East Asian cinema

East Asian cinema is cinema produced in East Asia or by people from this region. It is part of Asian cinema, which in turn is part of world cinema. "World cinema" is used in the English-speaking world to refer to all foreign language films.

The most significant film industries that are categorized as East Asian cinema are the industries of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The term is sometimes used to conflate Southeast Asian cinema which include the likes of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines; the two of which are collectively known as "Far East Asian Cinema". The largest markets in East Asia are Mainland China, Japan and South Korea.[1]

Eastern World
East Asia is highlighted in green on this map, which also includes South Asia (orange) and Southeast Asia (blue).

Styles and genres

The scope of East Asian cinema is huge and covers a wide array of different film styles and genres. However, East Asian cinema shares a common cultural background and is particularly famous in the West for:



Unlike the European film industries, the East Asian industries were not dominated by American distributors, and developed in relative isolation from Hollywood cinema; while Hollywood films were screened in East Asian countries, they were less popular than home-grown fare with local audiences. Thus, several distinctive genres and styles developed.

1950s: global influence

East Asian cinema has – to widely varying degrees nationally – had a global audience since at least the 1950s. At the beginning of the decade, Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon and Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu both captured prizes at the Venice Film Festival and elsewhere, and by the middle of the decade Teinosuke Kinugasa's Gate of Hell and the first part of Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy had won Oscars. Kurosawa's Seven Samurai became a global success; Japanese cinema had burst into international consciousness.

By the end of the decade, several critics associated with French journal Cahiers du cinéma published some of the first Western studies on Japanese film; many of those critics went on to become founding members of the French nouvelle vague, which began simultaneously with the Japanese New Wave.

1960s and 1970s

However, by the late 60s and early 70s, Japanese cinema had begun to become seriously affected by the collapse of the studio system. As Japanese cinema slipped into a period of relative low visibility, the cinema of Hong Kong entered a dramatic renaissance of its own, largely a side effect of the development of the wuxia blending of action, history, and spiritual concerns. Several major figures emerged in Hong Kong at this time – perhaps most famously, King Hu, whose 1966 Come Drink With Me was a key influence upon many subsequent Hong Kong cinematic developments. Shortly thereafter, the American-born Bruce Lee became a global icon.

1980s to the present

During the 1980s, Japanese cinema – aided by the rise of independent filmmaking and the spectacular success of anime – began to make something of an international comeback. Simultaneously, a new post-Mao Zedong generation of Chinese filmmakers began to gain global attention. Another group of filmmakers, centered around Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien launched what has become known as the "Taiwanese New Wave".

With the post-1980 rise in popularity of East Asian cinema in the West, Western audiences are again becoming familiar with many of the industry's filmmakers and stars. A number of these key players, such as Chow Yun-fat and Zhang Ziyi have "crossed over", working in Western films. Others have gained exposure through the international success of their films, though many more retain more of a "cult" appeal, finding a degree of Western success through DVD sales rather than cinema releases.

Influence and impact

As the popularity of East Asian films has endured, it is unsurprising that members of the Western film industry would cite their influences (notably George Lucas, Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese citing Akira Kurosawa; and Jim Jarmusch and Paul Schrader's similar mentions of Yasujirō Ozu), and – on occasion – work to introduce less well-known filmmakers to Western audiences (such as the growing number of Eastern films released with the endorsement "Quentin Tarantino Presents").

Remakes: East and West

Another sign of the increasing influence of East Asian film in the West is the number of East Asian films that have been remade in Hollywood and European cinema, a tradition extending at least as far back as Western remakes of Akira Kurosawa films, such as John Sturges' 1960 The Magnificent Seven (based on Seven Samurai), Sergio Leone's 1964 A Fistful of Dollars (based on Yojimbo) and Martin Ritt's 1964 The Outrage (based on Rashomon), continuing through present-day remakes of J-Horror films like Ring and Ju-on: The Grudge.

