Master Mandarin With Five Amazing Movies

Everyone likes to take a break from the books. One of the best ways to keep learning without taxing your brain too much is to watch a movie. Don’t worry, a little relaxation won’t hurt. And after all, what’s the use of learning Chinese without learning a bit about Chinese culture too? Here are five of China’s best films:

1. 十七岁的单车 (Shíqīsuì de dānchē) Beijing Bicycle

Beijing Bicycle

Like so many countries, China loves drama. This film tells the story of Guei, a young countryside boy who loses his bike in Beijing and goes looking for it. Along the way he meets another boy at a thrift market attempting to buy the bike. This classic film explores boyhood, relationships, and social issues in China. Highly recommended.

2. 卧虎藏龙 (Wò hǔ cáng lóng) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

You’ve probably heard of this renowned martial arts masterpiece from director Ang Lee. If you haven’t, where have you been? Two warriors and a fugitive in search of a mysterious sword encounter a young and preternaturally skilled nobleman’s daughter on their quest. Fighting ensues.

3. 末代皇帝 (Mòdài huángdì) The Last Emperor

The Last Emperor

An epic tale of the last Chinese emperor before China’s transition to communist rule. This movie racked up all nine Academy Awards that it was nominated for, and for good reason. The Last Emperor is a landmark film that recounts a story little known in the West, and it’s a visual feast unlike any other.

4. 霸王别姬 (Bàwáng bié jī) Farewell My Concubine

Farewell My Concubine

Yet another magnificent epic that gained heaps of praise worldwide. The Last Emperor covers the transition to communist rule, and Farewell My Concubine explores the effects of this harrowing moment in time on the people of China. It focuses on the relationship between two men who are part of a traveling Peking opera troupe. Farewell My Concubine is renowned for its deft portrayal of the two men’s relationship, which takes a variety of forms as time passes.

5. 三峡好人 (Sānxiá hǎorén) Still Life

Still Life

This poignant, patient film explores the repercussions of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on two lost souls. They return to a community being deconstructed to make way for the new dam, each in search of their estranged spouses. With this director Jia Zhangke offered up a social commentary few in China couldn’t relate to in one way or another. And it’s still relevant a decade later.
So get learning and get watching!

More movies with easy-to-understand Mandarin Chinese:
Chinese films you must watch this summer
大内密探零零狗 (dànèi mìtàn Líng Líng Gǒu) A Spy Called Ling Ling Gou in the Imperial Palace
Chinese Movie: 人在囧途 Lost on Journey

— Written by Jennifer Zhu —
Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”

1 thought on “Master Mandarin With Five Amazing Movies”

  1. A great great help to be introduced to so important Chinese films. Very interesting and helpful Chinese learning- thank you

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top