Top 5 movies to watch to get to know China

As a student whenever I had to learn a new language or was interested in a culture I was told to ‘watch some movies or read a book’. Although I love a good book sometimes it can’t compare to actually seeing it. Without actually visiting, this is the second best thing. So here are 5 films to watch if you want to get to know China.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

I’ll start with two classics! Any search that includes the keywords “China” and “movie” on any search engine will come up with “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. The famous Ang Lee movie based on Northern warriors. Get your Kung Fu moves out.

Raise the Red Lantern

An old classic, “Raise the Red Lantern” focuses on the warlord period of China and follows a young woman who becomes a concubine. A glimpse into Chinese history.


Both of the films above are quite heavy, for some lighthearted viewing, why not look into “The Monkey King” based on the books “A journey to the west” a Ming dynasty classic known to all in China.

Beijing Bicycle

As I live in Beijing I’m a tad biased and had to pick a Beijing related film, “Beijing Bicycle”. This 2001 film portrays a young migrant trying to make a living in Beijing as a courier. Twist alert, his bike gets stolen and he needs to get it back!


I’ve left my favorite to last. You can find almost every type of ecosystem dotted around in China, the amount of biodiversity is astonishing. I’m sure you can all think of some examples of stunning Chinese wildlife. The Disney film, “Born in China”, portrays the intimate moments of iconic Chinese wildlife in a way that has never been seen before. It explores China through the eyes of it’s animals and their habitat. You’ll see China in a whole new way.

It was hard to pick just 5 films, the list is endless, but looking at the list what do you think, have you watched any of these films? What others would you add to the list and why?