Wednesday, June 13, 2007

10 Films that Made Me Cry...十個令我哭泣的影像...十本泣かさせた映画

Some films which profoundly touched me, all of which either made me teary-eyed or made me cry from my heart.........
1. You are my Sunshine (2005)

Starring the new (and only the 2nd Asian actress) winner of the Cannes Best Actress Award this year, the ever enigmatic Jeon Do-yeon as a prostitute and her romance with a farmer in rural Korea. At once beautiful and yet deeply harrowing film allowing the audiences an insight into prostitution practices, HIV, and abusive relationships in South Korea, themes which find common ground everywhere in the world. Very traumatising to watch at times but absolutely necessary i feel, given the important issues that it raises in what is essentially a conventional commercial film using conventional film techniques...cried twice when watching, always a good sign that its a good emotional genre film..


2. Maundy Thursday (2006)

I was highly anticipating this film, not least the fact that it had two of my favourite Korean stars, the forever Korean classic Lee Na-young (I'm a HUGE FAN of her...would watch almost any film she is in, she is just one of THE most beautiful and stunning woman i've seen, and her roles are always good.) and Kang Dong-won (simply love his sleepy eyes and 'moody look').

I wasn't dissapointed and i was expecting to cry even before i watched the film given how i can kinda predict what kind of storylines are very likely to make me cry and this was definitely one of them.

The story, like many Korean films, is not particularly refreshing or remarkably innovative, but like most Korean films, they are just very good at doing what they do best, which is delving into the human and emotional side of life and tugging at your heart, manipulating your feelings so well that you just gotta cry...Basically, Kang is wrongly accused of raping and murdering two women and is on death row. A suicidal Lee, whom is a yesteryear star has attempted suicide several times already. She is filled with deep anger at herself, at the world, and it seems most of all, at her mother. After having tried to commit suicide but failed for the third time, she is asked by her aunt, a nun, to accompany her to her weekly visits to the high security prison for visiting death row inmates attempting to convert them to Christianity before they are put to death. At first, Lee is totally uninterested. But then slowly, and surely, she forms a kind of bond, a connection with Kang, as we learn the truth of his crime, Lee's past, and her source of anger, as well as the inevitable ending that we all know is coming.

Very thought-provoking film in that it deals with a man whom is afraid to die and wants so badly to live, to be given another chance in life, but whom is condemned to death, and a woman whom is so angry and whom has lost the will to live seeking only to end her life....You won't regret watching this film.

3. 200 Pound Beauty (2006)

This was a surprise huge box office hit in 2006 which catapulted the main actress, Kim Ah-Jung, to stardom. Its about this heavily overweight girl whom has a fantastic voice. However, due to her appearance, she can only hide backstage singing the songs of a hot sexy famous singer whom can't sing and has a real attitude problem. The overweight girl, Hana, is in love with the hunk producer, but dares not express her love due to her appearance. One day she overhears him telling the famous singer whom hates Hana that she should be happy she is not Hana and that they were just using her to get money. Hana was about to commit suicide but then a phone call arrives and she decides to get a complete makeover by going under the knife. This is a typical commercial flick with an average story but it somehow managed to capture the hearts of S.Korean movie-goers. I think it is successful as it brings out the insecurities women have about their looks, as well as is a reminder of the superficiality of beauty and society's obsession with it. I loved it!

4.Taegukki (2004)

I liked this film as it was a very emotional and intimate film about war. In fact, it really isn't even a 'war film' in the typical sense of the word. It was more an emotional epic about family, the extent to which one would sacrifice for family, for a brother, the love and brotherhood between two brothers and also, ultimately, the devastation that was wrought upon Korea and millions of Korean families during the Korean War. Very emotional film, cried at the very end even though i was telling myself not to, not to be such a cry baby...the scene of the older brother having bought the shoes and putting it in the wardrobe and then being found simply ignited my floodgates and i cried so hard it was like my own relative had died....haha..

