9 Great East Asian War Films

9 Great East Asian War Films

Culturally enriching and cinematically masterful, these films depict both war and East Asian cultures in a truthful and authentic light.

Several weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself to write more of my weekly articles here at Odyssey about cinema. After all, it is what I am studying here at Towson University and what I want to pursue as a career. And so after writing several articles, I decided that I wanted to be a bit ambitious and to make a bid to also be a writer for cinema website Taste of Cinema. After a short back-and-forth with their managing editor, the messages stopped, so I believe it is safe to say that I was not qualified to work with them.

The bad news? I wasn't hired. The good news? I now get to share with you all the first article I would have wrote for them if I had been hired. So, without further ado, I present to you nine great East-Asian war films which I firmly believe to be both culturally enriching and cinematically masterful.

1. "Red Cliff"

Set on the eve of the Three Kingdoms Period in ancient China, "Red Cliff" depicts the legendary Battle of Red Cliff, and the events which led up to it. Like the Revolutionary War to an American, the Three Kingdoms Period is to a Chinese. Poetic, compelling, and mesmerizing, "Red Cliff" offers audiences a vivid look of the event that changed Chinese history forever.

2. "Assembly"

A fairly recent war film set during the Chinese Civil War, "Assembly" follows the story of a Communist company as they struggle to hold out against superior Nationalist forces. Surprisingly neutral and not having showing any anti-Nationalist or pro-Communist messages in any of the film, "Assembly" respects all those who fought in the war and sees it as a tragic event where brothers of the same nation were unfortunately ordered to fight one another.

3. "The Warlords"

Another Chinese epic war film, "The Warlords" does not take place in ancient China but during the deadly Boxer Rebellion where the weakening Qing Dynasty waged a desperate war against a pro-Christian and anti-foreigner faction known as the Boxers. A brutal and honest depiction of the tragedies of war and the dangers of ambition, "The Warlords" offers audiences an unforgettable experience in a dark and harrowing period of Chinese history.

4. "71 Into The Fire"

Featuring a powerful performance by Korean pop star TOP, "71 Into the Fire" focuses on the true story of seventy-one South Korean student soldiers who fought to the last man in a desperate struggle to defend a strategic position against overwhelming North Korean forces. Depressingly tragic, "71 Into The Fire" remembers those who lost their lives during the war, especially the young student-soldiers who fought and died for their country.

5. "The Admiral: Roaring Currents"

Based on the true battle of the Battle of Myeongnyang, "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" tells of the titanic battle where 13 ships of the Korean Navy went up against 330 ship of the opposing Japanese fleet—and won. A inspirational tale of courage, fortitude, and patriotism, "The Admiral" is not only as exciting as the modern blockbuster, it is also as heartfelt as an indie.

6. "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War"

Similar to "71 Into The Fire," for its setting in the Korean War, "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War," is more of a film about the horrors of war and the immense damage it does on both the mind and the soul. While all films on this list have graphic scenes of violence, "Tae Guk Gi" has a gratuitous amount, which is purposefully included to give depth to the fruitless and senseless conflict very commonly known as "The Forgotten War."

7. "Yamato"

The biggest and most powerful battleship ever constructed, "Yamato" is a non-linear story that follows a woman's attempt of scattering her father's ashes at sea where the battleship he served on during World War II, Yamato, tragically sunk. More than a military and technological achievement for the Japanese, the battleship Yamato was a symbol of the nation itself. A story of camaraderie, sacrifice, and ultimately remembrance, "Yamato" is an emotional and electrifying experience.

8. "Letters From Iwo Jima"

A companion piece to "Flags Of Our Fathers," "Letters From Iwo Jima" tells of the Japanese side of the iconic Battle of Iwo Jima. Set in the final days of World War II on a small volcanic island, the story follows General Tadamicihi Kuribayashi and his efforts to fend off the invading American forces for as long as possible in an impossible battle. Humanizing, gripping, and beautiful, "Letters From Iwo Jima" sheds light on the good and evil found on all sides of every conflict.

9. "For Those We Love"

Seen by some as a right-wing militaristic and revisionist film, "For Those We Love" is a controversial film that follows a group of kamikaze pilots from the day they are recruited to the day where they attempt to fly their fuel and explosive-laden planes into enemy warships or die trying. Definitely similar to the suicide bomber attacks that are prevalent today, "For Those We Love" takes a truly tragic part of World War II and tells the stories of those who were either pressured into becoming suicide pilots or who did it for their unwavering desire to protect their country at all costs.

With the exception of "Letters From Iwo Jima," which was a co-production between the United States and Japan, all eight other films on this list are made explicitly by the East Asian countries of China, Korea, and Japan. While war is a truly tragic human invention, there is sometimes good that can come from it, such as the realization that peace, coexistence, and harmony between the peoples of the world is ultimately more important than any political, ethnical, religious, or economic motive.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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