17 Cult Films from Southeast Asia Too Entertaining To Be Missed

9. Terror is a Man (1959)

Terror is a Man (1959)

Plot: A mad scientist is experimenting in order to create new life, and does so by turning a panther into a human.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: The lighting and directing are both excellent- especially for a low budget B-movie. The lighting almost resembles 1950s film noir; which is something you wouldn’t expect to see in a B horror movie.

Final Result: The film that kicked off the Filipino horror movement! If this film should be remembered for anything, then it should be remembered as the film that started it all. Terror is a Man is often seen as one of the first Filipino horror/ exploitation films, thanks to director Gerardo de León and producer Eddie Romero, both pivotal figures to Filipino filmmaking.

While the film might be a slow burn, it does paint the monster in the movie to be a sympathetic, almost tragic figure. Terror is a man certainly makes for a monster movie that is a bit more interesting than most 50s monster movies.


10. Merantau (2009)

Merantau (2009)

Plot: A young man going into the city stumbles across a human trafficking ring after rescuing a woman.

Country: Indonesia

Best Part: Gareth Evans behind the directing chair is excellent. The action sequences are just fantastic due to Evans’ focused direction. This movie is unlike most action movies that rely on shaky camera and quick edits.

Final Result: An underrated martial arts film that has been eclipsed by the director’s next films. Merantau introduced director Gareth Evans to the world, as well as the Indonesian martial arts style known as Pencak Silat. While The Raid and The Raid 2 might seem like obvious choices when talking about Indonesian action films, Merantau is a bit more underrated and deserves some more recognition.

This is due to the film’s strong plot and action sequences; even though it does pail when compared to The Raid 2. Most notably, Merantau has frequent Evans collaborator Iko Uwais and his unbelievable fight choreography, and Iko is fantastic as always, as he really is one of the best working martial artists in movies today.

Overall, Merantau is a fantastic action film that’s certainly worth checking out; especially if you’re clamoring for something after watching The Raid films.


11. Wheels of Fire (1985)

Wheels of Fire (1985)

Plot: When his sister gets kidnapped by a gang of motorists, Trace must go after this gang in order to get his sister back.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: Endless entertainment; even though this movie takes obvious “inspiration” from another popular movie that came out in 1981(just try and guess which one).

Final Result: Filipino Mad Max. Yes, this movie shamelessly rips off The Road Warrior and does not care at all! With that in mind, this movie is a total blast, and is just completely entertaining, which is a given gift of director Cirio H. Santiago! Wheels of Fire is just a fun low budget romp that’s by no means Oscar worthy, or for that matter Razzie worth; just a dumb, but fiercely entertaining, action film.


12. Death Force (1978)

Death Force

Plot: Doug was left for dead by his two friends, only to be rescued by two Japanese samurais when he washes up on shore. Doug is then trained by these samurais to wield a sword in order to take his revenge.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: It moves at a fast pace. This movie is about 90 minutes and it constantly moves, resulting in a movie where there’s never a dull moment.

Final Result: A very low budget Filipino Blacksploitation film. Once more director Cirio H. Santiago creates another hugely entertaining martial arts flick. In Death Force actors Carmen Argenziano and Leon Isaac Kennedy play the two bad guys, and they are easily some of the most likable bad guy characters, as they have really noticeable chemistry with each other.

Meanwhile, James Iglehart is completely stoic and bent on revenge. While by no means fantastic, Death Force is a wildly entertaining Blacksploitation film from the Filipino master of cult movies.


13. That’s the Way I Like It (1998)

That’s the Way I Like It (1998)

Plot: Taking place in 1977, this film tells the story of Hock, and how he hopes to join a dancing competition in order to buy a motorcycle, even though he doesn’t know how to dance.

Country: Singapore

Best Part: The portrayal of disco. While this movie might not represent the dark subculture of disco during the late 1970s and early 1980s, it does however portray disco with a fond and loving memory without it being overtly cheesy.

