Dr. Seri Luangphinith

Welcome to the Student Research Website on East Asian Film

In Spring 2016, ENG 370 Advanced Film Studies (3) undertook a special focus on the FIlm and Television Drama from three East Asian Countries: Japan, South Korea, and the People's Republic of China. Students diligently studied film/editing techniques, genres, critical theories, and socio-political contexts that influenced the production film and tv broadcasting. Due to the relatively superficial level of most English-based professional review sites, the class decided to initiate what will become an expanding dataase of critical discussions for this region.

Use the graphic below to specify your area of interest. Select China, Korea, or Japan to view film reviews from that county.

Contemporary Films and Television of Japan

Japan is home to a treasure trove of films and television shows, many laying the groundwork for Japan’s modern cultural landscape. In the aftermath of World War II, Japan shifted its focus away from wartime propaganda due in part to the American occupation, onto its changing society in the 60's and its romanticized samurai past. Akira Kurisawa, Yasujiro Ozu, and Mizoguchi were tour de force in the early post World War II years. Ozu and Mizuguchi took a critical look at the changing Japan before them and the saw loss of old Japan in many subtle ways through the eyes of families trying to survive. These auteurs were backed by large film studios like Toei who produced many other types of media, the most notable being anime - a format that has dominated film and television in Japan even today. Hayao Miyazaki and Katsuhiro Otomo are both visionaries in this field. This prosperous visual culture has been helped by great actors such as Kurosawa's main man, Toshiro Mifune, and today's Ken Watanabe. The following films being reviewed take much of their influence from these groundbreaking artists, and today Japan continues to exert influential soft-power globally, through manga, anime, and other visual media.

Contemporary Films and Television of The People's Republic of China

All Chinese films promote Chinese culture and in this promotion, there are specific elements that China wants to share with the world. Some of these elements are what they are already known for and they want to share them with audiences, and some of the elements are new and it’s what they want to be known for. In other words, Chinese films are just one way for China to promote their national brands. These brands include: censorship, the kinds of clothes the characters wear, how different kinds of people talk to one another, how they eat, and what kinds of food they eat…etc. Anything that shows the culture in some way. Themes are also incorporated into national branding. One huge theme that is seen throughout every Chinese film that we have analyzed is the burden of responsibilities that each Chinese person holds. Their duty is first to the nation, then to their family, and only after them they have a duty to themselves. Nation is always above all else, and is why national branding in anything that an audience is going to see—especially film with multiple audiences—is so important.

Contemporary Films and Television of South Korea

South Korean film and television have grown from Korea’s need to entertain itself to a widely spread phenomenon in the past twenty years. In the late 1990s, South Korea began to export its culture, and the demand for its familiar ethical codes and themes resonated with the rest of Asia, thus spurring what is known as the Korean Wave. This wave has been so immersive that a term has been created to explain its effects-- hallyu, which refers to a love for South Korean cultural exports. The Korean Wave has primarily consisted of Korean pop music-- K-Pop-- and K-dramas, the vastly popularized televisions shows that have helped define much of the world’s understanding of South Korea today. These K-dramas are most often romances or historical dramas, some of the most popular of which were Winter Sonata and Boys Over Flowers, both of which have captured audiences across as well as outside of Asia. With the internet, and particularly services such as Dramafever and Viki, people across the globe are able to access Korean dramas and films. South Korea is known for some stifling censorship laws, including some brand names, and more often than direct censorship, the themes and visuals of such films and dramas refrain from explicit sexual and violent content on screen. This ensures content that is acceptable and accessible to a wider audience than ever before.

For more information, please contact Dr. Seri Luangphinith . Please submit critiques for publishing via email to seri@hawaii.edu.