5. Oh! My Three Guys (1993)

This is actually an exception to all the films that i've listed here in that it is actually an average film with a poor ending and so-so storyline if it were not for one of the stories which was just soooo powerful and tugs at your heart so much that i would recommend you all to watch it if only for one of the stories in the film.

I've introduced this film before under my 'Nolstalgic Hong Kong Films Review' series so i will keep it short. Basically about three gay men in early 90s Hong Kong, their lives, loves, and tribulations. The only story that stands out and is to this day, out of the many gay themed films i've seen, still one of the most powerful gay stories i've ever seen on screen, is the story by Eric Kot, the flamboyant gay. He is rejected by his father for being gay, contracts AIDS and.....well, there is a really, and i mean really, emotional scene, after he learns he has HIV...although Eric Kot's character was not the main character, with Lau Ching Wan playing the main character, the HK Film Awards Jury were obviously as impressed and moved by his performance as a HIV positive gay man that they nominated him not for Best Supporting Actor but for Best Actor in 1994. Still one of the best gay-themed stories i've seen so far after all these just have to ignore the other two stories:)

past post :

6. Hotel Rwanda (2005)

Oscar-nominated 'Hotel Rwanda' recounts the days of genocide and havoc as Rwanda gets overtaken by hatred and evil based on true events in 1994. The world watched silently as the genocide unfolded eventually killing up to 800,000 people within a year before it finally ended. The UN and Western powers refused to act or even call it a genocide until it was over: Rwanda was a nation without valuable resources such as gold or iron, nothing 'worth risking white lives' for.

This film specifically centres on the true story of a Rwandan manager of a foreign owned luxury hotel whom harbored and saved thousands of lives by bribing and buying time from the military who was also responsible for the genocide. Very worthwhile watching to know about the 1994 Rwandan i was watching the film, it once again reminded me of the inhumanity that human beings can unleash on fellow human beings...Nanking, Holocaust, Bosnia, Darfur,etc...the same murders, the same rapes, and the same tortures.
7. Romance of their Own (2004)

One of the best Korean films of the 'highschool girl love fairytale' genre....i cried so much at the ending...i'm serious, i was just so touched by the ending when the script gave such an emotional punch that i could feel my teargates bursting open by the ending and i cried even more when the credits started rolling( you'll know y when u watch it) was sooooo sad and heart-aching...however don't expect something fundamentally deep about the story, its a typical commercial highschool girl kind of romance story....but a very good one at that!

The girl in this story is your typical insecure average looking highschool girl. However, she finds out that the coolest and hunkiest guy in school has a serious crush on her and keeps wooing her. Then steps in her half-brother whom she hasn't met in many years(i'm not sure if they have blood relations as i can't rem, I saw this around two yrs ago....but he is definitely the illegitimate son of her father i think)...he is none other than the cute Kang Don Won with his sulky moody eyes and aura...he also falls in love with starts the rivalry between them over her (gosh i just love these typical korean love stories where the plain girl gets to pick two different 'types' of men, though equally desirable, whom fawns over them....the ending is so sad, it seriously made my heart ache...and the theme song is one of the saddest (in light of the storyline) and most memorable i've ever heard in a film. Highly worthwhile!!!

8. Like a Virgin (2006)
This was nominated and i think won an award at the Korean Film Awards. It was a very good and interesting film bringing together two seemingly contradictory topics, traditional Korean wrestling, a masculine sport, and transgenderism, which is commonly associated with the feminine.
I didn't cry in this film but i will introduce it since i think its a good film and i did feel tears welling up at one point.

The film deals with an area which many of us have heard of and have a superficial knowledge of but don't know much about, that is: transgendered people, transsexuals. I must admit i wasn't really interested in this area despite my interests in gay and lesbian issues. I think i'm not the only one to ignore the whole trangendered area right? Sometimes we focus so much on gay and lesbians nowadays that we may have marginalised trangendered people whom face more discrimination than gays and lesbians. Well this film deals with many of the issues facing a transgendered person, in this case, a guy whom joins a traditional korean wrestling competition in order to win the grand prize which is just enough to cover his intended sex-reassignment surgery turning him into a 'complete woman'.

