Chinese culture

Chinese Movies: 5 Must-See Oldies but Goodies

For those who believe that Chinese movies are only about Kung-Fu, let me prove you how wrong you are. There’s so much more to Chinese movies than Chinese action movies and fighting. Trust me. Some of these awesome movies are full of love, hate, sorrow and heartbreaking stories that will make you burst into tears like a baby or laugh so hard you’ll tear up! Read on to discover th best 5 Chinese movies to see to stop being a complete 老外!

Many people watch Chinese and Taiwanese dramas, but what about Chinese movies? There are plenty of movies out there to make you appreciate the art of making pictures in China. We went through the most recommended (and searched) Chinese movies and selected 5 classic Chinese oldies but goodies that will make you reconsider Chinese movies. All right, let’s introduce to you a few jewels you’ll love to watch!

TOP 1 Chinese movies: Farewell My Concubine (1993)

What, a movie about old China with concubines in the Forbidden City? Been there, done that, right? Don’t lie, I know that’s what you’re thinking! Well, hold your horses.

Directed by Chen Kaige, Farewell My Concubine is a drama that takes place in the mid 20’s. A prostitute has to abandon her son Dieyi, who had no other choice than training to be an actor in the Beijing Opera. There he meets Xiaolou and they become fast friends. However, the best friends’ fate is about to take a new turn when Xialou gets married to a prostitute and Dieyi gets jealous.

Ha! You must be curious by now; why is the movie called Farewell my Concubine if, there’s no Forbidden City, no Emperors, no concubines to speak of and simply people like us discovering love. Guess how it ends? Well, desperate, Dieyi decides to – wait, go and watch the movie if you want to know! I’m no telling and the movie is well worth the watch.

But the trailer of this movie might help you to find out.


TOP 2 Chinese movies: Devils on the Doorstep (2000)

Directed by Jiang Wen and released in 2000, this Chinese comical movie was awarded the Grand-Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. The scene is set in 1945, when a Chinese village is attacked by Japanese assailants. As you can guess, Devil on the Doorstep is a war movie, but its unique humorous take on the horrors of war make it a Chinese movie must-see and our #2 in our list.

Devil on the Doorstep is just as good as watching an old Hogan’s Heroes episode! Just let yourself go and enjoy this moment of comical craziness and terror.

In case you don’t know Hogan’s Heroes here’s a sneak peek of the funniest moments in the TV show : the best of Hogan’s Heroes. Watch also the trailer of Devils on the Doorstep.

TOP 3 Chinese movies: Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon(2000)

Well, there had to be a Chinese kung-fu movie in this shortlist of awesome Chinese movies! Sorry, not sorry!
Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon is a well-known Chinese action movie directed by An Lee. The action takes place during the Qing Dynasty in the late 1770’s, in Beijing. Jade Fox murders Mu Bai’s fighting master; years later they meet again in strange circumstances and Fox’s apprentice Jen, who also happens to be the Governor Yu’s Daughter, has to marry someone she doesn’t love.

Things are going to happen here between Mu Bai and Jen but we won’t exactly tell you what, of course. Suffice to say this movie is a little like a Chinese fighting version of Romeo and Juliet with many more adventures and secrets.
It’s definitely a must-see Chinese movie! Can you figure out who’s the tiger and who’s the dragon?

And if you liked this movie, well, surpriiise: Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon 2 was released last year! Here’s the trailer for your viewing pleasure!



TOP 4 Chinese movies: Spring in a Small Town (1948)

Doesn’t the title remind you of an American well known movie? It makes me think of Gone with the Wind. Can you feel all the drama out there?

Spring in a Small Town is basically the story of a housewife and her husband, struggling to survive in their everyday life. They both live peacefully in a small town, as you may have guessed from the title. Everything changes, however, the day her husband gets sick. Despite her best efforts to make him feel better, everything the housewife tries fails.

Spring come, (now the title fully makes sense, doesn’t it?) and with it comes a stranger, who arrives in the city by train. It turns this stranger is her husband’s childhood classmate. As luck would have it, he is a doctor in Western medicine. He’s also, however the housewife ex-lover. Trouble, trouble ahead or relief relief for the hubby and the housewife?! Watch to see!

If you’re fond of drama and romantic tangles, this Chinese movie is for you! Watch the trailer.


TOP 5 Chinese movies: Raise of the Red Lantern (1991)

Directed by Zhang Yimou, this movie takes place in the 20’s, in Chen’s family. Chen who has already 3 mistresses decides to take Songlian as his fourth one. Quickly Songlian starts getting all his attention and becomes his favorite one which leads to the other concubines getting very angry and jealous at her. After many misfortunes, with secret pregnancies, affairs and betrayals, can you imagine what Songlian’s fate will be? I’m not telling, hehe~

A beautiful movie to watch, full of adventures to enjoy with the delicate Songlian, especially if you want to know why it is dealing with red lanterns!

And to give you a little taste of how awesome this movie is, you can watch the trailer or Raise of the Red Lantern.


Final Words

With this selection of 5 must-see Chinese movies, you have a great list of movies to binge-watch this weekend! Besides, if you want to improve your Chinese, watching these Chinese classics with subtitles on in Chinese is a good way to mix pleasure and active learning!

Another good thing about watching these movies is that you’ll be totally immersed in Chinese culture, shot and depicted by Chinese people themselves!

Now tell us, have you already seen one of these 5 Chinese movies? And what is your favorite Chinese movie? Did it make the list? Should it have?

We’re all ears.

Pauline and

The Nincha Team

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4 replies on “Chinese Movies: 5 Must-See Oldies but Goodies”

All of Zhang Yimou historical films, ranging from Hero in Qin Dynasty to Flowers of war during the WWII.
Some other nice historical movies with kungfu like Little Big Soldier (Ding Sheng), Red Cliffs (John Woo) about the 3 Kingdoms.
Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow) because it’s crazy and, somehow, giving a good picture of the transition to modern China
More subtle, Wong Kar-wai , with “In the mood for love” and “My blueberry nights”, though, spoken mainly in Cantonese.
And finally, Mulan, because Jacky Chan is dubbing Shang, and as he is a popstar in China, sang the soundtrack 😉

Nice selection! Thanks for adding more awesome Chinese movies to watch to our list 🙂

Great list, especially since Spring in a Small Town has entered the public domain quite a while ago now. Same is true for Havoc in Heaven and Third Sister Liu, the former one being a classy animation about the monkey king, the latter one being a classy movie with lots of traditional folk songs.

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