Learn a New Language By Actually Speaking It
Try for 100 Days
100-Day Risk-Free Trial Trusted by 200,000+

15 Top Chinese Movies and TV Shows That You Should Watch Today

From Bruce Lee to Jacky Chan, China has some iconic figures that are known globally. But I bet you didn't know these top Chinese movies and TV shows.

With 20% of the world’s population, it’s hard to neglect anything that China produces, including cinema. Since the early 1930s, cinema in China has steadily grown into a major player in the world of filmmaking.

Top Chinese movies and TV shows, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, have only further cemented the country’s hold on the world of moving pictures, and they show no signs of stopping. Aside from welcoming many Hollywood studios, the country boasts the rank of number one in the world for screens, and number two in terms of box office receipts.

What this means is that life for people who are learning Chinese has never been better. In addition to being able to learn Chinese via music and hysterical (yet NSFW) insults, you can now accelerate your growth through watching Chinese films that won’t only entertain, but also boost your skills. B

ut before we get to our list of 15 top Chinese movies and TV shows that you should watch today, it’s important to understand how to watch them in order to learn Chinese faster.

Learn Chinese with Top Chinese Movies and TV Shows

1. Watch top Chinese movies and TV shows you’ll enjoy

There’s nothing worse than wasted time. And watching boring movies and TV shows in Chinese is the surest way to do that. The reason why is because if you’re not engaged in the material you’re viewing, you’re more likely to tune out and learn less. So, find movies and TV shows that feature stories, characters and settings you’ll enjoy watching for a few hours.

2. Watch Chinese movies and TV shows with other language learners

Watching movies and TV shows, especially when trying to learn a language, is fine, but watching it with other people learning the same language is better. You’ll each be able to pick up on different words, quiz each other on how much of the story you actually understand, and then be able to discuss it for days afterwards, further cementing your learning until the next time you watch a movie or TV show together.

3. Stick to one country/region

The thing about Chinese films and television is that the label of “Chinese,” often extends to entertainment created in Hong Kong, as well as Taiwan. This mixing of countries and sovereign territories is great, but it can be somewhat of a headache when you’re trying to make heads or tails of different accents, dialects and everyday vernacular. The best way to avoid confusion is by sticking to one country/region for the films and TV shows you watch.

4. Use subtitles (ideally in your native language)

If you’re just starting out, don’t be a hero. Use subtitles. The desire to jump in headfirst without anything to help you is tempting, but it could end up further confusing you. Using subtitles will help you to learn more of the language, and you can shut them off as you progress.

5. Watch it more than once

This is key. Watching a movie or TV show once won’t help you much. People often forget much of what they’ve learned within days or weeks of learning it, and language is no different. In order to truly give yourself the best chance of learning Chinese, and accelerating your learning, you need to watch the same movies and TV shows a handful of times, which is why tip number one is so important.

As you watch the same movies and TV shows more and more, you’ll happily realize that you also understand more.

15 Top Chinese Movies and TV Shows That You Should Watch Today

The time has come. We know, you’ve waited forever. Below is a hand-picked list of top Chinese movies and TV shows that you should watch today, tomorrow and then the day after that. Okay, you don’t have to watch them all at once or ever every day, but be sure to give a handful of them a chance and start improving your Chinese today.

1. Farewell My Concubine

Genre: Drama
Length: 171 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

This film is a classic drama centered around a love triangle. Two male members of the Peking Opera, Douzi and Shitou, rise to stardom and one develops feelings for another. A women enters the scene, who courts one of the actors and, well, tragedy ensues.

2. House of Flying Daggers

Genre: Dram
aLength: 171 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

While there are a lot of martial arts in House of Flying Dagger, it’s ultimately a romance. It takes place in the 9th century, when the Tang Dynasty is declining and various groups form to fight against the powers that be. A woman lands herself in prison, and a lovestruck police captain frees her, setting of a series of events that put love, character and friendship to the test.

3. The Blue Kite

Genre: Political Drama
Length: 140 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

The story takes place in 1950s Beijing. Upon completion, the film was banned by the Chinese government, so you know it’s good. The story revolves around a young boy who watches his family, and country, grow during times of unrest and turmoil.

