East Asian cinema

East Asian cinema

East Asian cinema

East Asian cinema is a term used to refer to the film industry and films produced in and/or by natives of East Asia. It can be seen as a sub-section of Asian cinema, which in turn is a sub-section of world cinema, a catchall term used in the English-speaking world to refer to all foreign language films.

The most significant film industries categorizable as East Asian cinema are the large, well-established industries of China, Hong Kong and Japan, and the growing industries in Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea. By definition the term also includes any film production within other countries in this region, such as Mongolia, Vietnam and Macau.

The terms 'Far Eastern cinema', 'Asian cinema', 'Eastern cinema' or 'Oriental cinema' are sometimes used synonymously with East Asian cinema, particularly in the United States, although their broader scope means that they could equally well apply to the movies produced in other parts of Asia, particularly the cinema of India including the enormous Bollywood film industry.

tyles 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 is particularly famous in the West for:

* Martial arts films (notably the various styles of Hong Kong action cinema such as period Kung Fu, action comedies and Wuxia)
* "Jidaigeki" (Japanese period films, especially Samurai films)
* J-Horror (Japanese horror films)
* Anime (Japanese animation)
* Heroic bloodshed (Hong Kong action films) and other gangster films (usually centred on Chinese Triad crime organisations)
* "Tokusatsu" (Japanese science fiction including "Kaiju" monster films)


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 generation of Chinese filmakers 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 film-makers 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 Yasujiro 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, a tradition extending at least as far back as John Sturges' 1960 western, "The Magnificent Seven" (based on "Seven Samurai"), and continuing through present day remakes of horror films like "Ring".

The influence also goes the other way. Many East Asian films have also been based upon Western source material as varied as the quickie Hong Kong remakes of Hollywood hits and Kurosawa's adaptations of 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:


* Cai Chusheng (1906-1968). Influential Chinese director of the 1930s and 1940s. Best known for his film "Spring River Flows East", which is frequently regarded as one of the masterpieces of Chinese cinema.
* Chen Kaige (1952- ). Fifth-Generation Chinese film director known for films such as "Farewell My Concubine", "The Emperor and the Assassin", and "Yellow Earth" (one of the first Chinese films to compete in international film festivals after the Cultural Revolution).
* Jiang Wen (1963- ). Famous Chinese actor turned director. Best known for "In the Heat of the Sun" and "Devils on the Doorstep", which won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
* Jia Zhangke (1970- ). One of the most prominent Sixth-Generation Chinese film directors. His most renowned works includes the highly acclaimed "Platform", "Unknown Pleasures", and "The World".
* Fei Mu (1906-1951). Pioneering Chinese director in the 1940s. Best known for the film "Spring in a Small Town", which is considered by many to be the best Chinese film ever made.
* Lou Ye (1965- ). Sixth-Generation film director of "Purple Butterfly", "Summer Palace", and "Suzhou River".
* Lu Chuan (1970- ). Sixth-Generation Chinese film director. Best known for "The Missing Gun" and the award-winning "".
* Tian Zhuangzhuang (1952- ). One of the most prominent Fifth-Generation film directors. Known for films such as "The Blue Kite" and "The Horse Thief".
* Wang Xiaoshuai (1966- ). Award-winning Sixth-Generation Chinese film director.
* Wu Yonggang (1907-1982). Chinese director of the 1930s best known for his work with the actress Ruan Lingyu, such as The Goddess.
* Xie Jin (1923- ). Well-known Chinese director during the Cultural Revolution. Notable works includes: "The Red Detachment of Women", "Two Stage Sisters".
* Yuan Muzhi (1909-1978). Chinese director best known for the film "Street Angel" starring actress Zhou Xuan.
* Zhang Yimou (1950- ). Fifth-Generation film director known for his sumptuous visual styles and allegorical story-tellings. Notable films: "Red Sorghum", "Raise the Red Lantern", "To Live", and "Hero".
* Zhang Yuan (1963- ). Sixth-Generation Chinese film director best known for the film "East Palace, West Palace".
* Zhu Shilin (1899-1967). Influential Chinese director of the early sound era.

