6. Hansel & Gretel (South Korea, 2007)
One could argue that you know you’re watching Asian horror when creepy children are the source of the evil. Hansel & Gretel has three very creepy children in it, but some of the art direction and set design must have driven continuity staff insane during filming. Lavishly decorated sets provide a great contrast for the evil that lies underneath. The nod to the Brothers Grimm is almost in name only, as only portions of the story could be considered similar to the classic fairytale.
7. Symbol (Japan, 2009)
A man wakes up in a giant white room. Inside this room is nothing except cherub statue penises protruding from the wall which, when touched, make a variety of objects materialize from the walls, ceiling or floor of this white room. Meanwhile, a lucha libre wrestler is preparing for a fight that will either reinvigorate his career, or bring it to its end. The only way to find out how these two events are connected is to watch the film.
Hitoshi Matsumoto served as the writer, director and star of the film which is all the more impressive once you have finished watching it.
8. Dragon Tiger Gate (Hong Kong, 2006)
Based on a comic, Nicolas Tse and Donnie Yen star in this action outing that is nothing short of impressive. Donnie Yen also served as action director for this film and the choreography has scenes you will watch several times over and still be amazed. The story serves its purpose for an action film. Two orphans grew up together, and then walked very different paths through their teen years, reunite to tackle a seemingly insurmountable evil.
Wilson Yip knows how to direct action films and Dragon Tiger Gate stands as one of his most impressive efforts.
9. School in the Crosshairs (Japan, 1981)
Nobuhiko Obayashi’s films contain some of the most bizarre special effects work you’re likely to encounter on screen. School in the Crosshairs follows Yuka, a shy high school girl who has psychic powers. Her school, it seems, is desired to be controlled by an intergalactic being. In order to do so, this intergalactic being possesses another young student who wins the student election and tries imposing a militaristic style regime.
A fascinating, if not underdeveloped critique of the Japanese high school system, the film crescendos with a spectacular showdown between Yuka, the intergalactic being and his grand piano.
10. Hold Up Down (Japan, 2005)
This hilarious crime caper starring members of the Japanese pop group V6 is directed by cult director Sabu. The protagonists’ foolish behavior draws people into their web of idiocy, which plays out like everyone involved is trying to outdo the previous stupid act.
As a result, the film is ludicrous from start to finish, because what should be a simple “bank heist goes wrong” film is delivered with such energy and madness from all parties involved you can’t help but sit back and just enjoy the ride.