The influence also goes the other way. A number of East Asian films have also been based upon Western source material as varied as the quickie Hong Kong film remakes of Hollywood hits as well as Kurosawa's adaptations of works by William Shakespeare (The Bad Sleep Well, Throne of Blood, and Ran), Maxim Gorky (The Lower Depths) and Ed McBain (High and Low).

Prominent directors

Some of the better known figures of East Asian cinema include:


Hong Kong


South Korea


Prominent actors


Hong Kong


South Korea


See also


  1. ^ "The Asian films driving global box office". Film Business Asia. 16 May 2014. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.

Further reading

  • Contemporary Asian Cinema, Anne Tereska Ciecko, editor. Berg, 2006. ISBN 1-84520-237-6
  • East Asian Cinemas, Leon Hunt & Wing-Fai Leung, editors, Tauris, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84511-614-9


External links

Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke

Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation is a scholarly book which uses techniques of literary criticism on anime by Susan J. Napier published in 2001 by Palgrave Macmillan. It discusses themes of shōjo, hentai, mecha, magical girlfriend and magical girl anime using select titles. It also discusses some aspects of the English-speaking anime fandom. The book has been translated into Japanese, and had four editions, before a revised fifth edition was published in 2005 as Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation.

Asian Invasion

Asian Invasion is a three-part mini-series presented by Jonathan Ross which aired on BBC Four in January 2006. Focusing on East Asian cinema, the series looked at some of the most famous films, actors and directors in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

The series was directed by Rod Edge and written and produced by Jack Barth.

Blissfully Yours

Blissfully Yours (Thai: สุดเสน่หา, romanized: S̄ud s̄aǹeh̄ā) is a 2002 Thai romance film directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

Central Park Media

Central Park Media was an American multimedia entertainment company based in New York City, New York, that was active in the distribution of East Asian cinema, television series, anime, manga and manhwa titles in North America prior to its bankruptcy in 2009. It was headquartered in the 250 West 57th Street building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

Cinema of Asia

Asian cinema refers to the film industries and films produced in the continent of Asia, and is also sometimes known as Eastern cinema. More commonly, however, it is most often used to refer to the cinema of Eastern, Southeastern and Southern Asia. West Asian cinema is sometimes classified as part of Middle Eastern cinema, along with the cinema of Egypt. The cinema of Central Asia is often grouped with the Middle East or, in the past, the cinema of the Soviet Union during the Soviet Central Asia era. North Asia is dominated by Siberian Russian cinema, and is thus considered part of European cinema.

East Asian cinema is typified by the cinema of Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, including the Japanese anime industry and action films of Hong Kong. South Asian cinema is typified by the cinema of India (including Bollywood, South Indian, Bengali and Punjabi cinema), the cinema of Pakistan (including Punjabi and Urdu cinema), the cinema of Bangladesh (Bengali cinema), and the cinema of Nepal. Southeast Asian cinema is typified by the cinema of the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries. The cinema of Central Asia and the southern Caucasus is typified by Iranian cinema and the cinema of Tajikistan. West Asian cinema is typified by Arab cinema, Iranian cinema, Israeli cinema, Jewish cinema, and Turkish cinema.

Cinema of Mongolia

The cinema of Mongolia has been strongly influenced by the cinema of Russia, which differentiates it from cinematic developments in the rest of Asia.

Cinema of Vietnam

The cinema of Vietnam originates in the 1920s and has largely been shaped by wars that have been fought in the country from the 1940s to the 1970s. Better known Vietnamese language films include Cyclo, The Scent of Green Papaya and Vertical Ray of the Sun, all by French-trained Việt Kiều director Tran Anh Hung. In recent years, as Vietnam's film industry has modernized and moved beyond government-backed propaganda films, contemporary Vietnamese filmmakers have gained a wider audience with films such as Buffalo Boy, Bar Girls and The White Silk Dress.


Dora-heita (どら平太, English: Alley Cat) is a 2000 Japanese film by Director Kon Ichikawa. It was the 74th film made by Ichikawa.