Hong Kong

* Jackie Chan (1954- ).
* Stephen Chow (1962- ). Director, actor and comedian, best known in the West for the films "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle".
* Ringo Lam (1954- ). Best known for the film "City on Fire" starring Chow Yun-Fat; has also worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme.
* Tsui Hark (1950- ). Major commercial Hong Kong director; Hark attended film school in the U.S. Best known for "Zu", the "Once Upon A Time In China" series, and "Green Snake", among many other films.
* Ann Hui (1947- ). Hui emerged from the late 1970s Hong Kong new wave, gaining attention for "Spooky Bunch" and "Boat People".
* Sammo Hung (1952- ). Director, actor and stuntman of Hong Kong action cinema, famed for starring, directing and choreographing Kung Fu martial arts films for over 40 years, as well as his association with fellow stars Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao and the hit US television series Martial Law.
* Stanley Kwan (1957- ). Director of "Rouge", "Centre Stage" and "Lan Yu". Kwan is notable as one of a small number of directors who have successfully blurred the boundaries between "art" and "popular" cinema.
* Clara Law (1957- ). Law was one of the key figures in the late 1970s Hong Kong new wave, well known for "Autumn Moon" and "Temptation Of A Monk".
* Johnnie To (1955- ). Internationally acclaimed director of genre films, known for "All About Ah Long" (1989), "Fulltime Killer" (2001), "Election 2" (aka "Triad Election " ) (2006) and "Exiled" (2006). He is a darling of film festivals, from Cannes Film Festival to Venice Film Festival.
* Lo Wei (1918-1996).
* Wong Kar-Wai (1958- ). Internationally influential director known for his expressive stylishness. "In the Mood For Love" and "Chungking Express" are among his best-known films.
* John Woo (1946- ). One of the best known East Asian directors to Western audiences, his domestic output includes the Chow Yun-Fat films "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled" and his Western movies include "Broken Arrow", "Face/Off" and "Paycheck"
* Yuen Woo-ping (1945- ). Director of classic kung fu films including the "Drunken Master" (starring Jackie Chan) and "Magnificent Butcher" (starring Sammo Hung). In his later years his expertise as a martial arts choreographer has been sought by Western directors and he has worked on films including "The Matrix series", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill".


