Not all great movies are made in the United States. Sometimes the best films are from foreign countries. In fact, many foreign directors come to Hollywood to make American movies. Here are a few examples of great foreign films all film fans show watch.
Sonatine is a 1993 Japanese yakuza drama directed by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano also starred, edited, and wrote the film as well. Sonatine was the movie that broke Kitano into the international spotlight. He had always been famous in Japan but after the film was released, he became a worldwide success. The movie did not do very well in Japan but received universal praise, especially in western countries. Although the movie was made in 1993, the United States did not get the movie until 1998. It was well worth the wait.
Sonatine is about an aging yakuza leader from Tokyo named Murakawa whose clan is sent to Okinawa to try to end a gang war between 2 rival factions. He fails to end the gang war and is caught in the middle of the feud. After some members of his clan are killed, he retreats with his remaining foot soldiers to a beach where he tries to lay low until it is safe enough to return to Tokyo.
Unlike most ganger movies, Sonatine does not have a ton of action scenes. It relays more on characterization and story to entertain the audience. There is still a fair amount of action but not nearly as much as you would see in your typical American action flick. The characters of the film are very deep which helps the audience grow a connection with them. You start to feel for Murakawa as he grows more and more bitter with the ganger lifestyle. Overall, Sonatine is an amazing film. If you are a fan of Japanese action dramas or Takeshi Kitano, Sonatine is a must-watch.
2. City of Lost Children
This 1995 French film might be the strangest movie on this list. Ron Perlman stars in this sci-fi drama that was truly ahead of its time. City of Lost Children was an international co-production meaning many companies from different countries helped make this film. France, Germany, and Spain all came together to work on this picture.
City of Lost Children is about a mad scientist named Krank who is unable to dream which causes him to age at a rapid rate. In order to stop his premature aging, he creates a device that allows him to steal children’s dreams. A young boy named Denree is among the children captured by Krank’s henchmen. Denree turns out to be the brother of the local strongman who goes by the name One. One must track down his brother and save him from the evil scientist Krank.
The film has a strong steampunk vibe. The city is full of strange machinery and technology which gives it a very interesting atmosphere. City of Lost Children is also a pretty weird movie. The plot can be a bit confusing at times, but everything else in the film more than makes up for it. It is full of unique characters and artsy camera scenes. The visual effects were amazing for the 1990s and were truly ahead of its time. It is hard to compare this movie with other films since its so unique. Any fan of sci-fi movies or the steampunk style should definitely watch City of Lost Children.
Oldboy is another unique film that received high praise all over the world when it was released in 2003. Many critics believe this South Korean action drama is one of the best movies of the 2000s. It even inspired an American remake in 2013 starring big-name actors such as Samuel L. Jackson. The remake is not nearly as good as the original, but honestly, that was expected due to how great the 2003 version is. Oldboy is a movie unlike any other that will pull every emotion out of you from happiness to despair.
The movie tells the story of Oh Dae-su after he is kidnaped and put into isolation for 15 years. Dae-su has no idea who would kidnap him or why anyone would want to torment him in such a terrible way. He is finally released 15 years later and starts his plan of vengeance. He tries to track down his capture to get revenge but finds out there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. Dae-su faces many twists and turns during his journey and finds more questions than answers.
Oldboy is extremely fascinating. Every time you think you found something out about Oh Dae-su, a twist happens that throws you completely off track. The plot sounds confusing and hard to follow but the film does an amazing job telling its story leaving audiences at the edge of their seats. It mixes many different film genres together as well. It has drama, action, suspense, and even a hint of romance. Oldboy is worth a watch for pretty much anyone who enjoys foreign films.
4. Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows is a 2004 Japanese drama that will pull at your heartstrings. The film is based on the 1988 Sugamo child abandonment case that received media attention across the world. It received many different awards including Best Film and Best Director at the 47th Hochi Film Awards along with Best Actor at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Nobody Knows is unbelievably well done and captivates its audience putting them on an emotional roller coaster they will not soon forget
The movie is about 4 brothers and sisters between the ages of 5-12 living in a small apartment in Tokyo after their mother abandons them to move in with her new lover. The oldest sibling named Akira Fukushima has to take care of his family but has no source of income since. He does everything he can to support his siblings no matter how difficult it may be.
Nobody Knows is a very heavy film. The audience grows an emotional connection with the children very early on. As the movie progresses, the more you want to help Akira’s family. The acting is some of the best you will see from someone so young, especially by the actor who played Akira. As stated before, Nobody Knows will pull on your heartstrings but is one of the best Japanese dramas to come out of the mid-2000s. Just make sure you have some tissues next to you when you watch this amazing film.
Metropolis is a 1927 German silent film that is best known for pioneering the sci-fi genre. It was the first feature-length science fiction film. It has inspired many films and characters including the design for C-3PO in the Star Wars movies. It had mixed reviews back when it was first released but is now viewed as one of the most important movies in cinema history.
The movie is about a futuristic city called Metropolis that is divided into 2 divisions. The first division is above ground where the wealthy people live an untroubled life. The second division is underground where the poor residents have to take care of the machinery that keeps the above-ground community functioning.
One day the son of the master of Metropolis, Freder Fredersen, becomes infatuated by a beautiful woman named Maria. He decides to follow her to the underground division and is horrified by the poor society. Freder decides to become the mediator for the 2 divisions in order to improve the working-class community. Freder soon realizes there is more to this than he thought and is thrown in the middle of a revolution.
Metropolis is one of the rare silent films that still holds up today. The special effects were absolutely amazing for its time and the film is viewed as one of the greatest movies of the silent era. It was ranked 12th in Empire magazine’s “100 Best Films of World Cinema” in 2012. Many film students still study Metropolis to this day.