by Cho Na, July 11, 2021
103

Take a wild carnival-like break with this movie!

Warning: may contain spoilers!

Can be viewed in Light or Dark Mode.


TAKE A BREAK FROM DRAMAS!

I watch dramas consecutively. But in certain situations or conditions, I turn to a movie to take a break between dramas. I found out that watching movies prevents me from falling into drama withdrawal (cannot move on from a drama) or drama slump (no desire to watch any drama). For me, watching a movie is like taking vitamin C to boost my immune system, so I won't get sick of dramaland.

Below, I compiled 2020/2021 movies I have watched for the first half of the year, categorized by country, then sorted alphabetically. All movies have English subs. This is because the 2020 movies are released later in the year and subbed in 2021. Unless stated otherwise, I put the links to the English subbed trailer for you to get a glimpse of what the movies are about.

Now here's the catch. I only watch movies that are my cup of tea, and the endings are to my liking. They may not be your cup of tea, or you may prefer coffee instead. But once in a while, under certain circumstances, you may want to try them. So I won't write any reviews nor rate the movies, as I believe there is a movie for everyone in every situation/condition regardless of the rating. Besides, the suggestions below are just for fun. So let's start then!


CHINA

A Writer's Odyssey (2021)

Genres: Action, Suspense, Mystery, Fantasy; Duration: 2 hr. 2 min.; Trailer: iQiyi 


Two worlds exist side by side. In the real world, Guan Ning (Lei Jia Yin) is ordered to kill a novelist by the mysterious Tu Ling (Yang Mi) in exchange to find his daughter. In the fantasy world, the young Kong Wen  (Dong Zi Jian) plans to revenge his sister by assassinating the immortal lord. While in the real world, the dreading Guan Ning tries to solve the secret of why he has to kill the novelist, in its parallel world Kong Wen undergoes numerous battles to survive. Somehow, the father and the boy's worlds interconnect.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to escape from reality but only have two hours to do it.
  • You watched a drama before with slice-of-life or any genre with a plot that hits close to home. It affects you deeply and emotionally because you can relate to the story very closely. Now you crave some fantasy.
  • You just watched a drama with bad CGI, so you want to redeem your eyes with the amazing CGI in this movie. You just caught a glimpse of it from the GIF above.


Catman (2021)

Genres: Romance, Fantasy; Duration: 1 hr. 30 min.; Trailer: iQiyi 


4Cs (chic, confident, charming, cold) Liang Qu (EXO's Oh Se Hun) became half-human half-cat by accident. He can only transform back to 100% human after nine years, but he cannot reveal the secret neither fall in love. Only a few insiders like Chao Chao (Song Wei Long) know his secret. Of course, as we guessed, a woman comes into Liang Qu's life! She is none other than Miao Xiao Wan (Janice Wu), previously his high school sweetheart.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You are a cat person. There are other cute cats besides Liang Qu in this movie.
  • You want to know how Se Hun, Janice Wu, and Song Wei Long looked like five years ago. Yes, this movie was supposed to be released in 2016 but due to hallyu ban in China it was shelved until 2021. I actually was surprised how Song Wei Long looked like in his younger days.
  • You just want to watch it to celebrate freedom. Now that the ban has gradually being lifted up in China starting this year, which banned South Korean-China collaboration dramas and movies do you want to see being released?


Coffee Or Tea? (2020)

Genres: Adventure, Friendship,  Business, Drama; Duration: 1 hr. 37 min.; Trailer: Cathay Cineplex SG 


In the opening scene, that reminds me of the opening scene of K-drama Boys Over Flowers lol, city slicker Wei Jin Bei (Turbo Liu) meets the enthusiastic Pen Xiu Bing (Peng Yu Chang), who is just about ready to move back to his country home in Yunnan. Jin Bei tags along with Xiu Bing, and they meet the local boy Li Shao Qun (Yin Fang). Together they start an e-commerce business.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to watch a movie with natural settings. This one was filmed in beautiful rural Yunnan, China, and the local farmers acted as extras in the movie.
  • You want to watch a great bromance. FYI, the director Derek Hui also directed a great bromance Cdramas Cross Fire (2020).
  • You are tired of boring and draggy business dramas. As the MDL synopsis states, the guys started the "pure and absurd entrepreneurial journey". Their business meetings are conducted while wandering through the forest or surrounded by ducks and chickens.


