10 Best Asian Dramas

Tuesday, March 1 by Joshua Wade

The 10 best Asian dramas span more than 50 years and feature films that many consider among the greatest films ever made, such as 1950’s “Rashomon” from acclaimed Asian director Akira Kurosawa, as well as modern classics like 1994’s award-winning drama “Chungking Express.” These films feature impressive cinematography and well crafted stories, and have influenced generations of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

  1. "The Restless" (2006) – A stirring and visually stunning South Korean drama set in a fictional ancient Korea, “The Restless” tells the story of a demon hunter who finds himself in a place between heaven and earth where he reunites with the spirit of his dead love, only to find that she has forgotten him. The film depicts an enchanting view of heaven and features a sweeping soundtrack from award-winning Japanese composer Shiro Sagisu.
  2. "Chungking Express" (1994) – One of the ten best Asian dramas in recent years, this film follows two love stories: one about a young girl named Faye (beautifully portrayed by Chinese actress Faye Wong) who falls for a heartbroken cop, and the other about a second lovelorn cop who falls for an attractive fleeing criminal. The film won a number of Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Picture in 1995.
  3. "The Ramen Girl" (2008) – This charming drama is a fan favorite of late actress Brittany Murphy who plays Abby, a hapless American transplant in modern Japan. The film contains a great deal of Japanese dialogue and centers on Murphy’s character as she attempts to learn the art of making ramen from her troubled sensei, award-winning Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nishida.
  4. "Realm of the Senses" (1976) – This dark and powerful drama is considered one of the most controversial films ever made, as it features unsimulated sex scenes between actors Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda. Set during the 1930’s, the film depicts the true story of Sada Abe who achieved a cult following after murdering and mutilating her lover in 1936.
  5. "Feel" (2006) – A modern drama set in a New York City massage parlor, this drama centers around the lives of the Asian masseuses who works there and consists of English dialogue from the four men who frequent the parlor over the course of an afternoon. This touching drama explores the idea of loneliness and the longing for human interaction and features amazing performance by William Baldwin and Japanese actress Seiko Higuma.
  6. "Tokyo Story" (1953) – The masterpiece of noted Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, this film follows the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children whose lives have become too chaotic to include them. This calm, moving drama is considered one of the greatest films ever made and has influenced a number of directors from Jim Jarmusch to German director Wim Wenders.
  7. "Seven Samurai" (1954) – A classic from acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa, this film is one of the ten best Asian dramas ever produced and is considered one of the most influential films ever made. The story of seven samurai who defend a village of farmers from merciless bandits was Kurosawa’s first samurai film and heavily influenced John Sturges’ 1960 western, “The Magnificent Seven.”
  8. "Raise the Red Lantern" (1991) – One of the ten best Asian dramas in recent years, this aesthetically dazzling drama tells the story of a concubine in 1920’s China. The film features an amazing use of color and imagery that earned cinematographer Zhao Fei an award for Best Cinematography from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association in 1992.
  9. "Spring in a Small Town" (1948) – Considered to be one of the greatest Asian films ever made, “Spring in a Small Town” received little attention after its original release in 1948 due to the Communist revolution in China. Noted for its lack of antagonists, this quiet drama concerns a love triangle between a man, his wife, and her childhood friend after World War II.
  10. "Rashomon" (1950) – One of the ten best Asian dramas ever made, “Rashomon” was an early film by legendary director Akira Kurosawa and tells the story of rape and murder told from the viewpoints of four characters. The film is said to have introduced Yasujiro Ozu to Western audiences and was given an Honorary Academy Award in 1952.
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