* Kinji Fukasaku (1930-2003). Director known for his groundbreaking yakuza films, including "Battles Without Honor and Humanity" (1973), as well as "Battle Royale" (2000).
* Susumu Hani (1928- ). Prominent independent filmmaker during the 1960s Japanese new wave, known for "She and He" and "Nanami, First Love". After a retreat from feature filmmaking in the 1970s, Hani subsequently gained renown as a nature documentarian.
* Ishirō Honda (1911-1993). Known primarily for his Tokusatsu and Kaiju monster films, particularly for bringing the first Godzilla film, "Gojira" to audiences. His many other films include "Mothra", "King Kong vs. Godzilla", "Mothra vs. Godzilla" and "Destroy All Monsters".
* Kon Ichikawa (1915- ) Influential postwar director of "Tokyo Olympiad" (1965), "The Burmese Harp" (1956), "Fires On The Plain" (1959) and "Conflagration" ("Enjo", 1959).
* Tadashi Imai (1912-1991). Imai emerged during the postwar years as a pioneering independent filmmaker, usually working outside the studio system and preferring an approach and viewpoint greatly influenced by Italian neo-realism. "Night Drum" (1958) and "Muddy Waters" are two of his best known films.
* Shohei Imamura (1926-2006). First Japanese director to win 2 Palme d'Or awards at the Cannes Film Festival, for "The Ballad of Narayama" (1982) and "The Eel" (1998). Other films include "The Insect Woman" (1963) and "Black Rain" (1989).
* Hiroshi Inagaki (1905-1980). Historical melodramatist and former child star best known for the "Samurai Trilogy" (1956-58), "Rickshaw Man" (1959) and "Chushingura" (1962).
* Shunji Iwai (1963- ). Director of "Swallowtail Butterfly" and "All About Lily Chou-Chou".
* Keisuke Kinoshita (1912-1998). Director best known for "Twenty-Four Eyes" (1954) and "Carmen Comes Home" (1952), Japan's first color film.
* Teinosuke Kinugasa (1896-1982). Pioneering director of "A Page of Madness" (1926) and "The Gate of Hell" (1953).
* Ryuhei Kitamura (1969 - ). A former director of pop music videos and television commercials, his films have a distinctly modern style and include "Versus", "Azumi" and the most recent incarnation of the giant Kaiju reptile, "".
* Takeshi Kitano (1947- ). A gifted, multi-faceted artist and performer, Kitano's best-regarded directorial efforts include "Sonatine" and "Hana-bi". Kitano is also known for his acting, in such films as "Battle Royale" and "Taboo".
* Masaki Kobayashi (1916-1996). Director of "The Human Condition" trilogy (1956-61), "Harakiri" (1962) and "Kwaidan" (1964).
* Hirokazu Koreeda (1962- ). Former documentarian known internationally for the feature films "Maborosi" (1996), "after life" (1999), "Distance" (2001) and "Nobody Knows" (2004).
* Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998). Renowned director, whose classic films include "Ikiru", "Rashomon", "Seven Samurai", "Kagemusha" and "Ran".
* Kiyoshi Kurosawa (1955 - ). Not related to the other Kurosawa, his films include "Cure" and the J-horror hit, "Kairo".
* Takashi Miike (1960- ). Prolific director of often bizarre and violent films. He is best known in the West for "Audition", "Ichi the Killer", "The Happiness of the Katakuris".
* Hayao Miyazaki (1941-). Acclaimed anime director and head of Studio Ghibli. His creations include "Princess Mononoke", "Spirited Away" and most recently, "Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea".
* Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956). Important, influential director of "The Life of Oharu" (1952), "Ugetsu Monogatari" (1953), and "Sansho the Bailiff" (1954).
* Hideo Nakata (1961- ). Director of modern J-Horror films such as "Ring" and "Dark Water".
* Mikio Naruse (1905-1969). Influential director of "Flowing" (1956) and "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" (1960). His 1935 "Wife, Be Like A Rose" was among the first Japanese films to gain an American theatrical release.
* Kihachi Okamoto (1923-2005). Prolific director. Best known in the West for his nihilistic samurai film "The Sword of Doom" (1966)
* Nagisa Oshima (1932- ). A key figure in the Japanese new wave, known for "Cruel Story Of Youth" (1960), "Night And Fog In Japan" (1960), "In the Realm of the Senses" (1976) and "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" (1983).
* Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963). Influential director of "Late Spring" (1949), "Early Summer" (1951), "Tokyo Story" (1953), and "Good Morning" (1959)
* Katsuhiro Otomo (1954- ). Manga artist and anime director responsible for "Akira" and "Steamboy".
* Kaneto Shindo (1912 - ). Director of "Naked Island" (1960) and "Onibaba" (1964).
* Hiroshi Teshigahara (1927-2001). Experimental filmmaker associated with the 60s new wave; best known for "The Pitfall" (1962) and "Woman in the Dunes" (1964).
* Shiro Toyoda (1906-1977). Satirist and dramatist best known for a 1959 adaptation of Yasunari Kawabata's "Snow Country".
* Sadao Yamanaka (1909-1938). "Humanity and Paper Balloons", one of very few surviving works directed by Yamanaka, who was acknowledged as an influence by both Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa.