...and by the way, the title of the film comes from Madonna's song 'Like a Virgin'.

9. The Legendary Princesses (TV Drama- 2006)

This is actually a TV drama by KBS and its damn good!! Its freakin long, like 80 eps which means over 80 hours but it surprisingly manages to keep audiences glued to the tv box winning over 40% in audience ratings at its peak. (For ur reference, normally an average Korean drama gets around 20 to 30% and good ones b/w 30 to 40% but really big hits get over 40% in viewer rating.)
I actually cried TWICE throughout the drama, both times not bcos of love but due to the biggest key point (for me personally) which was its focus on the family and family relations, either between the parents and the 4 daughters, the relationship between the sisters, the daughters and their in-laws, the mother and her mother (the mother was such a role model figure for me, i just loved her fiesty protective attitude, not ur traditional quiet wife...and the scenes between the mother and her own mother proved to be one of the most touching ones in the whole series.

Really worthwhile watching given that it did make me cry twice and i rarely cry in Korean dramas, however much i like them...after 80 hrs of korean drama, u can even pick up more than a few words of korean:)

10. Grave of the Fireflies (2005)

This was a TV Movie on Nippon TV broadcast as a special movie in 2005 commemorating the 60th Anniv. of the end of WW2. It is based on the infamous Japanese anime tearjearker of the same name 'Hotaru no Haka' produced in 1988.

I actually liked the movie better than the anime, but that could be my own bias as i dislike all kinds of anime and cartoons and further, many ppl liked the original better.

The story is set in the closing days of WW2 in Japan centering on an elder brother in his mid-teens and his younger sister and their aunt with her own children to look after. After their father is sent off to war and their mother dies in an American air-raid, the two siblings go to live with the aunt but not all goes well as the war situation worsens and increasing rations and air-raids, by 1945, accompany their lives and millions of other children and civilians in Japan.

I didn't cry in this film but i was close to tears...its THE best Japanese drama film i've seen so far and the Japanese in my eyes are so lame and crappy when it comes to love stories and tearjerkers that the fact that this film made me teary-eyed took me by surprise...

The film deals with the theme of war and what it means to be living during wartime. It explores human nature and our will to survive at all costs, as well as the impact of war on the human spirit, character, and humanity. There was one scene which left me with the most lasting impression when the aunt told the brother something after she brought him bck from the police station for stealing during an air-raid. The words were really hard-hitting and brutally harsh and made me think about the nature of human beings and our will to survive...i won't spoil the plot but do watch this film....the ending where they jutaxposed images in blck and white of the siblings with current images of children in the forever raging war in Palestine underlines the message that although the story was fiction, millions of children continue to live with war everyday even today was really the icing on the cake, and just went that extra mile in putting this film a class above the rest. I was certainly impressed that they had made the connection b/w children in wartime Japan and modern-day children in Palestine by including footages of Palestinian children at the end cos it was something completely unexpected..well worth watching..............You won't regret it.

Official Website (in Japanese):


Sam said...

I absolutely loved Taegukgi. That was one of the movies that made me cry definitely.

And Crash. Also another one.

Day After Tomorrow.

And 28 Weeks Later.

Yes, I know - I'm weird. :P

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

sam: You aren't weird lar..i loved Crash as well...though my housemate said that there were too many coincidences in there..but i liked it anyway:)

hari deepak said...

"taegukgi" in my opinion was a movie very different from conventional korean movies and the war scenes were fantastic the last scene in which jin tae is shot and killed as a communist is both gut wrenching and is an emotional masterpiece.

"hotel rwanda" by contrast was more dry and slower paced but it was very realistic....

And graveyard of fireflies was very touching and depressing at the same time....

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

hari deepak: Nice to see you back here:) I couldn't agree more with you:)

gorgutz headhunter said...

you could add Zhang Yimou's "To Live" to the fabled list of yours.

P.S. people interested in gothic stuff can visit my blog

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

gh: I have seen Zhang Yimou's "To Live" its pretty good!