To shake things up and practice your Mandarin while you’re at it, we’ve rounded up our top 5 favorite Chinese movies - 中国电影 (zhōng guó diàn yǐng) - available on YouTube that you can enjoy in your free time.
All of these movies are also pretty suitable for Chinese language learners at the Intermediate level or above, but even Beginner students can benefit from the exposure to 'real world' Mandarin (and use subtitles for a boost).
Plus, since they’re all on Youtube, you can watch these movies embedded in the post below! Let’s get right to it!
#1: 不能说的秘密 (bù néng shuō de mì mì) - Secret
The well-known Chinese singer 周杰伦 (zhōu jié lún) - Jay Chou plays the main character in this movie, so if you’re a fan of his, this is definitely up your alley!
The film tells the story of a young piano student who falls in love with a girl, but there’s a key secret that puts a strain on their relationship.
Overall, the language used is a good fit for those with Intermediate level Chinese and up!
Watch it here:
#2: 那些年我们一起追的女孩 (nà xiē nián wǒ men yì qǐ zhuī de nǚ hái) - You Are the Apple of My Eye
This movie is a great representation of the culture of Chinese youth. This nostalgic Taiwanese film tells the story of a group of friends in school and their struggles and growth throughout adolescence, with an underlying story of romance, as the title suggests.
The film uses a lot of colloquial Chinese, so it’s a great pick for Mandarin learners! Please also keep in mind, depending on the versions/scenes included in the film, it is best suited for those ages 18+.
Watch this movie here:
#3: 活着 (huó zhe) - To Live
This is one of the most famous movies directed by 张艺谋 (zhāng yì móu) - Zhang Yimou, one of the most well known Chinese directors of all time.
This 90s film is a true depiction of Chinese history, from the Sino-Japanese War to the Cultural Revolution, showing how people’s lives changed during these times and the struggles they encountered. You’ll follow the lives of a poor married couple, including moments of great struggle and tragedy, as well as moments of happiness and hope.
This movie uses a good amount of everyday language, so it’s suitable for Chinese language learners as well.
Watch it here:
#4: 失恋33天 (Shī liàn sǎn shí sān tiān) - Love is Not Blind
This is a romantic comedy that was a huge hit in China! It follows the 33-day healing journey of a young wedding planner who has recently broken up with her boyfriend for being unfaithful.
The movie is funny and offers some great life lessons as well. The language used is also super colloquial, so it’s great for Chinese learners!
Watch the movie here:
#5: 十面埋伏 (sì miàn mái fú) - The House of Flying Daggers
This is another popular movie directed by 张艺谋 (zhāng yì móu) - Zhang Yimou! It is an action movie set in the Tang Dynasty, full of great fight scenes and amazing cinematography.
The movie is about the struggle of the government to regain control of China from several rebel groups. One of those groups is, as the name suggests, the House of Flying Daggers, with a purpose of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The film also has an underlying love story as well.
If you’re a fan of martial arts films, this is a great choice! While there is some more advanced Chinese used, there is also quite a bit of colloquial Chinese in there as well. This is also a movie that would probably be best suited for those ages 18+.
Watch this movie here:
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our post on our top picks for Chinese TV shows to watch during quarantine as well!
If you’re just starting out learning Chinese, be sure to check out our Beginner Conversational Course! The first level (with over 40 lesson videos!) is completely FREE, including all of the great study tools like flashcards, quizzes, and more, so start now with Lesson 1:
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What's Your Favorite Chinese Movie?
Start a conversation and share your favorite Chinese movie in the comments below!