Detective Chinatown 3 (2021)

Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Comedy, Crime; Duration: 2 hr. 16 min.; Trailer: Viki 


This is the third installment of the popular Detective Chinatown series. Detective duo Qin Feng (Turbo Liu) - in blue - and his uncle Tang Ren (Wang Bao Qiang) - far-right - went to Tokyo per invitation of Japanese detective Noda Hiroshi (Tsumabuki Satoshi). So how they all ended up cosplaying in a parade? Just watch it!
You may want to watch this if:
  • You have never been to Tokyo or Japan. Some Japanese traditional practices are shown in the movie.
  • You like cosplaying. Some costumes are inspirational.
  • You want to know how they are able to make the third installment of the Chinese detective series. The movies are not necessarily related to each other. You get to see how Qin Feng and Tang Ren met each other in Detective Chinatown. They go to New York together in Detective Chinatown 2. There is also a 2020 drama, Detective Chinatown, made out of the movie franchise.


Home Sweet Home (2021)

Genres: Suspense,  Family; Duration: 1 hr. 51 min.; Trailer: Jetsen Huashi Media US


First of all, let me warn you: this is not a fun family movie despite of its family genre. It's creepy but entertaining nonetheless. The movie tells the story of a seemingly perfect family that consists of Mr. Wang (Aaron Kwok), Mrs. Wang (Tiffany Hsu), and their daughter Chu Tong (Wendy Zhang) and son Chu Qi (Dollar Rong). Wang family lives harmoniously and has everything until a mysterious man (Duan Yi Hong) comes to live in their home basement.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You watched too many cute and fluffy dramas, and you want to try something serious and dark. However, you don't want to spend too many hours of darkness in a drama, so you opt for a dark movie instead.
  • You want to know how someone can be a squatter in an occupied house.
  • You like the 2020 Chinese dramas The Bad Kids, and you want to see them again. Dollar Rong and Wang Sheng Di acted in this movie. They and Shi Peng Yuan sang the movie OST. Click on their picture to watch the MV. Surprisingly, they sang so harmoniously together that I want the trio to sing more OSTs! Mostly, I would love to see them together again in lighter and more cheerful tones in future dramas/movies.


I Remember (2020)

Genres: Comedy, Romance, Drama; Duration: 1 hr. 39 min.; Trailer: Asian Film Fans


Fei Li (Lee Hong Chi), an ordinary-looking IT guy, has a crush on the office goddess Zhao Xi Man (Angelababy). Unfortunately, she seems too close to the handsome company boss Dou Peng (Denny Huang). Feeling out of league, Fei Li can only wish for being a one-day boyfriend to Xi Man. Voila, his wish comes true! Some watchers wrote that this movie is similar to the 2016 Thai movie One Day. Since I haven't watched the Thai one, I cannot tell you if I Remember is similar to its predecessor or not. 
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to know how a guy can make a girl his girlfriend for a day without magic (there is no fantasy genre in this movie)
  • You watched the Thai movie One Day before, and you want to compare it with the Chinese movie.
  • You have never been to Finland where the movie was filmed. One of the locations is Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, which boasts as the official hometown of Santa Claus (source). So you got to see the magnificent landscapes Finland offers, including the breathtaking aurora borealis (polar lights) displays and fun reindeer rides. 


Special Couple (2021)

Genres: Comedy, Romance; Duration: 1 hr. 46 min.; Trailer: Arif Rahman Lee Fanpage


Gu Da Bai (Aarif Rahman), who studies music in the UK, runs into visa issues and has to be deported back to China. He gets help from his best friend, Jin Tian (Bai Ke Li), who is a UK citizen, by posing as his significant other. Unfortunately, one lie begets another lie, and soon more problems arise. Not only involves Jin Tian's jealous girlfriend Vivian (Cica Zhou), also with Da Bai's new neighbor Hermione (Sandrine Pinna). Joined the cast is British actor Rupert Graves who acted as Watson, an immigration officer. 
You may want to watch this if:
  • You have never been to London before. The movie showcased several prominent London landmarks, including the iconic Royal Changing Guard Ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace.
  • You want to know the life of international students.
  • You think the Chinese government censorship agency NRTA passed a BL movie because it was filmed abroad.


