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The Golden Rock Top 25 Panasian Films of the Decade - Part 3

Finally, we wrap up my favorite 25 Panasian Films of the Decade..

Here are what happened in the last two parts, in case you’re just tuning in:

Part 1
Part 2

Today, it’ll be the pivotal Top 10, and the special awards.

But, for the last time, the disclaimer: I watch a lot of films, but like anyone who doesn’t get to travel to film festivals worldwide or have that much time to watch every Asian film existed, I missed out on a lot of stuff. I also have my own biases. I don’t care for Achitpatong, Kim Ki-Duk, or Hong Sang-Soo, which means those art films one might’ve seen on those best of the decade list by western organizations will be missing here. Mainly, they’re not because I really don’t like them - I just couldn’t find the time to watch them.

Hence, this list is totally interactive. This means you’re welcome to offer your own list or even talk about my picks. But I can say it’s unlikely to find a definitive top 10 list out there, since 1) Everyone has different tastes, and 2) there were so many films that I had to expand my list to 25.

So now, on to the top 10:

10. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) - Japan - Directed by Makoto Shinkai

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If anyone is looking for Wong Kar-Wai on animation, this is it. Split into three parts for a barely feature-length anthology of thinly connected segments, this is a story about isolation and loneliness that would’ve worked just as well in live-action, but the wintery landscape of Tokyo and summer seaside Kagoshima look even more beautiful through Shinkai’s eyes.

9. Secret Sunshine (2007) - Korea - Directed by Lee Chang-Dong

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A lot of my love for this film is due to the lead performance. However, writer-director Lee Chang-Dong also deserves a lot of credit for the unflinching portrayal of such raw emotions and providing a thought-provoking look at the meaning of religion in people’s lives. Of course, Jeon Do-Yeon does do all the work in her award-winning performance as the film’s central character.

8. Love Exposure (2008) - Japan - Directed by Sion Sono - LoveHKFilm review

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Anyone who makes a 4-hour film and pulls it off as well as Sion Sono did here deserves a place on this list. Filled with upskirt photos, religious satire, evil cults, and crossdressing, Love Exposure is definitely a cinematic achievement, despite its technical and storytelling flaws. It’s also a grand example of a film that needed to be put on a leash, but when it’s this fun to watch, it’s perfectly fine to let it loose a little longer.

7. Oldboy (2003) - Korea - Directed by Park Chan-Wook - LoveHKFilm review

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Park Chan-Wook hit his filmmaking peak with the middle film of his Revenge trilogy, a poetically violent film that explores the motives and meaning of revenge. Propelled by Park’s unique visual style and an intense performance by Choi Min-Sik, Oldboy elevated the visual asethetics of the New Korean Cinema to a whole new level.

6. Blood and Bones (2004) - Japan - Directed by Yoichi Sai 

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The placement of Blood and Bones this high on the list is, like Secret Sunshine, mostly attributed to its monster of a main character played convincingly by Takeshi Kitano. Filmed without one bit of sentimentality by Yoichi Sai, this is family melodrama with a real nasty edge. As brutal as it is, Kitano’s performance is like a magnet on the audience, repelling them while forcing them to watch at the same time.

5. All Around Us (2008) - Japan - Directed by Ryusuke Hashiguchi 0 LoveHKFilm review

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Ryusuke Hashiguchi’s portrait of a decade in the life of a married couple is unassumingly brilliant in its subtlety. Filled with quietly powerful moments, smart visual storytelling, and an award-winning performance by Tae Kimura, this is a film that has stuck with me ever since I first watched it without subtitles in a Japanese theater.

4. Memories of Murder (2003) - Korea - Directed by Bong Joon-Ho - LoveHKFilm review

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Out of the Korean New Wave filmmakers, Bong Joon-Ho has proven himself to be one of the most versatitle and talented around. His police procedural/social commentary drama, based on a real series of murders in a Korean small town in the 80s, remains just as powerful and compelling now as it did when it first came out earlier in the decade.

