○This engaging noir drama about a boozy former policeman helping authorities investigate a gruesome murder in a gritty, urban landscape in northern China... Director Diao Yinan’s low-key thriller, with its less-than-perfect cops, femme fatale and quirky flashes of dark comedy, is one of the best offerings in recent Chinese films set against a backdrop of a complex society.
○Shot in semi-documentary style, this film explores the often-frustrated lives and romantic yearnings of a group of blind massage therapists as they wrestle with concepts that most of us take for granted. (“What is beauty?” one character wonders. “It obsesses me all the time, night and day.”)Director Lou Ye is one of China’s most provocative filmmakers and has a contentious history with authorities...
○Two of China’s most popular actors team up for this road movie about a pair of friends — a recently divorced man and a sex-obsessed movie producer — who set off from Beijing for the open country and blue skies of southwest Yunnan province...Funny, offensive and sometimes poignant, “Breakup Buddies” was the year’s top domestic hit, pulling in 1.17 billion yuan ($188 million), proving that Hollywood isn’t the only movie capital ably churning out raunchy comedies.
○Director Zhang Yimou...turns to the Cultural Revolution for inspiration in this story about a man (Chen Daoming) who is reunited with his wife (Gong Li) and daughter after spending years in a labor camp.The wife’s amnesia after her husband’s return, and his efforts to help her regain her memory, serve as a metaphor for this tumultuous period in China’s history.
○India’s creaky legal system is the protagonist in this study of a school teacher on trial for abetting a suicide after his street-corner rants (in the form of musical poetry) on oppression, racism and the country’s caste system allegedly provoked a sewer worker to take his own life.
○Child abduction is a sensitive social issue in China because of the reasons often behind it: economic disparity and the one-child policy. Based on a real-life case that grabbed national headlines, the film is about a divorced couple (another reflection of contemporary China) who spend three years desperately searching the country for their kidnapped son... It’s a delicate subject for China’s censors, but director Peter Chan relieved the story of one-note villains and weaved the melodrama with thoughtful observation.
○Director Ann Hui won best director at last month’s Golden Horse Awards for her three-hour literary epic depicting the troubled life and tumultuous relationships of novelist Xiao Hong, one of China’s most-prominent women writers whose work emerged during in the 1930s.
○It’s a baseball tale as old as the game itself: an underdog team claiming victory against impossible odds. “Kano” is based on a true story set in Japanese-occupied Taiwan in 1931, when a multiracial group of Japanese, Chinese and aboriginal players — targets of bigotry from their colonial rulers — went from a being a hapless club to competing in Japan’s most prestigious high-school baseball championship.
○Director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri jumps into “Lolita” territory with his controversial film about a young girl, orphaned after an earthquake and tsunami kill her family, and her adoptive father (who’s also a distant relative) develop a sexual relationship as she becomes a teenager...
○Koreans rushed to see this elaborate war drama set in 1597 about a real-life admiral who, with just 12 ships under his command, defeated an invading Japanese fleet with more than 300 vessels.
The 10 Essential Asian Films of 2014（原载于《华尔街日报》，作者：Dean Napolitano）