Final Result: An underrated feel good film that sadly didn’t find its audience when it first came out. While a Singapore film about disco might not sound like it would make for a good movie, this movie is surprisingly good. The main character is very likable, and the portrayal of disco seems to come from a loving place. However, for whatever reason this movie did not perform that well, and is fairly obscure, and honestly isn’t that how most cult films develop?


14. Brides of Blood (1968)

Brides of Blood (1968)

Plot: A group of researchers go to an island where they discover the results of nuclear radiation have turned the island into a nightmare, filled with killer tree limbs and a cheesy monster.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: The cheesy monster. The monster resembles some sort of muck monster and is gloriously cheesy.

Final Result: A silly monster movie. Brides of Blood is the first film in the ‘Blood Island’ trilogy, and is a pretty schlocky movie. It would be all but forgotten if it wasn’t for the gloriously cheesy monster and killer tree limbs; both of which make the movie feel just a bit cheesy.

This movie often times treads the line between so bad it’s good and just plain bad, as the acting is very weak, the pacing is sluggish and it just feels kind of overlong. This is the type cheesy B-movie that might be worth checking out for a bad movie night, especially if you’re looking for something a bit more obscure.


15. Blood is the Color of Night (Aka the Blood Drinkers) (1964)

Blood Drinkers

Plot: Blood is the Color of Night tells the story of Count Marco, and how hopes to resurrect his long dead wife by drinking the blood of others.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: The unusual lighting and color filters. There is a significant amount of color filters, such as red and blue, due to a limited budget.

Final Result: Blood is the Color of Night is basically the Filipino version of Dracula, with a couple of twists, like Dracula being called Count Marco. With this in mind, this is one of the most underrated vampire films ever made. The thing that really makes this movie stand out is the color filter, as they bring a sort of surreal dream like quality to this film.

This dream like nature makes the movie stand out, and makes it almost a minor classic in its own right, but sadly this movie has fallen into obscurity, and probably will remain an unusual hidden gem.


16. For Your Height Only (Aka, For Y’ur Height Only) (1981)

For Your Height Only

Plot: For Your Height only follows exploits of Agent 00, who has to stop a gang of drug traders lead by the mysterious Mr. Giant.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: The dubbing is hilariously bad, bordering on Godfrey Ho level of hilarity. The second best part has to be the bizarre premise.

Final Result: Something you need to see to believe. For Your Height Only is one of those movies that you have no idea why it exists; but you’re so thankful it does. Actor Weng Weng is the main character in this and stands at 2’9, which makes him the shortest lead action hero in film, and it’s just so surreal to see, because he’s basically playing James Bond!

The only difference is that this movie is an intentional parody of the James Bond movies. Everything about this movie is just baffling, and by the end you’ll be just wondering why it exists. See this movie and have an excellent time, while staring in complete disbelief that this movie was actually made.


17. Women in Cages (1971)

Women in Cages (1971)

Plot: An American woman ends up being jailed in the Philippines. While in prison she has to endure torture, the harsh conditions and, of course, the sadistic warden.

Country: Philippines.

Best Part: The constantly moving action. With a name like Women in Cages, do you honestly expect something deep and meaningful? Or do you expect something trashy? Women in Cages is definitely the latter, and boy is it entertaining.

Final Result: An exploitation film that pretty much has very few redeeming qualities, but chock full of entertainment. Yes, this movie is not the classiest film, but it certainly knows how to pander to its audience. This movie knows who its audience is, and it gives the audience everything they could want in a film that’s called Women in Cages.

This includes constant nudity, lesbianism, women fights and Pam Grier, who encompasses almost all of these aspects. Women in Cages will entertain its audience for 80 minutes and sometimes that’s probably the best thing you could want in a movie.

Author Bio: Antony Copsey is an up and coming writer, who is studying communications at Rowan University at Glassboro, New Jersey. He is a huge fan of watching movies and writing about them, as well as writing his own material