The vast catalogue Netflix contains can be a daunting proposition for viewers looking for something new. At Japan Cinema, we’ve taken the time to put together a list that we feel represents the cream of the crop of what’s available. With a mixture of stone cold classics and some hidden gems, This Top 10 list should provide viewers with a great road map of what to watch; with titles from South Korea, Hong Kong, China & Japan.
It is not often that we become privy to a film about the beautifying of corpses, director Yojiro Takita takes on the grim subject matter and gives it a commercial charm and appeal all of its own. Telling the story of Daigo, a former Cellist, Departures explores his new career path as a Nokanshi, a role responsible for the act of preparing a body for cremation. Beautifully filmed and superbly acted, Departures is both moving and heartfelt.
I Saw the Devil is a brutally violent, hypnotic thriller not for the faint of heart. Telling a darkly fantastical tale, I Saw The Devil manages to encapsulate Asian Cinema’s most visually arresting moments. Instead of turning a Serial Killer over to justice, a detective decides that he will take matters into his own hands, in this unforgiving and uncompromising tale, one for the brave only.
The fear of technology has never been more elegantly realised than in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse. A haunting mediation on our increased reliance with the internet, Pulse offers very little in the form of explanation, but instead provides a nightmarish ride that will linger on the mind long after its closing credits.
It’s a rare feat to produce a film that successfully mashes several different genres into one – let alone be able to satisfy both rabid fanboys and the hypercritical art-house crowd – but Joon-ho Bong’s “The Host” does just that, a monster movie with a boat load of heart and a sharpened social conscience.
Based on true events, Cold Fish provides an epic crime saga full of guts, gore and deceit. Telling the tale of a down on his luck Tropical Fish Store Owner, Cold Fish is quickly pulled into the proverbial depths of hell, as he unwittingly lies, cheats and kills his way to a better life. Both equally loved and revered by critics alike, Sion Sono’s twisted masterpiece is certainly worth viewing.
A superbly crafted film, Last Train Home documents the annual 130 million workers that return from China’s industrial cities to their homes in the countryside. Containing an insightful look into Chinese culture and the perilous work conditions citizens must face, The Last Train Home is a heartbreaking look into a world rarely shown.
Like a fever dream, A Tale Of Two Sisters bares little in the way of explanation. What it does bring to the table is a mixture of haunting imagery and a harrowing insight into the affects of child abuse. Not every answer is given; then again that isn’t really the point. Instead sit back and get lost in a tortured world that manages to provide staggering beauty despite some terrifying sequences.
Undeniably brutal and uncompromising, Audition is a difficult film to watch. Directed by Takashii Miike, Audition is a finely crafted and intelligently directed film full of unforgettable performances. Now considered a benchmark in contemporary Japanese cinema, Audition is both harrowing and thoughtful, a title that will never truly leave you. “Kiri kiri kiri kiri.”
Though not finding much success in his homeland, the comedian turned director Takeshi Kitano exploded onto the international scene with his fourth feature Sonatine; A Yakuza film that breaks all the typical trappings of the genre and established the framework for his style and his masterpiece to come, Hana-bi (Fireworks). Kitano injected new life and practically single-handedly revived the genre for a new age. Essential viewing.
Probably the most well known and critically acclaimed on the list, Battle Royale is a peculiar cocktail of intense action and bitter satire that is still talked about to this very day. Telling a tale set in a fictitious Japan, Battle Royale revolves around a futuristic schooling system whereby the country’s most unruly students are sent off to a deserted island and tasked with killing one another. An influential title, Battle Royale along with films such as Ringu and Ichi The Killer (which aren’t on Netflix) helped pave the way for the huge resurgence in Asian cinema worldwide. Both Violently bitter and utterly hilarious Battle Royale is worth everyone’s time.