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Battle Royale (2000)
Japan-A group of high school kids are left on an island to fight each other to the death, the last one standing wins the Battle Royale. Acting and dialog can be a little cheesy and melodramatic at time, but still a very good movie.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Spain-A young girl living during the Spanish Civil War meets a mythical fawn and must complete three tasks in a story that mixes fairy-tale elements with realistic war time violence. It is a beautiful and sometimes sad movie.
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Spain-By the same director as Pan's Labyrinth and also set during the Spanish Civil War. An orphaned boy is haunted by the ghost of another boy who disappeared from the school where he is staying, this is one of my favorite foreign movies.
S. Korea-A man imprisoned for 15 years must figure out why he was locked up and get revenge on those that did it. This has great fight scenes in it and also an awesome story to back it up.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
S. Korea-A kidnapping gone wrong drives a father to seek revenge on the kidnappers who just wanted the money for a kidney transplant.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)
S. Korea-A woman gets out of prison to-you guessed it-get revenge on her ex-boyfriend who set her up for murder.
The Eye (2002)
China-A blind woman who gets an eye transplant starts seeing ghosts and must figure out what happened to the eyes' last owner, creepy and atmospheric movie.
The Eye 2 (2004)
China-This was directed by the same guys who did the first movie but has nothing to do with the storyline of the first Eye movie, A woman starts to see ghosts after she tries to commit suicide and then finds out she is pregnant.
City of god (2002)
Brazil-In Rio De Janeiro gangs of kids take over the streets and the drug trade.
The City of Lost Children (1995)
France-Fantasy movie about an evil scientist who kidnaps children so he can steal their dreams.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Sweden-A knight returning from the Crusades meets Death and has to play a game of chess with Death to spare his life, an oldie but goodie.
France-This movie done in reverse (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Memento) shows how some actions can lead to life-changing consequences, be warned there are a couple of scenes that are hard to watch because their brutality.
Maria Full of Grace (2004)
Columbia-A desperate young woman decides to be a mule for heroin after losing her low-paying job at a factory.
Japan-A woman starring in a movie about a real-life mass murder that happened in a hotel starts to think she is the reincarnation of the girl she is playing.
Scotland-About the ups and downs in the lives of a group of junkies, I absolutely love this movie, one of the best "drug genre" movies, it's very funny and shows some of the bad consequences of doing drugs without being a total downer.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
England-Shaun is just an average guy until he has to start fighting the zombies that are swarming London, a comedy with a little horror mixed in, it's very funny and probably the best spoof movie I've seen.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Japan-This anime set during World War II is about how a brother and sister who have been orphaned due to the war have to struggle to survive, this movie is so sad and a real tearjerker.
Survive Style 5+ (2004)
Japan-A movie with multiple storylines, it is a very hard movie to categorize, a man kills his wife several times because she keeps coming back from the dead, a man thinks he's a bird because the guy that hypnotized him got murdered before he could finish, just those couple of example gives an idea of how crazy this movie is, probably too weird and out there for most but I loved it.
Japan-A widower whose wife has been dead for several years decides to hold a fake audition to look for a new wife, he is instantly attracted to Asami, a beautiful ballet dancer, but this girl is not everything she appears to be, I really don't want to give away anything more than that.
S. America-Set during the times of the ancient Mayans, Jaguar Paw is a young man who is captured to be sacrificed to the gods and how he tries to escape.
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Japan-set in World War II, about the battle of Iwo Jima as seen from the Japanese perspective.
Blue Spring (2001)
Japan-In a high school where the kids rule the show and teachers are just apathetic bystanders, two teenage boys wage war over who's gonna be top dog.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
France-Set during the 1700's, a man must try to stop a creature that is attacking people in the French countryside, cool fighting sequences and is based on true events.
Ichi the Killer (2001)
Japan-A sadomasochistic yakuza searches for a young man who has been manipulated into becoming a ruthless killing machine, to avenge the death of this boss. Very violent, not for everyone but if you like extreme cinema this is for you.
Memories of Murder (2003)
S. Korea-About a couple of cops who are trying to catch South Korea's first serial killer and will do anything to stop him.
Tokyo Zombie (2005)
Japan-Low budget movie about zombies taking over Tokyo and people having to fight them in death matches, funny movie, along the same line as "Shaun of the Dead".
Last Life in the Universe (2003)
Thailand-About a timid Japanese librarian who dreams of committing suicide until he meets a Thai woman who has lost her sister.
All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)
Japan-A teenage boy is bullied and only finds comfort in his favorite singer, the bullying in this movie is on the extreme side, beat-downs, rape and prostitution are some examples of what happens to these kids when teachers and parents stand idly by.
