You Don't Have To Be American
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You Don't Have To Be American

Foreign Films that have gone under our American Radar

You Don't Have To Be American

American movies are always great to see if they’re done well of course, but many of us just ignore films made from film industries around the world. This isn’t really that surprising, seeing as how we have dozens of movies every year, it’s pretty hard to keep up with everyone else in the world. Plus, I don’t think anyone here would advertise foreign films besides the Oscars and other award shows hosted by the Foreign Press. However, this doesn’t mean that just because we ignore them that they’re bad or anything. Last year, there was a lot of hype for a Russian-made Avengers-style film “The Guardians”, which is expected to be released sometime in 2017. Here are some foreign films I’ve seen that I thought were great and went under-appreciated in most American circles. Hope you like subtitles.


An Irish-British film (and one where you might not need subtitles unless you can’t understand the Irish lingo) that’s meant to be a horror but really comes out to be more of a comedy. An island off the coast of Ireland is invaded by bloodsucking aliens, the authorities discover the only weakness these vampiric-aliens have, and their only weapon against them is alcohol. Solution? Get drunk. You can already tell from a plot as ridiculous as that that you’re in for a fun time If you mix horror elements along with Irish stereotypes, shake well, laughter is bound to ensue. I honestly found this movie by accident when someone once made a parody of it and told me all about it. I cannot tell you how glad I am that this stumbled into my lap.

“Ip Man Franchise”

I’m going to cheat here and put an entire franchise in. Why? Well, they’re practically all the same but equally good. This trilogy is the semi-autobiography of the Grandmaster, Ip Man, master of Wing Chun and the man who would someday train Bruce Lee. The story, I’ll admit, is more interesting in the first movie than the rest, but if you love kung fu action, you’ll love Ip Man, played by Donnie Yen. For those who don’t know (I’m going out on a limb and guessing a lot of you, Wing Chun is a very fast paced, close-quarters combat style that has you throwing punches and blocks so fast and so close, you’d think they couldn’t do any damage, and you’d be dead wrong. If this is the guy that made it so we had to slow down the camera just to see Bruce Lee in action, imagine how much power he has in his fists.

“Pan’s Labyrinth”

I talked about this recently, how the trailer misled everyone to think it was in English. This Guillermo Del Toro film, entirely in Spanish, is about a girl in Spain during the revolution in 1944, who discovers a faun and a labyrinth and is told she is the lost princess. All she has to do is prove her worth by accomplishing three tasks as her world and human family crumble around her. Despite being misled (I had to find this movie twice until I realized that it really was in Spanish and I wasn’t being ripped off) this was an amazing film. The villain played his part incredibly and the ending, while satisfying, leaves an ambiguous end that makes you question whether the girl was right or it was all a wonderful dream. Either way, if you don’t mind Del Toro’s bizarre art style, this film will blow you away.

“3 Idiots”

I have my cousins to thank for forcing this one on me. A Bollywood tale, told mainly from flashbacks, two friends search for their long lost companion and rememberer how they met in college, and how their friend taught them how to think differently to solve problems, even though everyone else called them “idiots”. This movie made me laugh and cry at different stages throughout the film, and its Bollywood songs are insanely catchy. Go on and look up “All is Well” and get that out of your head within the next month. I dare you. This film also spoke to me as a college student on how to deal with stress in work and life. This was a hilarious and heartwarming movie and I thank my cousins for showing it to me. Now, if only I could get that song out of my head.

“Waltz with Bashir”

I’m not really one for documentaries, but I couldn’t leave this one alone after seeing it for class. This Israeli film by Ari Folman features him interviewing fellow soldiers of the events of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the massacre that followed, reconstructing his own repressed memories of the incident. This film was almost entirely animated, giving a unique perspective in terms of color and dreams the interviewees had. While some things do tend to get lost in translation or are just dulled on for a while, this is a remarkable story that demonstrates the causes and effects of trauma and PTSD.


The Japanese are well renown for making amazing films (not counting animated ones), many of which inspired films we have today, like “The Magnificent Seven”. They also made many adaptations of Shakespearean plays. This one adapted from “King Lear”, is about a Japanese Warlord who must retire and give his empire to his three sons, but underestimates how power can corrupt as they turn on each other and their father as well. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you’ll enjoy how this film takes certain aspects of the original play and twists and turns them to make the same story with a slightly different twist.

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