"Shiri" is probably the most successful film in South Korea box office history by its blend of thriller action and romance. When the film was released in 1999, it ended up topping the record previously held by "Titanic." This movie set a milestone for South Korea's local film industry to open a new generation of Korean moviemakers transforming and revitalizing the industry on the verge of exploding onto the world stage.
The story is centered around the continuing Cold War tensions between North and South Korea. The film takes its name from a freshwater fish indigenous to the DMZ, the swath of land diving Korea between the democratic South and the communist North. Like the fish which knows no borders or cares little for the rival ideologies on either side of the 38th parallel, writer/director Kang Je-kyu speaks to the hopes of reunification for his divided country. Even though it was released in 1999, the audience will experience the reality of the longing of the Koreans for unification for the past six decades.
"The Wedding Banquet"
This 1993 international hit by Ang Lee is a hilarious and poignant story of a gay Taiwanese-American man who goes to some lengths to fool his visiting family that he is actually straight. The results are far more complicated and entertaining than anyone could have guessed. A wholly delightful comedy of human nature, "The Wedding Banquet" taps into a rich stream of emotion vis-a-vis Ang Lee's light and perceptive touch in a cultural context. The script is designed to work from a single vantage point, that of a Taiwanese director. Only by comprehending the people, the culture and the way in which they behave and respond to the parent-child relationship can Lee modulate each scene such that his cast approaches the brink of parody without tumbling over. Thus "The Wedding Banquet" is not a stereotypically gay picture, but it is a touching story of human decency, humility, pragmatism and hope.
"Shall we Dance?"
"Shall We Dance?" is a 1996 award-winning Japanese film. Its original Japanese title is "Shall We Dansu?" which refers to the earlier 1934 movie "Shall we Dance" starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. But the Japanese version makes clear that it has at least as much to do with social commentary as it does with light steps across a teak floor. Outsiders tend to view Japanese as a nation of repressed people, a stereotype embodied in every way by the main character (played by Sugiyama), an office worker who takes up ballroom dancing after seeing the pretty dance instructor through the window of the dancing studio when he passes it by daily on his commuting train. It was a big secret for his co-workers and especially for his wife because of the perception of ballroom dancing in Japanese society. Sugiyama was someone who had risen to a certain level in his company, but was boxed into common expectations. He found a chance to express himself by following a whim, but he continuously experienced an inner conflict between his longing for freedom and the box society expected him to be in. An amusing comedy of cultural experience and reasoning of why we dance.
"YMCA Baseball Team"
YMCA (Yagudan) is a semi-historical 2002 South Korean comedy film. In 1905, there was a confluence of international events leading to the loss of Chosŏn Korean sovereignty, and by 1910, Japan formally annexed Korea outright. The Japanese, having already defeated Qing China (1895) and signed an alliance with the United Kingdom (1902), defeated Imperial Russia (1905), and signed a secret agreement with the United States (1905) to respect each other's "sphere of influence" in the Pacific. In these chaotic times, an eclectic group of Koreans find refuge in the quintessentially American pastime. The film plays out as a flashback, experienced by a young Korean boy, as he, like his great-great grandfather prepares to play baseball.
"Eat Drink Man Woman"
Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu ) is a 1994 Chinese film that was nominated for an Oscar. A senior Master Chef Chu lives in a large house in Taipei with his three unmarried daughters, Jia-Jen, a chemistry teacher converted to Christianity, Jia-Chien, an airline executive, and Jia-Ning, a student who also works in a fast food restaurant. Life in the house revolves around the ritual of an elaborate dinner each Sunday, and the love lives of all the family members.