Shallow Grave (1994)
Scotland-Three people find their new roommate dead in his room with a stash of drugs and a whole lot of cash, they decide to cover up the death and keep the money which leads to a downward spiral when the dealers show up looking for the dead man and the cash.
The Descent (2005)
Scotland-A group of women going spelunking in a cave system that has never been explored before, little do they know something else is already down there.
Dark Water (2002)
Japan-A divorced woman and her young daughter move into a run down apartment building where they start to see another little girl hanging around an empty apartment where a girl died.
The Dreamers (2003)
France-Set in the 1960's, a young American man staying in Paris meets a pair of young French people, who are also brother and sister, and ends up staying with them in their apartment after their parents go on vacation where they talk about old movies and...um, explore their sexuality. Very sexually explicit (at least by American standards) and is rated NC-17.
28 Days Later (2002)
England-A man wakes up out of a coma 28 days after an outbreak of a disease that fills people with anger and makes them mindless killers.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
England-A young sociopathic thug who goes around beating, raping, and robbing people gets put into prison after one of his victims dies and is put into a experiment for drug that is supposed to "cure" him of being violent, a classic and one of my all-time favorite movies.
Nobody Knows (2004)
Japan-Based on a true story about a pre-teen boy who has to take care of his younger siblings after their immature and selfish mother abandons them in their apartment to fend for themselves.
Japan-A bizarre movie from Takishi Mikke about a yakuza looking for his friend, this one is hard to explain, but it's funny at times and good if you like weird movies.
France-Crazy ass movie about a group of young people who leave the city to go hang out at the country estate of one of the girls in their group, while there they meet a bunch of weird locals, the weirdest being Joseph, the caretaker of the estate, who has sinister plans for one of them.
Love & Pop (1998)
Japan-A group of high school girls start to engage in "compensated dating" which in Japan is where young girls are paid by older men to go hang out with them, it can sometimes involve sex, but a lot of the times the men just like hanging out with young girls. Hiromi is the main character, she starts doing compensated dating to get money for a ring and runs into some really strange guys.
Thailand-A photographer and his girlfriend accidentally hit a woman coming home from their friend's wedding, they leave the scene of the crime and try to forget about the incident, but then the man starts to see strange things in his photos and realize he is being haunted by the woman they hit and run, very creepy movie!
Japan-Samehada is a yakuza on the run after stealing money from his boss, Toshiko is a quiet, mousy girl who is running away from her job at a run-down hotel and her lecherous uncle who inadvertently saves Samehada from a mob execution, together they have to try and stay ahead of the yakuzas and her uncle who is willing to do anything to get her back.
Man Bites Dog (1992)
Belgium-This mocumenarty has a camera crew following around Ben a vicious serial killer, who when he is not killing people likes to philosophize about music, art, and life. The camera crew that follows Ben around go from being bystanders, neither condemning or helping Ben on his murderous rampages, to slowly becoming accomplices in his crimes, this movie is in black and white and has some disturbing scenes that are not for the weak of heart.
Lust, Caution (2007)
China-This movie got a lot of attention for it's graphic sex scenes that got it an NC-17 rating here in the States (a toned-down R-rated version of the movie can also be found), but there is more to this story set in World War II era China. A poor college student who joins an underground resistance group and transforms herself into a sophisticated, upper-crust housewife. Her purpose in doing this is so she can catch the attention of a Chinese man who has gained much money and power by supporting the Japanese authorities who are occupying China, if she can gain his trust, it will be her job to put him in the path of an assassin's bullet.
13 Tzameti (2005)
France-Sebastian is a young immigrant living an impoverished live in France, one day while doing some roofing, he overhears the man he is working for talk about an opportunity to make himself rich. Even though the whole deal sounds shady, Sebastian decides to try and become the recipient of the money the man is expecting to get, which will lead him into a dangerous situation that won't be easy to get out of, I don't want to give any more detail than that, but this engrossing thriller is worth watching.
Heavenly creatures (1994)
New Zealand-Pauline and Juliet are two imaginative girls who become best friends while attending a Catholic high school during the 1950's. As their friendship deepens the girls become more involved in their fantasy world and more dependent of each other while they shut everyone else in their lives out. Pauline and Juliet will not let anyone separate them even if it means they have to commit murder to stay together, this fascinating story is based on a real murder case that happened in New Zealand and is directed by Peter Jackson way before he gained fame with Lord of the Rings.
Mongolia-The life of Ghenghis Khan, from his childhood to his rise to power to become a feared and powerful warlord. While this movie has the action sequences expected of a movie about Ghenghis Khan it also shows his softer side as a husband and father.
These movies are the best of world cinema, in my humble opinion, this will be a running list as I am always looking for new movies from other parts of the world, I hope this will give people some ideas of good movies to watch if you don't mind subtitles or something a bit out of the norm.
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