Hold You Tight (film)

Hold You Tight (Chinese: 愈快樂愈墮落; pinyin: Yù kuàilè yù duòluò) is a 1998 Hong Kong romantic drama film directed by Stanley Kwan. The film features full-frontal male nudity.It is Stanley Kwan's seventh feature film, and he says that his previous two documentaries A Personal Memoir of Hong Kong and Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema had strong influences on making this film: "Both of them evolved from my thoughts on family background and upbringing, my career as a filmmaker, my sexual orientation and my identity as a Chinese man living in a British colony. The film was written for Hong Kong actress Chingmy Yau who plays two roles, a young executive and a worldly boutique owner."

Impact (action entertainment magazine)

Impact was a monthly magazine published in the United Kingdom between January 1992 and January 2012. Founded and initially edited by film maker Bey Logan, 241 issues were published during its twenty-year history.

After the magazine ceased publication, it continued as an online presence. It is likely modelled on its French counterpart, also known as Impact, which was started in 1986. It covers the field of action entertainment: including Hong Kong action cinema, worldwide martial arts films, Hollywood productions, anime, comics, action films and East Asian cinema in general. The website is edited by John Mosby, with Mike Leeder acting as Eastern Editor from the Hong Kong office, and Andrez Bergen as Tokyo Correspondent.

Filmmakers such as Phil Hobden (Left For Dead and Ten Dead Men) write regular articles for the magazine.

No No Sleep

No No Sleep (Chinese: 无无眠; pinyin: Wu wu mian) is an award-winning 2015 mainland China—Taiwan—Hong Kong short film by Taiwanese film director Tsai Ming-liang, winning Best Director at the Taipei Film Awards in 2015. It features Taiwanese actor Lee Kang-sheng and Japanese actor Masanobu Andō, and includes non-sexual full-frontal male nudity.

Nudity in film

Nudity in film is the presentation in a film of at least one person who is nude, partially nude or wearing less clothing than contemporary norms in some societies consider "modest". Since the development of the medium, inclusion in films of any form of sexuality has been controversial, and in the case of most nude scenes has had to be justified as being part of the story, in the concept of "artistically justifiable nudity". In some cases nudity is itself the object of a film or is used in the development of the character of the subject. In some cases, nudity has been criticized as "superfluous" or "gratuitous" to the plot, and some film producers have been accused of including nudity in a film to appeal to certain audiences. Many actors and actresses have appeared nude, or exposing parts of their bodies or dressed in ways considered provocative by contemporary standards at some point in their careers.

Nudity in film should be distinguished from sex in film. Erotic films are suggestive of sexuality, and usually contain nudity, though that is not a prerequisite. Nudity in a sexual context is common in pornographic films, but softcore pornographic films generally avoid depiction of a penis or a vulva. A film on naturism or about people for whom nudity is common may contain non-sexual nudity, and some other non-pornographic films may contain very brief nude scenes. The vast majority of nudity in film is found in pornographic films.

Nude scenes can be controversial in some cultures because they may challenge some of the community's standards of modesty. These standards vary by culture, and depend on the type of nudity, who is exposed, which parts of the body are exposed, the duration of the exposure, the pose, the context, and other aspects. Regardless, in many cultures nudity in film is subject to censorship or rating regimes which control the content of films, with the intention of limiting content that is deemed by the classification authorities or the movie industry, or both, to be harmful or undesirable, morally or otherwise.

Many directors and producers apply self-censorship, limiting nudity (and other content) in their films, to avoid external censorship or a strict rating, in countries that have a rating system. Directors and producers may choose to limit nudity because of objections from actors involved, or for a wide variety of other personal, artistic, genre-bound or narrative-oriented reasons.

Reading the Vampire Slayer

Reading the Vampire Slayer is a 2004 academic publication relating to the fictional Buffyverse established by TV series, Buffy and Angel.

