Best Movies to Watch for Learning Chinese
Rainy days are always a good time to stay at home and watch a movie. Why not kill two birds with one stone and learn Chinese while you are watching the movie!
More than just entertainment, watching Chinese movies is a great way to learn Chinese. Movies expose you to a more natural language environment, so you can hear authentic vocabulary and slang, but it can be so difficult to find the right movie.
In our series “Watch Movies and Learn Chinese,” we have curated the best Chinese movies that showcase the country. Through these movies, you can learn about topics such as the Chinese New Year travel rush, Chinese cuisine, China’s economy, and dating in China. Not only are these movies highly acclaimed in China, but the dialogue is relatively easy to understand, making them suitable for students studying Chinese. Most of the movies can also be found on YouTube.
Here are our most popular movie reviews! Let’s watch movies and learn Chinese together!
CZ12: « 十二生肖 »
A Movie About Chinese National Treasures
With simple dialogues and a lighthearted story, “CZ12” is a relaxing kung fu comedy film. Not only is it Jackie Chan’s final action movie, it is also a great choice for Chinese learners.
Translation: “As Jackie Chan’s 101st movie, “CZ12”, like other Jackie Chan movies, has ingenious action design and humorous lines that delight viewers. But unlike other Jackie Chan movies, this is Jackie Chan’s last action movie. It is not difficult to imagine the importance that Jackie Chan attached to this movie. He not only directed, wrote, and starred in the movie but also took the cast around the world to film the movie.”
Young Style: « 青春派 »
A Movie About Chinese Youth
This movie is about young love and China’s fiercely competitive college entrance examination.
Translation: “‘Young Style’ is a movie that vividly depicts China’s college entrance examination. After learning about the real lives of Chinese high school students, you may have a more comprehensive understanding, and you can learn some Chinese vocabulary along the way.”
God of Gamblers: « 赌神 »
China’s Top Gambling Movie
Wong Jing, a director from Hong Kong, created this masterpiece about a master gambler. “God of Gamblers” was shot in record time without losing any quality.
Translation: “After a gambling session in Tokyo, Japan, he accepts a friend’s invitation to return to Hong Kong and battle a cunning Singaporean gambling king. At that moment, fate begins to play jokes on this lucky man…”
American Dreams in China: « 中国合伙人 »
A Movie About Chinese Entrepreneurship
This popular movie captures the young Chinese entrepreneurial spirit after the county’s Reform and Opening-up.
Translation: “What is a dream? A dream is something that makes you happy just to keep pursuing.”This is what Cheng Dongqing, the protagonist in the movie “American Dreams in China”, says. This phrase also epitomizes China’s economic boom in the 1990s.”
Raise the Red Lantern: « 大红灯笼高高挂 »
A Film About the System of Concubinage
This acclaimed film, directed by Zhang Yimou, tells the story of a young woman who becomes a concubine of a wealthy man during the 1920s.
Translation: “This sounds like a heartbreaking story, and in reality, it truly is. The director is full of compassion towards women, and therefore in the entire film, most of the scenes are gloomy but are full of a type of ancient oriental beauty. In the process of the female protagonist heading toward her fate, different types of beauty are revealed. As one of director Zhang Yimou’s most remarkable works, you must not miss the beauty of the story and cinematography in this film.”
Nezha: « 哪吒之魔童降世 »
A Dark Horse Movie
“Ne Zha”, a 2019 animated movie that tells the story of a mischievous demon child, was a surprise box office hit.
Translation: “During the summer of 2019, viewers across China were mesmerized by an ugly three-year-old child. There were even entire families who went to movie theaters again and again to watch. To this day, this movie still ranks third in China’s overall box office chart. As an animated movie, it must be said that this is a miracle. This magical animated movie is called ‘Ne Zha.'”
Dying to Survive: « 我不是药神 »
A Different Type of Film About Cancer
“Dying to Survive” reflects on the struggles of Chinese patients in accessing affordable medication.
Translation: “In life, there is bound to be suffering, and laws and systems are bound to have imperfections, but as long as you still have hope in life, you can always find a way to resolve difficulties. Perhaps this is the reason why “Dying to Survive” made audiences cry and was so well received. This is what a good film should look like.”
Blind Massage: « 推拿 »
A Movie About Disability and Love
“Blind Massage” is a story about the love, desires, and frustrations of a group of blind masseurs.
Translation: “Most people are unfamiliar with the lives of disabled people, and China is no different. In Chinese, people who cannot see are called “mángrén”. It is difficult for them to live independently, let alone find a job. Therefore, most of these blind people work as tuī ná practitioners. Massage parlors have therefore become small communities for blind people. “Blind Massage” points the camera at them and tells the audience about the love and hate of blind people.”
Eat Drink Man Woman: « 饮食男女 »
A Movie About Chinese Food Culture
“Eat Drink Man Woman” is a delicious comedy about food and family tensions set in Taipei.
Translation: “As a top chef, Chu has lost his sense of taste. But this is just one of the problems he faces in his large amount of free time. Conflicts with his daughters, how to deal with each others’ emotions, and the continuous contradictions in life. Facing a mundane retirement, Chu says, “Life can’t be like cooking, waiting to put all the ingredients into the pot only after they are prepared.” How will they face each other, and can they learn to understand each other?”
The Farewell: « 别告诉他 »
A Movie About a White Lie
A masterful semi-autobiographical family drama written and directed by Lulu Wang, “The Farewell” tells the story of a grandmother who doesn’t know she is dying.
Translation: “Suppose your grandma was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have much time left. In this situation, what would you do? Tell her the truth and fulfill her last wishes, or deceive her, so she lives on without knowing? “The Farewell” tells such a story. In a Chinese family, how will they choose?”