13 Best Asian Movies Everyone Should Watch, According to Reddit

Since Bong Joon-ho‘s Parasite won best picture, a historical moment that mostly encouraged English-speaking moviegoers to cherish the wonders that come with getting past the fear of subtitles, Asian cinema (that is, cinema from the regions of East, South, and Southeast Asia) have exploded in global popularity. While Asian films tackle the same universal themes, including love, death, life, and poverty, they often deliver incredibly thought-provoking and somewhat sadder endings reflecting the real world.

Fortunately, throughout the years, Asian movies have expanded and called forth interest in moviegoers from diverse countries, which deservingly led Asian cinema to become more talked-about and praised. To celebrate it, we have gathered some of Reddit’s favorite, essential picks for those looking into getting into these intriguing non-English movies.

Updated on April 30, 2023, by Daniela Gama:

With the upcoming 64th anniversary of the famous Indian feature film The World of Apu, the third part of a deeply captivating and stunningly shot trilogy that still holds up today, on the 1st of May, viewers may be left wondering what other Asian gems are waiting to be discovered and cherished. While some of the movies below are relatively recent (including, of course, Bong Joon-ho’s Best Picture winner), a few classics (Late Spring) surely deserve the same amount of love. These are the top Asian movies on Reddit.

13 ‘The Chaser’ (2008) — South Korea

Ha Jung-woo holding an umbrella in 'The Chaser'
Image via Showbox

The Chaser is a universally treasured piece of Asian cinema. Directed by Na Hong-jin, this engaging film follows an ex-policeman, Joong-ho (Kim Yoon-seok), who runs a small ring of sex workers. After some of his girls disappear without clearing their debts, Joong-ho attempts to track them down.

In response to a very valid list a user put together when asked about good Asian films, NoStaticAtAll couldn’t help highlighting the disturbing South Korean Hong-jin movie: “These are all solid choices, but I especially recommend The Chaser. One of the best suspense movies I’ve ever seen.”

Watch on Tubi

12 ‘I Saw the Devil’ (2010) — South Korea

Choi Min-sik in 'I Saw the Devil'
Image via Showbox

After his pregnant fiancée is brutally murdered, NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) embarks on a quest for dreadful revenge that’ll make the killer suffer as much as his wife did in a series of captures and releases. This Jee-Woon Kim movie is undoubtedly an unsettling and unforgettable foreign horror flick.

Often recommended to those who also enjoyed The Chaser — as Dizz25 remarks, “Chaser is an unbelievable serial killer action movie, a lot like Se7en. If you like that you’ll also probably like I Saw the Devil” — I Saw the Devil is equally worth the watch, especially for those who are into action thrillers.

Watch on Prime Video

11 ‘Chungking Express’ (1994) — Hong Kong

Faye Wong looking through a window in 'Chungking Express'
Image via Ocean Shores Video

This famous Hong Kong drama follows two different stories of police officers who fall deeply in love with two intriguing women. While one is enamored by a female underworld figure, the other is enchanted by a beautiful waitress at a late-night restaurant he often frequents.

Chungking Express is a wonderfully made film that depicts the feeling of being completely lovestruck, and it does that just perfectly. With loads of stunning visuals, this feel-good romance film beams with lively, youthful energy and an extremely photogenic cast. The film Reddit user junhogay has recommended “Chungking Express” in their post.

Watch on HBO Max

10 ‘Late Spring’ (1949) — Japan

Two women sitting, one on a chair and one on the floor
Image via Shochiku

Easily one of the best Asian movies from the ’40s, Late Spring centers on 27-year-old Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who loves to take care of her now-widowed father (Chishû Ryû) and plans to do so for the rest of her life. Despite this fact, numerous people attempt to persuade her to get married.

A beautifully shot familial drama, Yasujirô Ozu‘s movie reflects on marriage (a recurrent theme for Japanese movies in the late 1940s) and the marital pressure that was/is put on young women. “Don’t think it’ll be supplanted by any other film any time soon unless another Ozu blows me away,” rzrike said.

Watch on HBO Max

9 ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (2012) — India

'Gangs of Wasseypur'
Image via Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

A film from India that is worth your attention is Anurag Kashyap‘s Gangs of Wasseypur. Drawing its story from the real-life gang wars that took place in the region of Dhanbad, Jharkhand, this thrilling crime drama centers on the coal mafia of Dhanbad and its underlying power struggles.

This movie is perhaps one of India’s most well-known features. As suggested by a now-deleted account on Reddit, “this one is an absolute must-watch, directed by Anurag Kashyap, deals with the coal mafia and the bloody feud between two rival factions that stretches across [three] generations.”

Watch on Mubi

8 ‘Yi Yi’ (2000) — Taiwan

Jonathan Chang holding a camera in 'Yi Yi'
Image via WinStar Cinema

Always mentioned in any discussion about the best Asian films, this touching and heartwarming Taiwanese drama movie by Edward Yang centers around the life of the Jian family, as seen through the eyes of three different family members: the father, N.J (Nien-Jen Wu), teenage daughter, Ting-Ting (Elaine Jin), and youngest son, Yang-Yang (Issei Ogata). They all question life’s meaning as they live through everyday life and try to make the most of it.

As for how much Reddit loves it? “Pretty much everything I love about cinema wrapped in one movie,” says oh_orpheus after declaring that Yi Yi is their favorite Asian movie of all time. Surely, there is no getting around these facts.

