The Best Foreign Films On Netflix That You Need To See
Netflix is known to have a vast library of movies and television, but have you really gone deep into their films to expand your horizons. Some of the best films on Netflix happen to be foreign films. They take you out of your normal entertainment sensibilities, and they transport you into different cultures to experience something outside of what you expect.
I decided to dive into some of the best foreign films on Netflix. They range from a zombie outbreak, to genocide documentary, to an ancient Chinese war epic. I think you’ll find all of these movies worth the watch.
Train to Busan
This is the zombie film that World War Z wanted to be. I’m sure most of you are sick of the zombie genre by now, but I suggest you give this film a viewing. It’s the very definition of nail biting, edge of your seat action. Imagine you were on a train where each compartment was being overwhelmed. Will you make it to your destination before they hit your cabin?What is waiting at your location?
Premise: A man (Gong Yoo), his estranged daughter and other passengers become trapped on a speeding train during a zombie outbreak in South Korea.
In 2002, this film came out of nowhere and blew me away. It’s like an ancient Chinese war film that feels like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Jet Li proves he is one of the best martial artist actors in the game. The fight choreography, along with gorgeous visuals, will make you recommend this film to any fan of ancient history and war. Sure there are things that are completely impossible in the film, but where would the fun be if that wasn’t added?
Premise: In ancient China, before the reign of the first emperor, warring factions throughout the Six Kingdoms plot to assassinate the most powerful ruler, Qin. When a minor official defeats Qin’s three principal enemies, he is summoned to the palace to tell Qin the story of his surprising victory.
The Look of Silence
A sequel to The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence continues the horrific tales of the Indonesian genocide that took place in the 1965 purge of Communists. The courage of the man in the film to look into the faces of the men who killed his brother during the purge is powerful. I’m not sure I could just sit there and look at the people who committed such atrocities without flipping out on them.
I suggest watching the first film before this one, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t. That will just add to the knowledge learned in this film about a genocide that the West never really hears about.
Premise: An Indonesian man with a communist background named Ramli was brutally murdered when the “Communist” purge occurred in 1965. His remaining family members lived in fear and silence until the making of this documentary. Adi, a brother of his, decided to revisit the horrific incident and visited the men who were responsible for the killings and one survivor of the purge. These meetings uncovered sadistic details of the murders and exposed raw emotions and reactions of the killers’ family members about what happened in the past – much to Adi’s disappointment
Have you ever seen those Hitler memes where Hitler is sitting at his desk, his military leaders are giving him bad news, and then Hitler flips out on them? This is the movie that created those memes. However, that barely covers this movie. It follows Hitler’s, well, downfall at the hands of the allies. He’s clearly in denial that he lost the war, and everyone is still so afraid of him that they let him believe it… until that one scene where they finally have to break the nose that Berlin is falling.
In some ways, the film actually humanizes Hitler, which will cause you, the viewer, to feel weird about feeling bad for a person who help led to millions of people getting murdered by genocide and by the horror of war.
Premise: In April of 1945, Germany stands at the brink of defeat with the Soviet Armies closing in from the west and south. In Berlin, capital of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler proclaims that Germany will still achieve victory and orders his Generals and advisers to fight to the last man.
The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
America tried its hand at making The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, but it barely made its money back. Before that was made, three movies were made from the three books in the series. Each film managed to capture the film’s themes to an accuracy that might make you feel uncomfortable.
Led by the outstanding performance by Noomi Rapace and Mikael Blomkvist, these three films are a near perfect trilogy of film. You’ll come to appreciate both of their work more in English films after watching these.
Premise: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist has been convicted of libelling billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström and wants to escape the media attention. He is hired by industrial tycoon Henrik Vanger under the guise of writing a biography of Henrik and the Vanger family, while really investigating the 36-year-old disappearance of Henrik’s niece Harriet. He teams up with the introverted and skilled computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.
Oldboy is the gold standard of Korean cinema. It spins unexpected storytelling with action that doesn’t need guns to be action packed. The hallway scene will no doubt convince you that many of the Netflix Marvel TV series try to recreate it.
The film starts off as a mystery film that delves into a horror film with a twist at the end that M. Night. Shyamalan only dreams he could dream up. A remake was made in America directed by Spike Lee, but it only managed to make people go back and watch the original again to get the bad taste out of their mouth. Oh, and speaking of taste in your mouth, there is one or 2 scenes in this film that will make you cover your mouth in horror. The main character really does eat that.
Premise: An average man is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shabby cell for 15 years without explanation. He then is released, equipped with money, a cellphone and expensive clothes. As he strives to explain his imprisonment and get his revenge, Oh Dae-Su soon finds out that his kidnapper has a greater plan for him and is set onto a path of pain and suffering in an attempt to uncover the motive of his mysterious tormentor.
The odd thing about this film is that it’s filmed so realistically, you might actually start believing in trolls. I know that sounds absurd, and that the only trolls in real life are those on Twitter and YouTube, but Troll Hunter manages to make you think a little bit about what we don’t know about nature.
But then again, there aren’t 50-foot trolls wandering around the planet. It would be a lot cooler if there were. Camping trips would be that much more fun… or terrifying. Probably terrifying.
Premise: A group of students investigates a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.
When it comes to foreign monster movies, there’s no doubt you’ve either seen or at least heard of the film The Host. In came out in 2006 and was named on numerous film critic’s top 10 lists. A monster movie has to be impressive to win over critic’s with a monster movie. Once you see the movie, you will understand why this film got the received the accolades it did. Hell, I can’t even look at the lake by my house without periodically thinking about the monster in this movie.
Premise: A monster emerges from Seoul’s Han River and focuses its attention on attacking people. One victim’s loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.
The Flowers of War
The Rape of Nanking is easily one of the most disgusting and vile things to happen in recent human history. Japan invaded China and started meticulous murdering, raping, and killing men, women and children. If you think of something horrible in war, the Japanese did it and they did a lot of it. People in Japan even followed a contest between two Japanese soldiers about which one of them will reach 100 decapitations with their swords.
Though this film is fictional, it does have mostly true elements about the Sino-Japanese war. These things may not have happened in this story, but it’s probable that they happened to others in the city. The story of Nanking is so bad that people sought help from John Rabe (a Nazi working in Nanking) in a safe zone to be protected. I suggest watching this, then reading more about it. It’s so touchy that the Japanese now still deny a lot of the atrocities.
Premise: In 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John (Christian Bale) arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival, he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.