Foreign movies get a bad rap. Really, who wants to spend three hours reading the subtitled dialogue of well-dressed Europeans staring at things longingly? That should suck, right?
Well, yeah, it does.
But to say that all foreign movies are boring is like saying all science fiction is dumb – sure, those Syfy Channel originals are bad, but that doesn’t change the fact that Alien, Star Wars and the first Matrix movie are pretty cool. Foreign movies are the same way – if you sift through enough, you can find some real gems. Here’s your guide to the five foreign directors who you absolutely need to give a shot:
Jean Pierre Melville Don’t let the French name turn you off, Melville made some awesome crime thrillers in the 60s and 70s that are still pretty great today. Usually starring the impossibly cool Alain Delon – think Cary Grant crossed with Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop – movies like The Red Circle and Le Samourai set the standard when it comes to cerebral, aesthetically interesting crime movies, and Melville’s work influenced tons of modern directors like Quentin Tarantino and John Woo. In fact, Woo was such a fan that his 1989 classic The Killer is a loose re-imagining of Melville’s Le Samourai. Which brings us to our next director…
John Woo If you don’t love Face/Off, you can just turn in your man card right now. Mission Impossible II was ok, and most people know that the bullet time and dual-pistols of The Matrix was inspired by him. However, what most people don’t know is that The Killer, Hard Boiled, A Better Tomorrow, and A Better Tomorrow II are four of the best action movies ever made. Done in Hong Kong in the late 80s on some pretty cheap budgets, these movies have some of the best shootouts you’ll ever see. Don’t believe me? Go on YouTube and search for The Killer and shootout. But first check out…
Wong Kar Wai It sucks, but every guy at some point goes through heartbreak. Some girl doesn’t like you, a relationship doesn’t work out, or you’re just generally miserable without much explanation. Wong Kar Wai, another veteran of the late 80’s Hong Kong movie boom, has made some of the most visually amazing movies of all time, and 90’s masterpieces like Chungking Express and Fallen Angels do an amazing job of capturing the excitement and energy of youth. If you’re a bit older and more melancholy, dramas like In The Mood For Love just might touch you in a place you never thought a movie could touch you.
Chan Wook Park Another Asian director, Park is the director of cutting edge thrillers and mysteries like Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and the 2009 vampire movie, Thirst. His movies get a bit violent, but is that really a bad thing?
Luc Besson Frenchman Besson is the guy who directed Leon the Professional and is one of the original minds behind both La Femme Nikita and The Transporter. The dude just has it, and most of the things he’s been involved with – check his filmography on Wikipedia - have been at the very least watchable. If you want to try a movie in his native French, you can’t go wrong with Angel-A, a great black and white movie about a criminal and his guardian angel that stars one-armed French comedian Jamel Debbouze and this uber-tall blonde Danish girl who looks like a somehow hotter Rebecca Romijn in her prime.