3. Nobody Knows (2004) - Japan - Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

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My friends living in Tokyo tell me that the city is like the New York of Japan, filled with uncaring unbanites that would ignore any tourist that seems to be in trouble, and Kore-eda’ unflinching portrait of that society is heartbreaking and powerful, but never exploitative. Working with his child actors during the three-year shoot, Kore-eda has crafted a masterpiece that is more than the minimalist arthouse style many of his contemporaries have tried to imitate.

2. Spirited Away (2001) - Japan - Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

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I’m not a fan of anime, which makes picking this Hayao Miyazaki film so high up a rather strange choice for those who know my taste. Actually, that makes this all the more impressive, especially in Miyazaki’s ability to transport his character (and the audience) into a wonderfully-realized world of dragon spirits, masked phantoms, and hopping lamps. Truly a wonderful adventure for this generation and the generations to come

1. Yi Yi - A One and a Two (2000) - Taiwan - Directed by Edward Yang 

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This three-hour minimalist urban epic by Edward Yang is poignant, touching, sublime, sometimes funny, and flat-out brlliant. This is as close as possible to a perfect film, and I cannot think of a better candidate for the top Panasian film of the decade.

Aside from the films that have been mentioned, there are also special prizes for films outside the list or filmmakers that deserve special shout-outs:

Game-Changer of the Decade: Cape No. 7

It’s not a great film, but any film credited for resuscitating an entire film industry and beat the record for the highest-grossing local film by a mile is a pretty damn important one.

Best blockbuster: Bayside Shakedown 2 

A sequel that is even more ambitious than its predecessor in terms of both budget and storytelling, the second screen version of the successful TV show is smart fun masterfully directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro. It doesn’t work on its own because of all the recurring characters and running jokes, but it’s much, much better than it deserves to be. Bring on Bayside Shakedown 3.

Style-Over-Substance Award: Kim Jee-Woon

Kim is a director that has transcended every genre he has dipped in. While his stories don’t have the impact of contemporaries like Park Chan-Wook or Bong Joon-Ho, Kim’s directorial skill is certainly at the same level.

Most Likely Heir to Studio Ghibli: Mamoru Hosada and Madhouse

The Girl That Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars were fun crowdpleasers that also had great storytelling and memorable characters. They may not have the same storytelling sensiability as Miyazaki and Ghibli, but they may very well be the next big thing, and deservedly so.

Best Director: Bong Joon-Ho

Bong made his first feature film - Barking Dogs Never Bite - in 2000, and with just three films after that, he has solidified his place as one of the best Panasian directors working today. With every work, he elevates himself to a new level, and it’s hard to imagine him getting any better in the next decade. Then again, he’s Bong Joon-Ho, so who knows?

Just to recap, Here’s the complete list:

1) Yi Yi
2) Spirited Away
3) Nobody Knows
4) Memories of Murder
5) All Around Us
6) Blood and Bones
7) Oldboy
8 ) Love Exposure
9) Secret Sunshine
10) 5 Centimeters Per Second
11) Blue Gate Crossing
12) Oasis
13) Joint Security Area
14) Tony Takitani
15) Still Walking
16) Mother
17) One Fine Spring Day
18) Yasukuni
19) Battle Royale
20) The Host
21) Fish Story
22) City of Life and Death
23) Departures
24) Island Etude
25) Love of Siam

And that’s it. That was fun, but exhausting, which is why I’m glad we won’t have to do this for another 10 years. Remember to let me know where you agree and disagreed in the comments section, and if you haven’t seen any of these films (including the special mentions), then go watch them.

And we here at LoveHKFilm would prefer you to gain access to these films from Yesasia.com , because every time someone buys legit, an angel gets his wings.

12 Responses to “The Golden Rock Top 25 Panasian Films of the Decade - Part 3”

  1. r Says:

    nice list man. I’m still trying to figure mine out but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the same number 1 as you

  2. Samson Says:

    Totally agree with r. Thanks again, Kevin. Any chance of doing a vote for the Top Panasian Films of the Decade, like Kozo has done for the Top HK Films of the Decade?

  3. Foxlore Says:

    Dude, a list withoutMy Sassy Girl, not even as a special mention!?! Remind me to beat you with a wet noodle at our next movie. :-p

  4. GoldenRockProductions Says:

    r,

    Almost missed out on Yi Yi, until I found out it was made in 2000. It immediately shot to the top of the list. Be sure to drop by and let me know about your list.

