Good Chinese (Mandarin) Movies and TV series to study Chinese?
July 6, 2019 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for good Chinese (Mandarin) Movies and TV series to study Chinese. Must be in Chinese (Mandarin) and should be interesting. Furthermore, they should be freely available to watch or download. Suggestions welcome.
posted by yoyo_nyc to Education (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Availability for most commercial modern Chinese media will be an issue, but I freely recommend Nirvana in Fire - historical fantasy with stellar writing and really good production values. I admit I watched it... unofficially, especially since I needed subtitles.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:18 PM on July 6

Try - I really like that you can click on a subtitle and it will give you pinyin and English definition. YouTube has Chinese TV channels for the various provinces, such as Hunan TV, Guangdong TV etc. Some of the shows are subtitled but perhaps just a small minority.

I don’t have recommendations for anything that’s really good. For language learning I think lot of exposure is the way to go, even if plots leave much to be desired. You can learn lots of Chinese from cheesy movies and tv shows!
posted by GliblyKronor at 5:24 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]

Maybe look into Chinese dubs of media you're already interested in? I grew up watching Studio Ghibli films dubbed in Mandarin and I still find them a great source of comfort today--depending on your fluency this could be a nice place to ease in.
posted by brieche at 10:42 PM on July 6

Hard to narrow down such a rich movie history to some few bests without knowing more what kinds of movies you enjoy, but some that might work are:

Raise the Red Lantern a historical drama
House of Flying Daggers an action costume drama. Both directed by Zhang Yimou

Yi Yi a modern family drama directed by Edward Yang (Taiwan)

A City of Sadness historical drama
Flowers of Shanghai historical drama
The Assassin all by Hsiao-Hsien Hou (Taiwan)

Still Life modern domestic dramas by Zhangke Jia

A Touch of Zen
Dragon Gate Inn Wuxia movies by King Hu

Inframan Outlandish fantasy/sci-fi

Have a Nice Day Animated Coen-esque thriller

The Blue Kite drama
King of Masks drama
Xiu Xiu the Sent Down Girl drama

Or for a TV serial wuxia drama I really enjoyed Laughing in the Wind, though it's almost 20 years old and TV has changed a lot since then

Just to note, that I don't speak Mandarin myself, I'm relying on IMDb for the language and some of the above were made in Taiwan, so there may be some differences in dialect or some of the choices might feature a Cantonese alternative version. You didn't specify whether you also wanted subs, most listed have them, some as options others directly on the vids.

The directors mentioned are worth looking into further as they are some of the most highly regarded from China and Taiwan and have numerous titles widely available that you might be able to find for free elsewhere. I only checked youtube. There are also many other great movies, both older and more recent, I couldn't find free on youtube worth seeing, so I didn't list any of them. I'm not up on other recent TV shows to recommend, but some are available online as well if that's more what you're looking for. Hope this provides at least some workable option for you. No guarantee how long these links will last or if they work everywhere.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:56 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

I used to watch woju 蜗居 on youtube- a very well-done contemporary soap opera about life in modern-day Shanghai for transplants from other parts of China.

Another good soap opera I watched on youtube was Chinese-Style Divorce 中国式离婚. A bit more dated, but still well-done.

(These are both Mainland series)

Youtube has a lot of Chinese/Mandarin shows on it.
posted by bearette at 7:08 AM on July 7

Try 天天向上. It’s a game/talk show and they cover a lot of cultural info as well. Lots of episodes and clips are available on YouTube.

非诚勿扰 is also good. It’s a Chinese dating show, and they have filmed some episodes in the US with ABCs (American Born Chinese), which is super interesting. Also available on YouTube.
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:22 AM on July 7

CCTV on Youtube has all the olde Journey to the West episodes in a convenient playlist, and each episode has subtitles in Simplified characters & English. The best adaptation with the best Wukong & best soundtrack, imo.

(Personally I think it's a crime that these were uploaded without the full glorious opening theme song, but as far as I can tell, all the interstitial and in-episode music has been left intact!)
posted by rather be jorting at 1:48 PM on July 7

Gusottertrout, while that list of movies includes a bunch of classics, most of them are actually completely unsuitable for Mandarin learners because they either use a lot of esoteric historical/literary vocabulary or they’re literally not in Mandarin.

The first movie I remember being able to understand only listening to the Chinese dialogue and watching the Chinese subtitles and enjoying was The Road Home (我的父親母親) by Zhang Yimou. Not sure of the online availability of that.

If you’re willing to watch talk shows from Taiwan, I enjoy watching 爸媽囧很大. They interview a bunch of 20-somethings about their hopes and their experiences (I’m afraid I’ll never make enough money to find a girlfriend, I want to become a YouTube star, the first time I had sex was in high school, etc.) and then the hosts ask their somewhat shocked parents for their reactions. The language is pretty easy and there are hundreds of episodes on YouTube.
posted by alidarbac at 6:47 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]

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