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10 Best Chinese Movies of 2019

November 14, 2019
9 min read

China is not only one of the biggest producers of films but also serves as a market with unlimited potential. Its impact on international cinema is undeniable, especially when it comes to action movies. It has also produced some of the biggest movie stars in the world and is the house of some of the finest filmmakers. Every year, it gets more influential and the scale of its films gets bigger. If you need proof of this, you only need to look at the films released in 2019.

Sweeping off the box-office, both in domestic and foreign markets, Chinese films have it all. There are indie hits that serve food for the soul, and there are blockbusters that are all about entertainment. Here is the list of best Chinese films of 2019 that you must watch:

Honorable Mentions:

Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past (2019)

‘Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past’ follows the story of two bear brothers- Briar and Bramble. They had enough adventures in their own time, but an accident throws them back in the past where they encounter a world that is nothing like theirs. Their only familiar face in this foreign time is Vick, but even he is baffled by their situation. As they try to find a way out of this, they have to deal with the animals of the times bygone and have to learn to live in their world in case their return scheme never works out.

Looking Up (2019)

Have you ever been in a situation, good or bad, where you reflected back at your entire life and wondered about the journey and the people that got you there? ‘Looking Up’ follows the story of an astronaut who is stuck in space, and in the moment of his crisis looks back at the things that got him there. The film chronicles his journey- from a difficult childhood where his family was ostracised, and the unrelenting faith of his father who pushed him to follow his dreams. All the good and the bad bundles up into one and he wonders what he could have given up in all of it?

10. Song of Youth (2019)

Though the title of this movie gets lost in translation (its literal meaning is Hello, teacher!), ‘Song of Youth’ is very much about young years and the things and people that are influential during this time. The story begins with a teacher, exhibiting hard exterior but soft and sentimental on the inside, who is assigned to teach a class full of unruly children. His job is to get them to study, and if not that, then at least to discipline them. The film follows the teacher’s efforts to understand his students before passing any judgement on them or rectifying their behaviour. Meanwhile, we also get to see the world from the perspective of young minds.

9. Jinpa (2019)

Everyone we meet in our life serves a purpose in furthering our journey towards the destined goal. All the good, as well as the bad, happens for a reason. Jinpa, a simple truck driver, believes the same. He doesn’t give much thought to anything because there is barely anything to think about in his perfectly dull life. One day, he runs over a sheep, and soon after that, gives a ride to a hitchhiker who is out to kill someone. Though Jinpa tries not to meddle in someone else’s affairs, especially when there is revenge involved, he can’t help but wonder if the death of the sheep was an omen he should heed.

8. The New King of Comedy (2019)

Stephen Chow is best known for making comedy movies like ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and ‘Kung Fu Hustle’, but before them, he co-directed and starred in ‘King of Comedy’. This 1999 film follows the story of a young man who works as an extra and wants to break into the cinematic world as a leading actor. The film drew inspiration from his own life and was a great hit in China. Two decades later, he remade the film, this time, working only behind the camera. ‘The New King of Comedy’ comes in with a new set of characters and a shift in the storyline, synced with contemporary struggles of actors. The protagonist this time is a woman named Ru Meng, who is waiting for the opportunity to show the full potential of her talent.

7. Pegasus (2019)

Youth is full of dreams and aspirations, but as we become old, we have to let go of our hopes, some, if not all. Zhang Chi had to do the same for his racing career. Now, he half-heartedly tends to his fried rice stall, watching the younger people flourish in a career that he once was the star of. Now, he neither has a car nor the money to afford it. Above all, he doesn’t even have a valid driver’s license. All of this wouldn’t have mattered had he kept to his current situation. But something inside him spurs him into getting back into the racing world because he is utterly unimpressed by the new talent. However, before he can jump back, he needs to clear the basic hurdles.

6. The Legend of Hei (2019)

Based on a web series of the same name, ‘The Legend of Hei’ is another animated movie to rake in a lot of money. It is one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, and most of the credit for its success goes to the dedicated fanbase that the series, ‘The Legend of LuoXiaoHei’ has amassed for itself. The fantasy feature focuses on the titular character Xiao Hei. The cat takes the form of a human, hoping that it would make life easier for him. However, his home is the jungle, where he would roam free in his true form. But human encroachment and the reduction of the forest cover prevents him from doing so, and he is forced to move to the city and figure out the human lifestyle.

5. White Snake (2019)

The Legend of the White Snake is a well-known Chinese legend which has been adapted for movies and TV shows a number of times. The fable follows the story of fantastical creatures, their quest for immortality, the difficulties in their path, and their relationships with mortals that define their final decisions. ‘White Snake’ is based on one of those characters. At the centre of the story if Blanca, a snake spirit who walks the mortal world as a human. She has lost her memory and doesn’t remember her true identity. In the middle of it, she falls in love with a human. Turns out, he is actually a snake hunter. Though Blanca doesn’t realise the nature of their animosity, her love life angers her sister Verta, who is a green snake demon.

4. Dead Pigs (2019)

For something new to rise, something old has to go away. The path has to be cleared for modernity, and the aged system of things has to be sacrificed for the greater good. But can we truly synonymise modernity with good? Is everything new necessarily better than the thing that it replaces? In a sharp commentary to this concept, ‘Dead Pigs’ presents the story of a group of people who are trying to save their own, some at the cost of others. This comedy-drama takes the audience on a hilarious journey but doesn’t leave them without some truly confounding things to ponder upon. And it all begins with dead pigs in a river.

3. So Long, My Son (2019)

Fortune doesn’t shine the same on everyone. While some people get the brighter side, others have to continuously fight the darkness in order to get some meagre shred of fulfilment. ‘So Long, My Son’ follows the stories of two families over the course of three decades. Liu Yaojun and Wang Liyun have a son, named Xingxing, and Shen Yingming and Li Haiyan’s son is called Haohao. Despite both the families starting out in similar conditions and in the same town, things don’t work equally well for them. To begin with, Xingxing drowns while playing with Haohao, which spoils the relationship of the families. Told in a non-chronological order, the story gives us more insights into their lives and what effect it has on their relationship.

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2. The Farewell (2019)

Is it mercy to tell someone that the clock on their life has begun to tick faster? Should the truth about someone’s imminent death be hidden from them? Billi struggles with these questions when she discovers that her grandmother has been diagnosed with a terminal disease but her family has decided to keep it a secret from her. For everyone to meet the grandmother and say their goodbyes without her actually knowing about it, a wedding is scheduled. As everyone tries to keep the lie to themselves, Billi wonders about the morality of the situation, while settling on the issues in her life as well.

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1. Ne Zha (2019)

‘Ne Zha’ is a fantasy animated-feature, which is the first of its kind to be submitted for Academy Awards. The film opened to good reviews, but it was its exceptional performance at the box office that truly set its name as one of the best Chinese films of the year. The plot of the film is inspired by a classic Chinese novel, ‘The Investiture of the Gods’. It builds intricate mythology and works up a compelling tale. The part that ‘Ne Zha’ focuses on is this. There is a spirit bead and a demon bead. The beads incarnate as humans, from time to time. So, there is always a hero and a villain. Ne Zhe is destined to be the possessor of the spirit bead, but due to some intervention on fate’s part, becomes devil incarnate. Who will save the world from him now?

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