Asian movies are full of stunning moments, that either make you jump, creep you out, fall off the sofa laughing or get your heart pumping. Off the top of my head (and this isn’t in any way a definitive list so don’t get mad if I didn’t include your favourite, here are some moments from Asian movies that I cherish.
Suicide Circle: Not the most cheerful movie around, but this Japanese view of the isolation and disconnectedness of modern life is compulsive viewing – especially when the detective’s wife calmly starts cutting her fingers off while she is preparing dinner. She doesn’t even notice she is doing it, and it chills you to the bone – just like the knife cuts.
Yojimbo: In the opening credits of Kurasawa’s classic movie the Ronin (masterless samurai) played by Toshiro Mifune is wandering through a cold windy landscape toward a ridge of snowcapped mountains. This man sleeps rough -sometimes a bed, sometimes a pile of hay, but always in the company of fleas. You can tell because he’s shrugging his shoulders, trying to scratch an itch, and chasing fleas through his hair. This was the first time I saw Mifune and I knew I was watching a real actor. Always loved this moment. After that it just gets brilliant.
A Moment to Remember: This movie is the master tear jerker of all time. Yet it also has scenes that bring tears of laughter. After his offer to give the gorgeous Su-Jin I (Son Ye-Jin) a lift home in his weird little work truck is rejected, Chul is sitting in the truck when he sees a motorcyclist snatch her handbag and ride off with it. Watching the rider approach in the mirror, Chul simply opens the truck door. What happens next is one of the funniest moments in any movie ever made. No one does those rib tickling deadpan moments like Jung Woo Sung.
Ringu: That first moment when you see Sadako crawl out of the TV and across the floor, dragging herself along on ragged nails, is one of the most awesome scares of all time. Of course it became all too familiar eventually, and one year we had a stuffed doll of Sadako crawling out of our TV in a white dress and long black wig for Halloween. But she’s still got it.
Memories of Murder: Song Kang Ho is not just one of South Korea’s funniest men, he is also one of that country’s finest actors. He is one of the few with the chops to pull off the final chilling scene in this movie, when he looks out at the audience and you realise the killer is still free – that he could be sitting right in front of you, or behind you – or he might even be you.
Battle Royale: This Japanese movie is full of moments that make you want to jump under the sofa, with its graphic scenes of murder and mayhem – and there is Tatsuya Fujiwara to rest the eyes on between blood spatters, even though he is spattered with blood too. But in all this horror, but there is one bizarre comic gem of a performance that I can never forget. That girl in the rules video. She’s priceless.
Of course now I’ve posted this I’ll think of a million more, but if these are the first that came to mind they must have made a big impression right?