, investigates the case actively out of compassion for Do-kyung. However, the case becomes a mystery when it is revealed that the woman in the hospital is not Do-kyung’s real sister, and the actual sister was a nurse who worked at the hospital in the past, and the person who will be Do-kyung’s brother-in-law was also on the scene. The Woman in the White Car is a thriller full of twists and turns showing the psychology of the women understanding each other while entangled with the case, as well as satisfying the basic expectations of the genre. (IM Soo-yeon | BIFAN 2022)


Time of Seeds by Seol Suan – South Korea | 2022 – Documentary

Two farmers, Yoon Gyun-sang and Jang Gwi-deok, have been receiving and planting their own seeds for decades. Farming changed their body and they have continued to work for several decades with the changed body as a matter of course. With the changes in their surroundings, however, their labor became special. There are people who are looking for the seeds that their special labor have been keeping. They may bring back to us the time that we took for granted, the precious time of seeds that constantly changes but lasts.​ (DMZ Docs 2022)

To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self by Mabel Cheung – Hong Kong | 2022 – 136 minutes | Documentary

Sparked by the demolition and reconstruction of its century-old campus, Ying Wa Girls’ School embarks on a project to chronicle the transformation of its students through the camera of director Mabel Cheung, its distinguished alumna. Following a group of young students since 2011, the documentary captures the trials and tribulations that go with the most turbulent decade in Hong Kong’s history. (TGHFF 2022)


Two Friends by Prasun Chatterjee – India | 2021 – 111 minutes | Fiction

Dostojee, set in the aftermath of the the Babri Masjid demolition and the Bombay bombings, tells the story of a friendship between two boys who belong to conflicting religious communities. The boys, Safikul, the son of a Muslim weaver, and Palash, the son of a Hindu Brahmin,  live in a remote village in West Bengal near the India-Bangladesh border. Their friendship is suffused with a beautiful innocence that belies the harsh realities that fate has in store for them. (DIFF 2022)


Untold Herstory by Zero Chou – Taiwan | 2022 – 112 minutes | Fiction

Yu Hsing-hui, an innocent student, is inexplicably sentenced as a thought criminal and sent to Green Island for rehabilitation. She sustains the bullying from the officers and there are other prisoners helping her survive. At the same time, the Department launches a movement, which causes a rebellion. Just when the prisoners think the resistance is successful, an even more forceful purge befalls them… (TGHFF 2022)


Walk Up by Hong Sang-soo – South Korea | 2022 – 97 minutes | Fiction

Successful middle-aged filmmaker Byungsoo (Kwon Haehyo) drops by to visit an old friend, Mrs. Kim (Lee Hyeyoung), the owner of a charming apartment building, only to find his life taking a series of unexpected turns. Hong Sangsoo uses a delicately radical structure in his latest exploration of the complexities of relationships, growing older, and artistic pursuit. (NYFF2022)


Wandering by Lee Sang II – Japan | 2021 – 150 minutes | Fiction

In a park on a rainy evening, a 19-year-old university student, Fumi, offers an umbrella to a soaking wet 10-year-old girl, Sarasa. Realizing her reluctance to go home, Fumi lets her stay at his place, where she spends the next two months in peace. They take each other’s hands and seem to have finally found their place in the world until Fumi is arrested for kidnapping. Fifteen years later, they are reunited but still suffering from the stigma as the victim and perpetrator of “a pedophile case”. Will society give a place to the unshakable bond they have formed? (Kaohsiung 2022)


We Don’t Dance for Nothing by Stefanos Tai – Philippines | 2022 – 86 minutes

A young Filipino domestic worker, H, and her friends in Hong Kong take to the streets every Sunday on their day off to chat—and dance—as a liberatory gesture, no matter how temporary. H dreams of moving to another country in order to escape her life as a domestic worker, but torn between her attachment to her employer’s children and her desire to be free, she struggles with the decision to leave. (SGIFF 2022)


When the Waves are Gone by Lav Diaz – Philippines, France, Portugal, Denmark | 2022 – 188 minutes | Fiction

Lieutenant Hermes Papauran, one of the best investigators in the Philippines, finds himself in a deep moral dilemma: he witnesses the responsibility of the police force in the deadly anti-drug campaign, led by the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte. Right after his election as the Philippines’ president in 2016, he launches his so-called “war against drugs”, shocking the world by the brutality and the human rights’ violations that ensue from it. The unlawful extrajudicial killings imputed to drug have become endemic and most of the murders are police-related. These atrocities are corroding Lieutenant Papauran both physically and spiritually. He suffers from a severe psoriasis, a skin disease resulting from insidious anxiety. (FICA 2023)


Withstanding and Existing by Gwon Churl – Korea | 2022 – 63 minuites | Documentary

Cinema Gwangju is the first theater in the Honam region established by Joseon people in 1933. It is a single-screen cinema that opened in 1935, keeping its place and screening films up to this day. Choi Gonne invited seven musician groups to share “Gwangju-ness” in her own perspective, and they visited Cinema Gwangju to speak and sing about their own “Withstanding and Existing.” The movie also contains a story of a painter Park Taegyu, who continuously worked on hand-painted posters of Cinema Gwangju from the 1990s until today. (SIFF 2022)


To see Part 1 please go HERE
To see Part 2 please go HERE
To see Part 3 please go HERE
To see Part 4 please go HERE

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