Before I travel in a new country I always try to watch movies which are set in the place where I want to visit. It’s a good way to get a quick look at the culture and the sceneries.
There’s a lot of movies which are set in South East-Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Burma…), unfortunately the most famous are generally war movies like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, etc…
So here is a selection of ten movies to watch before you go to South East Asia. I tried to put all kinds of genre such as action, drama and comedy. I’ll probably write another article about movies set in South East Asia because there’s a lot which are worth watching.
Thanks to leave a comment if there’s other movies that you might recommand.
1 – The Beach/1999
If you haven’t read the book I suggest you do so ! The Beach tell the story of an american backpacker who just arrived in Thailand and get a map showing how to get to a hidden beach on an island in the gulf of Thailand. Together with a french couple they will try to discover the place.
If you don’t watch it before going to Thailand you will probably find a bar in Khao San Road which shows it.
2 – The Lady (2011)
Very interesting to watch if you plan to go to Burma (also called Myanmar). The Lady tell the true story of Aung San Suu Kyi (interpreted by Michelle Yeoh), an opposant to the military dictatorship of her country and who must stay under survey residency for many years. The story revolve mainly around the relationship whith her husband and her family.
3 – The Impossible (2012)
Inspired from a true story, The Impossible tell the story of an american family who is split during the tsunami of december 2004 which killed 240 000 people. They will try to find each other after the catastrophy. The special effects are really good.
4 – The Killing Field/1985
A movie which tell the taking over of Phnom Penh by the Khmers rouges, in Cambodia. The story is mainly focused on a journalist from the New York Times and his assistant, Dith Pran, who will be arrested and who will have to survive under the Khmer regime which killed around 1,7 millions people.
5 – Indochine/1992
A french drama/Love story who is set in Indochina (in Vietnam more exactly) during the french colonisation, from the end of the 20’s to the 50’s and the independance. A good part of the movie is set in Halong Bay and shows beautiful sceneries. The soundtrack is also very beautiful. This movie won an Oscar for best foreign movie.
6 – The Hangover 2/2011
The sequel of the first Hangover, with a similar scenario but this time it’s in Bangkok. You love it or hate it, but personaly I laughed a lot, especially during the flashback scene when they are kids.
7 – The bridge on the river Kwai/1957
A movie realised in 1957, adapted from a novel from Pierre Boulle, itself inspired from a true story: the construction of a bridge in the thai jungle by prisonners of war under the orders of the japanese military. This bridge had to link Thailand with Burma by a railway and thousands of POWs died during it’s construction. This movie won seven Oscars.
8 – John Rambo/2008
The last Rambo movie, realised by Stallone himself and set in Burma (but was shot in Thailand). Rambo will have to help mercenaries in the search of a group of humanitarian voluntaries who disapeared in Burma. Beware, there’s a lot of gore scenes which shows well the violence of the military dictatorship.
9 – Beyond Rangoon/1994
Last movie about Burma and it’s military dictatorship: Beyond Rangoon tell the story of the repression during the protests of 1988, told by an american tourist who is stuck in Burma after she lost her passport. The soundtrack is made by Hans Zimmer and is amazing.
10 – Metro Manila/2013
A good movie to watch before you go to the Philippines, whit a story set in Manila. It’s about a famer from the North of the Philippines who has no choice but to go to Manila with his family to find a jib and get money. Some bad thing will happen to him until… There’s a lot of suspense in this movie and the end is worth it.