The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity (2020)

Genres: Action, Adventure,  Historical, Fantasy,  Supernatural; Duration: 2 hr. 12 min.; Trailer: Netflix


The storyline of this costume movie is actually uncomplicated: two strangers, Qing Ming (Mark Chao) and Boya (Allen Deng), meet and save their world from a villain, then depart as friends. Although the plot is as simple as that, but this movie is a feast to the eyes, from the two actors above, their bromance, supporting actors, their acting, cinematography, costume, makeup, props, and visual effects (particularly CGI). There will be a sequel for this movie called Long Ye Qu (translated as the Song of Long Ye), focusing on the character Long Ye who is one of the supporting characters in the prequel. 
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to watch a great bromance
  • You have never watched any Chinese historical show before. You want to dip your toes in the subgenre but don't dare to try the dramas yet. You only want to be confused for 2 hour-ish instead of 40+ episodes. "What the heck is xianxia", you say?
  • You want to watch this movie because it was plagued by a high-profile scandal of plagiarism issue committed by the director Edward Guo Jing Ming almost two decades agoThe scandal caused the movie to abruptly pulled back from cinemas across China 11 days after being released on Christmas Day in 2020 (source).

SOUTH KOREA

Collectors (2020)

Genres: Action, Adventure,  Comedy, Crime; Duration: 1 hr. 54 min.; Trailer: EonTalk


Kang Dong Goo (Lee Je Hoon) is an elite grave robber gifted in unique touch and intuition. He receives an interesting offer from the museum curator Yoon Se Hee (Shin Hae Sun). For the task, he assembles a group of experts in tomb raiding: prominent archaeologist Dr Jones (Jo  Woo Jin), legendary ex-con  Sabdari or Shovel Leg (Im Won Hee), drone expert Hye Ri (Park Se Wan), and Man Gi (Joo Jin Mo). Together they embark on a hilarious yet dangerous heist adventure.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to know how the Koreans conduct tomb raiding business (or at least how they made a tomb raiding movie).
  • You want to know if the Korean production company starts a tomb raiding franchise, especially since this movie ends with a hint of a sequel.
  • You want to know if Dr Jones is indeed the Korean Indiana Jones, as he claims.


Mission: Possible (2021)

Genres: Action, Thriller, Comedy; Duration: 1 hr. 45 min.; Trailer: Viki


Yoo Da Hee (Lee Sun Bin) is a rookie Chinese secret agent. Since she is fluent in Korean, she is sent to close a ring of arms smugglers in South Korea. She is supposed to meet a South Korean special operative agent. Instead, she unexpectedly meets up with Woo Soo Han (Kim Young Kwang), a private detective with small-fry cases. The unlikely intelligent cooperation is formed between the two.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to know whether a man and a woman can be just friends without romance.
  • You want to know how the heck Soo Han has a pair of pink fur-lined handcuffs with him, as seen in the GIF.
  • You want to know why a Chinese spy and a Korean detective end up wearing Russian winter outfits, as seen in the picture.


Seobok (2021)

Genres: Action,  Thriller,  Sci-Fi; Duration: 1 hr. 54 min.; TrailerEon Talk


In this movie, South Korea was able to beat other countries in creating the first-ever genetically mutated human clone, whom they name Seobok (Park Bo Gum). There are parties who want to kidnap Seobok, of course, since he's holding the secret of eternal life. It seems everyone in the world wants to stay young while our dear earth is getting old. That's when former NIS intelligence Ki Heon (Gong Yoo) is called to be the hero to save the damsel, wrong, the clone.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to know how South Korea is able to create a human clone as handsome as their Hallyu star.
  • You want to know how South Korea made a movie of a historical event that's not even their own national history. This movie is a modern Korean interpretation of an account of the famous Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China sending his alchemist Xu Fu to find the legendary elixir of life (Wikipedia).
  • You have laughed too much watching too many comedy dramas that you want to cry once in a while.