Southeast Asian cinema

Southeast Asian cinema is the film industry and films produced in, or by natives of, Southeast Asia. It includes any films produced in Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Southeast Asian cinema is a sub-section of continental Asian cinema, which in turn comes under the umbrella term of World cinema, a term used in some anglophone countries to describe any foreign language films.

The Big Road

The Big Road (Chinese: 大路; pinyin: Dàlù), also known as The Highway, is a 1934 Chinese film directed by Sun Yu and starring Jin Yan and Li Lili. It is a silent film but with music and sound effects added post-production. The film deals with a group of workers who are constructing a highway for use in the war against the Japanese.

The Big Road was named the 30th greatest Chinese film ever made by the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2004.

Tony Rayns

Antony Rayns (born 1948) is a British writer, commentator, film festival programmer and screenwriter. Much inspired in his youth by the films of Kenneth Anger, he wrote for the underground publication Cinema Rising (its name inspired by Anger's Scorpio Rising) before contributing to the Monthly Film Bulletin from the December 1970 issue until its demise in 1991. He has written for the British Film Institute's magazine Sight & Sound since the 1970s, and also contributed extensively to Time Out and to Melody Maker in the late 1970s.

Known for his expertise in East Asian cinema, he provides commentary tracks for DVD releases of Asian films. He coordinated the Dragons and Tigers competition for Asian films at the Vancouver International Film Festival from 1988 to 2006. In the 1980s, he presented a series called New Chinese Cinema on British television, showing (sometimes rare) films and biographies of eminent Chinese directors. He has also worked as a translator for English subtitles on films from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. For example, he wrote the English subtitles for the films of Huang Ming-chuan in the 1990s in Taiwan.

He wrote the screenplay for Away with Words, a feature film directed by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, starring Asano Tadanobu. He has written books about Seijun Suzuki, Wong Kar-wai and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Tropical Malady

Tropical Malady (RTGS: Satpralat; lit. "monster") is a 2004 Thai romantic psychological drama film written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The film has a bifurcated structure; it is separated into two segments – the first is a romance between two men, and the second a mysterious tale about a soldier lost in the woods, bedeviled by the spirit of a shaman.

It won the Jury Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and was the first Thai film to be in the main competition at Cannes. It is also the first Thai film to win a prize at one of the "Big Three" film festivals.

Winds of September

Winds of September (九降風) is a 2008 Taiwanese film. Set in 1996 in Hsinchu, it focuses on a gang of teenage boys who drink, smoke and gamble, and the relationships between them. It broke a number of taboos in Taiwanese filmmaking, including showing the group skinny dipping.

Directed and co-written by Tom Lin, the film was praised for its good acting and realistic themes. It was screened at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, and the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2008.

World cinema

World cinema is not the sum-total of all films made around the world. Its use is analogous to the use of the term "world literature". Goethe used the concept of Weltliteratur (world literature) in several of his essays in the early decades of the nineteenth century to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe, including works of non-Western origin. An interest in "world cinema" suggests an awareness of high-quality films made outside the Hollywood studio system which dominates international viewership. However, some people use the term to refer to the film and film industries of non-English-speaking countries in English-speaking countries. Equating the dominant form of cinema with the dominant language (English) can be inherently problematic. There are many countries such as Canada, England, South Africa and even Asian countries like India, where films are made in English but they are part of "world cinema" due to their marginal status in terms of access or viewership. It can be argued that an understanding of "world cinema" centering around Hollywood cinema suggests a Eurocentric view. "World cinema" is often used interchangeably with the term foreign film. "Foreign" is also a relative term, suggesting a Western viewpoint. One person's national cinema can be another person's foreign film. In fact, American independent cinema may be considered part of "world cinema" as it does not have adequate access.

Technically, foreign film does not mean the same as foreign language film, but the inference is that a foreign film is not only foreign in terms of the country of production, but also in terms of the language used. As such, the use of the term foreign film for films produced in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada or other English-speaking countries would be uncommon within other English-speaking countries.

Countries and regions
Ethnic groups
Politics and economics
Science and technology
North America
South America


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.