4. Scarlet Heart

Genre: Time slip
Length: 35 episodes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

Scarlet Heart is a TV series about a young woman, Zhang Xiao, who has an accident that causes her to travel back in time to the reign of the Qing Dynasty. As you can imagine, things were a bit different back then, and Xiao has to figure out how to survive in a world unlike her own.

5. The Legend of Bruce Lee

Genre: Biographical/Martial Arts
Length: 50 episodes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

We know that the name of the show speaks for itself, but, in case it doesn’t, this TV series is about the man, the myth and the legend, Bruce Lee. It’s based on the extraordinary life of not a Chinese icon, but a global phenomenon, and gives viewers and exciting look into how he got to where he did.

6. iPartment

Genre: Sitcom
Length: 84 episodes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

The show focuses on seven young folks who live in the same apartment complex. They each lead their own lives, but, of course, their stories become interwoven in hilarious ways. If you’re into drama, comedy and millennial hijinks, you’ll love iPartment.

7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Genre: Action
Length: 120 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

Of course, we had to include this all-time classic. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is about a Chinese youth who steals a sword from a swordsman (never a good idea), which sets off the adventure of a lifetime including love, death and a hell of a lot of martial arts.

8. To Live

Genre: Drama
Length: 132 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

This family drama centers around a gambler who wins a ton of money and dies happily. No, no it’s not. It’s about a gambling man who loses it all, including his family, and spends years trying to forge a life out of the peasantry he earned for himself. Fortunately, things get better, but then they get worse.

9. The Grandmaster

Genre: Martial Arts Drama
Length: 130 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin/Cantonese
Trailer link

The film centers around Ip Man, a real-life Wing Chun grandmaster whose incredible life inspired millions, including his most notable student, Bruce Lee.

10. City of Life and Death

Genre: Historical Drama
Length: 133 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

In 1937, the Japanese occupied the Chinese capital of Nanjing. While there, they carried out an unspeakable massacre, and the film focuses on this as well as what life was like for the refugees at that time. It’s truly a must-see.

11. Stray Dogs

Genre: Drama
Length: 138 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

Stray Dogs is a film about a homeless family consisting of an alcoholic father, and his son and daughter. They wander the streets of Taipei in search of food and a bit of humanity. The father and children usually go about their days separately, only to reunite at night to sleep and wash themselves. It’s a sad and unfortunate depiction a harsh reality that too many people in the world face each day.

12. Lost in Thailand

Genre: Comedy
Length: 105 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

Since the last one we listed was a bit dark, it’s time for a comedy. Lost in Thailand centers around two scientists in search of their boss, and another man, acting as a third wheel, on a road trip to Thailand. As you can imagine, the three men constantly make a mess of things, which is bad for them, but great for anyone looking to laugh.

13. Hero

Genre: Action
Length: 99 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

Hero, another classic. Jet Li stars as a nameless character who heads to the capital city Qin to meet with a king who recently survived an assassination attempt. Li’s nameless character claims to have slain those who made the attempt, and what plays out is a meeting of the minds between Li’s character and the king who doesn’t know if he can trust him.

14. The Mermaid

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 94 minutes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link

Set in a world where mermaids are real (and potentially deadly), The Mermaid is about a rich man named Liu Xuan who uses sonar technology to kill all of the sea life surrounding an area of land he purchases. Of course, the sea life don’t take kindly to that, and a mermaid is sent to assassinate him. It’s the second highest-grossing film of all time in China, so you know it’s good.

15. Lurk

Genre: Spy Thriller
Length: 30 episodes
Type of Chinese: Mandarin
Trailer link: (NA)

Lurk takes place right after WWII ends. The Japanese have surrendered, and a civil war breaks out in China. A man named Yu Zecheng becomes a spy for the Community Party, infiltrating the Kuomintang’s (Nationalist Party of China, which is different than the Communist Party) secret police. Leading a double life for Zecheng is difficult, and any slip-up could lead to his own execution.

And there you have it, a list of top Chinese movies and TV shows that will not only make you laugh and cry, but also help you speak Chinese as if you’ve known it for years.

Do you constantly feel intimidated when you speak a new language?

Speak With Confidence on Day 1

Join 100,000+ learning to speak confidently in 3 weeks with Jumpspeak's AI Immersion Method.
Start Speaking
Get Unlimited Spanish Conversation Practice.
Get access to our free language hacking course.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.