Article: Top 10 Chinese Movies Based On The Dark Side Of The Society


We all are well aware that despite the differences in geographical location, society in every corner of the world has its flaws. And there is no better reflector of the society than the film industry. Movies are not just a source of entertainment, but it is capable enough to highlight some of the critical issues in society. Reading old bookish texts and listening to stories is not impactful to the extent that makes you realize the sensitivity of the act, the pain that our ancestral generation has to go through. We often ignore to acknowledge the fact that, how lucky we are to be born in this generation, in this era. Things were not the same for our older generation. Documenting and making films is the best way to create an impact and take the audience on a journey where they can see and feel the injustice of society.

1. Unsilenced

Unsilenced is a movie based on true events. The film got released in 2021, and it was written and directed by Leon Lee. The film starred Sam Trammell, Tzu-Chiang Wang, James Yi, etc. The movie’s storyline revolves around a University student Wang, and his friends whose youthful days were stolen by the 1999 order that banned the spiritual practice, of Falun Gong, in China. As the state unfurls lies everywhere and brutally starts suppressing the voices of disapproval, they cross paths with Daniel, an American reporter struggling to find meaning in his profession. With the sword hanging from their neck, they have two options left. Either they can move ahead and speak the truth or remain silent. The film highlighted the abuses of human rights in China and the danger China imposes on the West World if the crimes in China go unpunished.


2. Kung Fu Hustle

Kung Fu Hustle is an action-comedy film that got released in the year 2004. The film was written and directed by Stephen Chow. The film starred Danny Chan, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu and Eva Huang. The film emphasizes the attention to the spirits of martial arts as a means for self-defense and self-improvement instead of simply attacking and defeating the opponents. The true martial art hero is the one who can win over his opponents through peace and forgiveness instead of violence and revenge.


3. Shaolin Soccer

Shaolin Soccer is a sports comedy film that got released in the year 2001. Stephen Chow directed the film, and he also appeared in the lead role. The film’s plot revolves around a Shaolin follower who assembles his five childhood buddies. So, they can play football together and universalize kung fu. The movie teaches the value of teamwork, sacrifice, and triumph. It highlights how anyone can achieve anything in life by passionately following their goals.


4. To Live

To live is a Chinese drama film that got released in the year 1994. Zhang Yimou directed the film, and Lu Wei wrote the drama’s storyline. The film is based on the novel To Live by Yu Hua. The film stars Ge You, Gong Li, Niu Ben, etc. The film takes you from the dangerous China of the 40’s civil war to the brutal Cultural Revolution and beyond through the lenses of one couple who amidst the hardships and difficulties, still hopes for a better future. They have a lot of strength and capacity in them and it's the reason, why they can silently endure the torcher of the government and overcome it.


5. Better Days

Better Days is a film based on the Chinese novel In the youth, In her beauty. Derek Tsang directed the movie, and Lam Wing Sum, Li Yuan, and Xu Yimeng wrote the storyline for the film. The film starred Zhou Dongyu, Jackson Yee, Zhou Ye, etc. The film’s story revolves around a bullied high school student and a criminal, how they become the prime suspect in the murder of a teenage girl who turns out to be an aspirant student for the state Gaokao exam. The film highlights the bullying culture in China’s schools and colleges and their extremely intense college admission system, which has pushed several students toward the life-ending path.


6. Dying To Survive

Dying to Survive is a comedy-drama film that got released in the year 2018. Wen Muye directed the film, and it starred Xu Zheng, Wang Chuan Jun, and Tan Zhuo. The film’s plot revolves around a Chinese leukemia patient who smuggles cheap pharmaceuticals from India, production of which is not patented in India. He smuggled these medicines to help hundreds of Chinese civilians fight cancer. The film realistically showcases the condition of people living at the margins of Shanghai’s glitzy society and the high-ending prices of drugs, making it impossible for the low-earning families to hope for a healthy future.


7. Beijing Bicycle

Beijing Bicycle is a drama film that got released in the year 2001. Director Wang Xiaoshuai directed the film, and it starred Zhou Xun and Gao Yuanyuan. The film’s storyline revolves around a seventeen-year-old young boy named Guei who came to Beijing to seek work. He soon finds work as a delivery man, he worked hard and bought a cycle for himself, but it was stolen. A few days later, the cycle was found by a poor boy named Jian, who sees it as an opportunity to look cool in front of his peers. The story unfurls ahead with the fight of two young men claiming the cycle as their own. The film highlights the challenges of adolescence and, most importantly, it displays the social critique of urbanization.


8. Last Train Home

Last Train Home is a Chinese-based Canadian documentary film that got released in the year 2009. Lixin Fan directed the film, and Daniel Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin produced the film. The film calls for the attention of the audience to the lives of the workers who are forced to leave their families behind and have to shift thousands of miles away to work in the Chinese factories. Annually, 130 million factory workers in China migrate to work in the factories. The film is about the journey of a married couple on how they struggle to meet their children, whom they get to see only once a year. The story takes a turn when their daughter decides to drop out of school and work in the factories. This decision of hers made the couple question their sacrifice.


9. Up The Yangtze

Up the Yangtze is a Chinese documentary film that got released in the year 2007. The Chinese-Canadian director Yung Chang directed the film. The film stars Cindy Shui Yu, Jerry Bo Yu Chen, etc. The documentary emphasizes China’s fast-evolving economy by promoting the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. For the government, the dam construction is a sign of progress, but it took over the shelter of thousands of families. The film further details the friction in Chinese society as its civilians face the difficulties of its new consumer capitalism.


10. Red Sorghum

Red Sorghum is a Chinese film based on the novel Red Sorghum Clan by Mo Yan. The film got released in the year 1988. Zhang Yimou directed the film, and it starred Gong Li, Jiang Wen, and Teng Rujun. The film’s storyline revolves around the three generations of the Shangdong family. The narrator tells the story of his family’s hardships, first as a spirits owner making sorghum wine and then a resistance fighter during the Second Sino-Japanese war. The film also shows details of civil disputes between warring Chinese groups, including rival gangs and political powers. The film also highlighted the Cultural revolution in the China and the reawake of diplomatic relations between China and Japan.