Our 13 Favorite Films of 2013: A GTG and Friends Collaboration

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Action. Romance. Thrillers. 2013 brought some awesome movies from these genres and more.

You’re wondering which films this year are worth your time. Of course, the GTG crew has got your back in what we think are some killer films. However this time, we thought it would be cool to do more than give just our opinion on the best movies of the year. Rather, we collaborated with some awesome Asian film sites and came up with a final, combined list. Kind of like Voltron.

In this collaboration, we worked together with the fine folks at:

Japan Cinema

Japan Cinema is all about Asian cinema, anime, and interviews with big personalities within the community. Founded in 2009, the site has had its own magazine, has collaborated with big hitters such as FUNimation, and interviewed over 200 artists and musicians.
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SumGyeoJin Gem

“Sumgyeojin” means “hidden” or “undiscovered”. This is what SumGyeoJin Gem does: finding hidden gems in both Korean cinema and music. They want the world to know that, yes, there’s more to Korea than just PSY (although he’s cool too).
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Asian Movie Pulse

Asian Movie Pulse covers movies from all over Asia. Each of their reviews has a score, a trailer, and a general recommendation whether to watch the said film or not. With news and interviews, they really have all their bases covered within the Asian movie realm.
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We’re extremely honored to have worked with these Asian pop culture sites. Do check them out when you have the chance, as we’re sure you’ll learn a thing or eight about Asian cinema. I know we sure did!

The films on this list are not listed in any particular order. No matter which order the movies show up on the list, we feel they represent the strongest films 2013 has to offer in East Asia.

Without further adieu, let’s introduce Our 13 Favorite Films of 2013.

Stoker


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Stoker

Countries:USA, UK
Genres:Thriller
Director:Park Chan-wook
Keywords:Psychological, Family,
Awakening, Murder
Contributed by:Japan Cinema

Trivia

  • Sure, this is a Western film, but we can include it in this list because it’s helmed by director Park Chan-wook, the man who traumatized the world with 2003 Korean film Oldboy.
  • Stoker contains many references and parallels to the work of Alfred Hitchcock, particularly Shadow of a Doubt.
  • The title may seem like a reference to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but the story is not about vampires at all.


The plot is daring and engaging from start to finish. Props all around, to everyone involved, because this film is virtually flawless in its exposé. I walked out of the cinema a bit breathless because WOW; this film is pure audiovisual poetry.

Contributed by
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Hope


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Hope

Original title:소원
Countries:Korea
Genres:Drama
Director:Lee Joon-Ik
Keywords:Family, Trauma,
Sexual Assault, Recovery
Contributed by:SumGyeoJin Gem

Trivia

  • Hope won the award for Best Film at the Blue Dragon Film Awards, one of the biggest awards shows in Korea.
  • The Korean title of the film is pronounced So Won, which not only translates to “Wish”, but is also the name of the daughter.


This year, the scenes from Hope (also known by its literal English translated title, Wish) automatically pushed the button to let the tears fall from my eyes. Almost half of my tissue box was gone due to the continuous wiping of my tears. There were times between the emotional scenes in which I needed to rest from crying. When I watched the second time, the same pattern of crying still happened. Director Lee Joon-Ik sets the script with great fluidity without leaving any gaps while focusing on each character’s point of view about So Won’s abduction and rape.

Although the main focus is on So Won’s development in getting over the terrified issue that she has been through, Director Lee also connects with other characters as they are not only supporting the girl but also helping each other out. Hope will make you emotionally drained but Director Lee has done accordingly on how the storyline and scenes is slowly build-up while being steady with the balance of different emotions from both characters and scenarios of post-traumatic event.

Contributed by
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Drug War


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Drug War

Original title:毒戰
Countries:Hong Kong, China
Genres:Crime, Action
Director:Johnnie To
Keywords:Drugs, Police,
Rat, Gangsters
Contributed by:Asian Movie Pulse

Trivia

  • Drug War premiered at the 2012 Rome Film Festival five months before its April 2013 Mainland China release.
  • This is director Johnnie To’s first film to be shot and set entirely in Mainland China


Drug War was initially set to be released in 2012 but didn’t fully make it to the market until the first quarter of 2013. Before it’s wide release, the film was shown at the 2012 Rome Film Festival.

Johnnie To’s latest film is every bit as good as we were expecting. Now unlike previous To films, in which he explores his love for Hong Kong with beautiful cinematography (Sparrow, Election), Drug War is shot entirely in Mainland China.

Drug War felt very much like a To experiment, an experiment which we believe was successful. It also did not feel like a typical To film, which is actually a huge plus in our eyes.

It’s great to see a director take risks and be even more creative with their art – after all that is what filmmaking is all about. Drug War, whilst not really feeling like a To film still had enough To elements interwoven – a true testimonial to the creative talent of Johnnie To. Despite its subject matter Drug War is not an overly action-packed film, but instead is a very well-paced movie with great character development, a fascinating script and a wonderfully explosive ending.

Easily one of our highlights of 2013.

Contributed by
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Silent Witness


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Silent Witness

Original title:全民目击
Countries:China
Genres:Crime, Mystery
Director:Fei Xing
Keywords:Murder, Courtroom,
Cover-Up, Lies
Contributed by:Green Tea Graffiti

Trivia

  • The Chinese title of Silent Witness can be translated to “Observed by the Entire Public”. Fitting, as not only are the public watching the trial, but the courtroom drama is shown to be broadcast over the Internet.
  • Yu Nan, who plays defense attorney Zhou Li, has made her rounds in Hollywood in 2012′s The Expendables 2.
  • Director Fei Xing also served as the writer.


Bringing style and intensity to the courtroom is Silent Witness. Written and directed by Fei Xing, the film is in actuality his second feature-length film, which makes anyone who has seen this film excited to see what else he will create in the future.

The film’s biggest strength is its leads. Aaron Kwok plays the intense prosecutor, while Yu Nan plays the cool-headed and calculating defense attorney. However, it’s actually the villain, Sun Honglei’s cunning and scheming business tycoon, who steals the show. The three amazing characters work together to tell a tale that creatively bounces between each of their points of view, in a non-linear story that will keep your eyes wide and breath held.

Silent Witness will remind gamers of the popular Ace Attorney video game series, another courtroom drama. Like the games, the film’s story features not only charismatic characters (as if we couldn’t mention them enough), but a story that will lead you in circles until the very end.

And trust us when we say: “That ending….Wow”.

Contributed by
gtg



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