Watch on The Criterion Channel

7 ‘The World of Apu’ (1959) — India

Soumitra Chatterjee in 'The World of Apu'
Image via Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

This Satyajit Ray film focuses on Apu (Soumitra Chatterjee), a 23-year-old idealist and struggling orphaned adult who aspires to be a writer as he navigates through his many struggles in life. The World of Apu is the third film of the Apu Trilogy, a wonderful Indian coming-of-age trilogy that introduced India into the golden age of international arthouse film.

“Since no else has said it yet, definitely the Apu trilogy from India. I believe the entire trilogy is in the Criterion Collection. Great Asian cinema definitely starts with director Satyajit Ray,” SharksFan4Lifee suggests. There is no doubt that the 1959 movie is a treat even today.

Watch on HBO Max

6 ‘High and Low’ (1963) — Japan

Kenjirô Ishiyama, Takeshi Katô, and Tatsuya Nakadai hiding under a table in High and Low
Image via Shochiku

In the renowned crime drama feature High and Low directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa, viewers are introduced to Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune), a successful executive in control of a business called National Shoes. In the meantime, he believes his son is abducted and held for ransom, which turns him into a victim of extortion.

On the platform, a now-deleted Reddit account can’t help gushing over the 1963 classic: “It’s a perfect movie with a perfect story and ending, such a brilliant movie on so many levels.” Demonofthewindycity adds that “there’s a real elegance” to the filmmaker’s contemporary work, highlighting that “High and Low is a shining example of that.”

5 ‘In the Mood for Love’ (2000) — Hong Kong

Maggie Cheung and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung in 'In the Mood For Love' (2000)
Image via Universal Pictures

Wong Kar-wai‘s flawless film In the Mood for Love is a subtle drama that explores loneliness, lust, and intermarital relationships without ever pointing fingers. Set in Hong Kong in 1962, this hypnotizing flick depicts an unexpected romantic spark between a man (Tony Leung) and a woman (Maggie Cheung) ​​​​​​after both find out that their respective partners are cheating on them.

As told by a now-deleted Redditor on the platform, where the film was mentioned a lot when users were asked other cinephiles about essential Asian films, In the Mood for Love is the “most critically acclaimed film of the century so far.” There are, in fact, many great things about Kar-wai’s piece — two of them are how beautifully shot it is and how well it captures the feelings of loss and intimacy.

Watch on HBO Max

4 ‘Oldboy’ (2003) — South Korea

Yoo Ji-tae with a gun pointed at his head in 'Oldboy'
Image via FilmDistrict

South Korea’s revenge hit Oldboy is also a very much looked upon film nowadays, and it centers around Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik), a father with alcoholism who has been kidnaped on a rainy night in 1988. After being held hostage for 15 years in a strange, windowless hotel room with no contact with the outside world, Dae-Su is unexpectedly set free only to discover that his wife has been murdered and he has been framed as a prime suspect.

On Reddit, static_silence agrees that the Park Chan-wook film is a great piece of Asian cinema: “Fantastic writing and acting,” they said, to which another user replied, “The rest of the vengeance trilogy is interesting, too, but Oldboy is definitely the crown jewel…” On another post, when asked for some good Asian films, Trottchacha remarks, “Oldboy. Don’t look it up, just watch it. The Korean version.”

3 ‘Parasite’ (2019) — South Korea

Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Song Kang-ho and Jang Hye-jin sitting on the floor in Parasite
Image via CJ Entertainment

Following a low-income family who comes up with a very elaborate, meticulous plan to become employed by a wealthy family and infiltrate their household, this groundbreaking South Korean 2019 social commentary is one for the books. Apart from being the first non-English film to win Best Picture (and very much deservingly so), it has also reached tremendous worldwide popularity, becoming the first “foreign” film to hit two million views on the movie platform Letterboxd.

Parasite is an internationally beloved movie, and its accolades are well-earned. Many users on Reddit agree that this intriguing film is an essential watch for anyone who plans to get into Asian cinema, and proof of that it’s how heavily mentioned Bong Joon-Ho’s masterpiece is on the platform. In mhowes666‘s list, the title “Parasite” can be seen taking first place.

Watch on HBO Max

2 ‘Memories of Murder’ (2003) — South Korea

Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang Kyung looking at the camera in Memories of Murder
Image via CJ Entertainment

Loosely based on the real-life story of Korea’s first confirmed serial murders, crime thriller Memories of Murder is yet another great Bong Joon-ho film starring Parasite‘s Song Kang-ho and following two detectives who strive to solve the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown offender.

Memories Of Murder is awesome. The acting, the atmosphere. It’s also a really intelligent, layered film with the characters being allegories for political aspects of S.Korea at the time, if you care about that sort of thing,” Dizz25 explains to other Redditors.

1 ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954) — Japan

Toshirô Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Yoshio Inaba, Daisuke Katô, Isao Kimura, Seiji Miyaguchi, and Takashi Shimura ready to fight in 'Seven Samurai'
Image via Toho

Set in 1586, this original Western and the second feature by Akira Kurosawa in this list centers on the rōnin (masterless samurai), who are hired to fight off the bandits who return to a village of desperate farmers after the harvest to plunder their crops.

Seven Samurai,” as mentioned by barrbarian84 and many other users on the platform, is, of course, a highly recommended essential. Part of its popularity is related to its massive international influence, which can be clearly seen in the Western The Magnificent Seven. It also introduced groundbreaking cinematographic techniques that are still used today, and popularized the “assemble the team” trope that has become a huge part of modern filmmaking.

Watch on HBO Max

NEXT: The Best Samurai Movies of the 21st Century (So Far)

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