Space Sweepers (2021)

Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Fantasy; Duration: 2 hr. 16 min.; TrailerThe Swoon


The space dumpster divers Kim Tae Ho (Song Joong Ki), Captain Jang Hyun Sook (Kim Tae Ri), Tiger Park (Jin Seon Kyu), and robot Eob Dong (voiced by Yoo Hae Jin) from The Victory junk collector ship accidentally found a cute little humanoid robot Dorothy (Park Ye Rin) who is actually a weapon of mass destruction.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to watch a space movie that is different from the usual Hollywood productions.
  • You want to know why operating a trash pickup vehicle can be so expensive.
  • You are tired of low budget dramas/movies and want to watch something with amazing CGI and props.


The Name (2020)

Genres: Romance,  Drama; Duration: 1 hr. 50 min. ; Trailer: Eontalk


Seo Ri Ae (Jeon So Min), who is rich but for some reason cannot fulfill her dream, bought a painting from Mo Cheol Woo (Choi Jung Won), an impoverished painter with genius talent. They agree to work together for a final grand project by borrowing each other's names.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to see artistic stuff, as there are a lot of beautiful paintings in this movie.
  • You want to be told a simple story with a surprising plot twist.
  • You are in the mood to cry.


The Night of the Undead (2020)

Genres: Action, Thriller, Horror, Comedy, Sci-Fi; Duration: 1 hr. 50 min.; TrailerEon Talk


Sweet and naive So Hee (Lee Jung Hyun)  marries a perfect man of her dream Man Gil (Kim Sung Oh). When she is suspicious of her husband loyalty, she hires detective Dr Jang aka Broccoli (Yang Dong Geun). From his investigation, she finds out that her husband wants to kill her. With the help of her besties, cold butcher Se Ra (Seo Young Hee) and sassy struggling actress Yang Seon (Lee Mi Do), So Hee decides to get rid of her husband first.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You are married, and you want to know how to get rid of your husband when divorcing him is not an option.
  • You watched too many high-quality dramas that you want to take a break and watch a cheesy one (is there a condition such as that?)
  • You want to watch a great sismance.

JAPAN

Boys! Please Kiss Him, Instead of Me (2020)

Genres: Friendship, Music, Comedy, Romance, Youth; Duration: 1 hr. 30 min.; TrailerPanap Media


Serinuma Kae (Tomita Miu), a BL manga fan, is severely depressed when her beloved character dies. For a long time, she refused to eat, which leads to significant weight loss. The updated Kae (Yamaguchi Nonoka) becomes very popular at school, and she immediately has four handsome admirers at once. From left to right: Igarashi Yusuke (Kamio Fuju),  Nanashima Nosomu (Ito Asahi), Shinomiya Hayato (Okuno So), and Mutsumi Asuma (Yoshino Hokuto)
You may want to watch this if:
  • You looked at the picture above, and you thought Japan made a 2020 version of Hana Yori Dango  (2005) with a BL twist.
  • You wish Japan remake their iconic Hana Yori Dango! C'mon, it's been more than 15 years! They should follow Thailand that remake their popular dramas every 10 years or so.
  • You think a makeover by losing weight also consists of plastic surgery. Personally, I don't like movies/dramas on makeovers with casting different actors for the lead character who undergoes the makeover.


Love Me, Love Me Not (2020)

Genres: Friendship, Romance, School, Youth; Duration: 2 hr. 4 min.; 
TrailerFurifura-movie, jp (on Youtube: CC Japanese sub, then auto-translate to English)


In this movie, pick off a petal of a flower to guess who loves who and whether their object of affection returns that affection! The English title is based on a French game effeuiller la marguerite (Wikipedia). Four high school classmates with different personalities and views on love are entangled in this coming-of-age romance. From left to right: Inui Kazuomi (Akaso Eiji), Yamamoto Akari (Hamabe Minami), Ichihara Yuna (Fukumoto Riko), Yamamoto Rio (Kitamura Takumi).
You may want to watch this if:
  • You want to see a high school romance but can't stand the too-slow burn romance in high school dramas. 
  • You want to see character growth in about two hours, not 20+ episodes.
  • You want to see a movie with real shooting locations. This movie was filmed in Kobe. One proud website about the city uploaded shooting locations of this movie.