outh Korea

* Bong Joon-ho (1969- ) Director of critically-acclaimed "Memories of Murder" (2003) and "Gwoemul" (aka "The Host", 2006), Korea's most successful film of all time.
* Im Kwon-taek (1936- ). One of Korea's most acclaimed directors. Director of "Sopyonje" (1993) and "Chihwaseon" (2002).
* Kang Je-gyu (1962- ). Director of the hit Korean film, "Shiri" and the war film "Taegukgi" (aka "Brotherhood"), one of the highest grossing films in Korean history.
* Kim Cheong-gi director of animated, fantasy and science-fiction films including "Robot Taekwon V" (1976) and "Ureme" (1986).
* Kim Ji-woon (1964 - ). Director of "The Quiet Family" (1998), "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003), and "A Bittersweet Life" (2005).
* Kim Ki-duk (1960- ). Best known in the West for the hit films "The Isle", "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring" and "3-Iron".
* Kim Ki-young (1919-1998). Director of "The Housemaid" (1960).
* Na Woon-gyu (1902-1937). Korea's first star. Writer/director/actor of "Arirang" (1926).
* Park Chan-wook (1963- ). Acclaimed director known particularly for his "Vengeance trilogy" - "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" (2002), "Oldboy" (2003) and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" (2005).
* Park Kwang-su (1955- ). Director of "Geu Seom e Kagoshipta" ("To the Starry Island") (1993) and "Areumdaun Chongnyun Jeon Tae-il" ("A Single Spark") (1995).
* Yu Hyun-mok (1925- ) Director of "A Stray Bullet" (1960).


* King Hu (1931-1997). Director of "Come Drink With Me" (1966), "Dragon Gate Inn" (1967) and "A Touch of Zen" (1971).
* Hou Hsiao-Hsien (1947-) Director of "A City of Sadness" (1989).
* Edward Yang (1947-2007). Director of "A Brighter Summer Day" (1991) and "Yi Yi" (2000).
* Ang Lee (1954- ). Director based in the US, whose diverse films include "Sense and Sensibility," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Hulk" and "Brokeback Mountain".
* Tsai Ming-liang (1957- ). Director of "Vive L'Amour" (1994) and "What Time Is It There?" (2001).

Prominent actors

* Tadanobu Asano
* Jackie Chan
* Chang Chen
* Joan Chen
* Choi Min-sik
* Stephen Chow
* Chow Yun-Fat
* Leslie Cheung
* Maggie Cheung
* Gong Li
* Setsuko Hara
* Jiang Wen
* Takeshi Kaneshiro
* Louis Koo
* Rosamund Kwan
* Machiko Kyō
* Andy Lau
* Tony Leung Chiu Wai
* Tony Leung Ka-Fai
* Brigitte Lin
* Bruce Lee
* Lee Byung-Hun
* Lee Young Ae
* Jet Li
* Toshiro Mifune
* Tatsuya Nakadai
* Chishu Ryu
* Hiroyuki Sanada
* Song Kang-ho
* Faye Wong
* Koji Yakusho
* Michelle Yeoh
* Yuen Biao
* Zhang Ziyi
* Takuya Kimura
* Song Hye-Kyo

ee also

* World cinema
* Asian cinema
* Southeast Asian cinema
* South Asian cinema
* Middle Eastern cinema
* Nuberu bagu (The Japanese New Wave)

Further reading

* "Contemporary Asian Cinema", Anne Tereska Ciecko, editor. Berg, 2006. ISBN 1 84520237 6


* [https://mahimahi.uchicago.edu/admin/ceas/ East Asia Film Library Collection: Center for East Asian Studies, University of Chicago]

External links

* [http://www.asiasociety.org/podcasts/subscribe.html Asia Society: The Cinema Scene] - regular podcast program containing news, reviews and interviews related to Asian Film
* [http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=005884908179894010258:5y2mthyiyoo Asian Cinema Search] at Google Co-op
* [http://www.btasia.org BTasia.org] - Asian bittorrent community - Asian movies, tv series and more.

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