    Samson,

    Thanks for the kind comments. Since this is mainly a HK film site, I’m a little skeptical about the support a readers Panasian vote would get on the site. If people are vocal enough about doing one (like comments asking for one), I’d be glad to.

    Foxlore,

    My Sassy Girl was in consideration, but there was just too many films. And I shall defend your wet noodle with a wet “hor fun”

  5. Diana Says:

    I haven’t seen most of these sadly, 5-6 out of the whole list, clearly I need to start renting from one of those online rental sites that specialize in Asian films again because Netflix just doesn’t cut it.

    My favorite of the list has to be “Nobody Knows.” No stars, no fancy twists in the plot just the sad reality of kids who deserve better parents. Didn’t the oldest child actor beat out Tony Leung Chiu Wai for some acting award for this film?

  6. Populasian Says:

    Nice list. Sadly, I’ve seen less than half of your top 25 on this list.

    Yi Yi is an amazing film and I can’t argue if anyone puts it #1 on any list.

    I wonder if you think Asian American films like Better Luck Tomorrow or Planet B-boy are considered Panasia.

    Great list and it’s more films to add to my Netflix queue.

  7. GoldenRockProductions Says:

    Diana,

    Yes, Yuya Yagira won Best Actor at Cannes over everyone else that year (Tony Leung was the target because of the ever-vocal HK press and he pretty couldn’t buy into a 14-year old kid winning an actor award). He has blown up physically (http://www.yuyayagira.jp/img/gallery/age18/18_55.jpg) and got married recently. How time flies by.

    Populasian,

    No, I don’t count Asian-American films because they don’t qualify as Asian investments or Asian directors. In those cases, Asian is an ethnic label, not a regional one. Hence, Asian-American cinema is counted American cinema, unless its funding sources suggest otherwise.

  8. mr hardy Says:

    hi guys,
    where can i get those movies that u listed above?..
    can be downloaded somewhere on the net?..
    and also i’m looking for ‘Ima Ai ni Yukimasu’..
    did you guys know where i can find em in malaysia?..

  9. darren Says:

    awesome list, glad to see nearly 1/3 are from Korea, who i really believe had the best films anywhere of the decade, they just excelled in so many areas. Oldboy, JSA, mother and memories of murder would easily be in the top 10 for me. also a bit dissapointed not to see my sassy girl in there, one of the few films where comedy and drama did work well.

    havent seen about 8 of the films on ur list but seeing how our taste seem similar well defintely try to seek them out

    btw welcome to dongmakgol and taegukgi would be in my list as well!

  10. GoldenRockProductions Says:

    Mr. Hardy,

    We don’t encourage illegal downloads on this site. You can easily find these films at an online retailer.

    As for Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu, you can find it here:

    http://www.yesasia.com/global/be-with-you-limited-special-edition-hong-kong-version/1004060409-0-0-0-en/info.html

    darren,

    My Sassy Girl is fun commercial entertainment, but I wouldn’t consider it a great film. Plus, the director’s other works this decade have been so..well, crappy, that I’m starting to believe My Sassy Girl was a fluke.

    As for Dongmakgol, I hated the third act, and Taegukgi is…OK.

    Thanks for checking out the list!

  11. LANGONG Says:

    well Shiri got me into Korea wave, so it will always be in my top ten Panasia films. Agreed that My Sassy girl should atleast be on the list.
    I think we could have a top 10 Panasia films of the decade voted by the readers just to see others tastes -
    Your list made it seem like only Janpan, Korea and Taiwan are making movies.

  12. GoldenRockProductions Says:

    Hi, LANGONG,

    Like I wrote in my disclaimer, this list is far from complete, for I am simply unable to watch everything made from every Asian country. Considering the amount of output from Korea and Japan in the last decade, it makes sense that they would dominate an Asian film list with some commercial leanings.

    Plus, there’s a Thai film on my list.

    As for the voters choice, I will have to work on the logistics, but that’s certainly feasible.

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