Your Eyes Tell (2020)

Genres: Friendship,  Romance,  Life,  Drama,  Melodrama; Duration: 2 hr. 3 min.; TrailerGagaIntl


Kashiwagi Akari (Yoshitaka Yuriko) lost her eyesight and family in an accident. While trying to enjoy the small things in her life, Akari struggles to live happily. She mistakes Shinozaki Rui (Yokohama Ryusei) for someone else and begins to talk to him. Rui was once a promising kickboxer under the name of Antonio, but something happened in his past to cause him to disassociate himself from everyone. 
You may want to watch this if:
  • You watched the original Korean movie Always (2011), and you want to watch this one to compare (I haven't watched the original version, so I cannot tell you the comparison).
  • You listened to the BTS song under the same title and want to check out the movie. The movie OST is composed by Jung Kook. This is the first time BTS has contributed music and lyrics to a movie soundtrack (source). Click on the CD cover image to listen to the song.
  • You watched Yoshitaka Yuriko in the quirky Japanese drama Love Shuffle (2009), and you wondered why the actress seems doesn't age after more than a decade.

TAIWAN

Do You Love Me as I Love You (2020)

Genres: Friendship, Romance,  Drama; Duration: 1 hr. 49 min.; TrailerGV Pictures


Tian Xiao Xiang (Chen Yu) is a girl who loves tarot fortune-telling. However, in her heart, she has another love, which is her childhood friend Li Zhu Hao (Tsao Yu Ning). When she was about to confess, Li Zhu Hao first confessed to the campus belle, Song Yi Jing (Patricia Lin), who happened to be Xiao Xiang's bestie.
You may want to watch this if:
  • You thought Taiwan does not make movies anymore. Actually, they have interesting movies, but unfortunately, most of them are not English subbed.
  • You cannot stand watching love triangle through the course of a drama (10 episodes for Japanese, 16 for Korean and Thai, and 40+ episodes for Chinese dramas!)
  • You heard about Hong Kong singer-songwriter G.E.M or listened to her songs. In this movie, she sang the OST "Long After" (很久以後), so you want to check out the film. Click on her picture to watch the English subbed MV.

THAILAND

The Con-Heartist (2020)

Genres: Comedy, Romance; Duration: 2 hr. 10 min.; TrailerGDH


Ina Jitimain (Baifern Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul) was exploited by her ex-boyfriend Petch (Bank Thiti Mahayotaruk) and left her with a huge debt. She, in turn, takes revenge on him by hiring a professional con-man Tower Suppapaisa (Nadech Kugimiya).
You may want to watch this if:
  • You were cheated by your boyfriend, and you want to know how to get back the money you have invested in him.
  • You want to try Thai dramas, but you're afraid of their unique features: villainous family, catfights, slap-and-kiss, guns and gangsters, Thai jokes etc. Start with a Thai movie!
  • You have watched too many dramas with flower boys, and once in a while, you want to see an Asian 3Ms (masculine man with muscles). See the GIF below.  

MORE RECOMMENDATIONS, PLEASE!

That's it, everyone! I sincerely thank the reviewers of these movies. Without their reviews on MDL, I wouldn't have seen the movies! I don't monitor every movie out there like I do with dramas. So keep writing reviews; we all appreciate it!

Feel free to drop new English subbed movie recommendations in the comment below. Although my favorite genres are romance, comedy, and action, but under certain circumstances, we all may want to try other genres. As long as it's entertaining, I just want to keep myself healthy in dramaland.

Until next year for another compilation of movies I will be watching in the second half of 2021!

THANKS FOREADING!


Thank you to the editors who edited this article! I do not own any of the images used. Credits go to the respective owners. Images are from the official stills and posters, drama screenshots, OSTs, and Google search. GIFs are self-made, taken from the drama scenes.


Edited by: YW (1st editor), devitto (2nd editor)

space sweepers seobok a writer's odyssey catman coffee or tea? detective chinatown 3 home sweet home i remember special couple the yin-yang master: dream collectors mission: possible the name the night of the undead boys! please kiss him love me, love me not your eyes tell do you love me the con-heartist

Trending