I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what a tough year 2020 was to cinema. A year that promised many hits and exciting projects from all over Asia ended up with a calendar full of delayed releases.

So then anything that was released, we jumped on and tried to cherish. But like anything there were disappointments, and this is my personal list of 15 Asian movies that really disappointed me this year.

It might have been for one of various or multiple reasons, or my expectations were too high. There may be some movies here you that you really enjoyed.

It’s worth mentioning upfront – I am not saying every movie in this list is bad, just that they disappointed me.

In alphabetical order, let’s take a look - or check out the video below to watch. Each movie listed will also have its video review featured if available:

#ALIVE (Korea)

Not a bad movie, just a disappointment. That’s something I'll say a lot, and #Alive is a great example of this statement.

With an awesome idea that should have made a great movie, what we ended up with was a main character that was unlikeable and a supporting character that made no sense, and the mix that with some illogical scenarios and a strange ending, and you end up with this film.

Maybe it’s the zombie fatigue kicking in, as this is not the only zombie movie in this video, or maybe it’s a case of the trailer being far better than the end result?

ENTER THE FAT DRAGON (Hong Kong)

If you ever plan on remaking a classic Sammo Hung movie, you have to make sure it’s at least as good as his original. And if you throw superstar Donnie Yen into the lead role, then you’d expect it to not only be good, but better.

But that’s not the case with Enter The Fat Dragon.

The original Sammo Hung movie will always be considered a kung-fu classic. But by changing the plot of the movie, the charm of the character is lost. Not even famed action director Kenji Tanigaki and Hong Kong legend Jing Wong could save this disaster of a film, which had a stalled release right at the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns and never recovered.

FUKUSHIMA 50 (Japan)

Another Not a bad movie, just a disappointment is this Japanese drama based on the true story of Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

Starring two massive Japanese actors in Ken Watanbe and Koichi Sato, and based on an exciting true story that gripped the world for days, it’s a real headscratcher how this movie ended up the way it did.

All I know is that an event like Fukushima deserved a better movie adaptation than this.

THE GRAND GRANDMASTER (Hong Kong)

This hulk of utter crap is possibly the equal worst movie of the year. Whoever thought this was a great idea needs to never made movies ever again.

Written, directed and starring Dayo Wong, a man who usually makes very funny films, comes this cringe worthy disaster of a comedy kung fu movie.

The humour is forced, and the slapstick is reminiscent of 80s Hong Kong comedy movies when things like that were actually funny. To top it off is the uninspired performance from Annie Liu who is just there for the paycheck, and you’ve got a movie that you should avoid as much as possible.

HORROR MOVIES (All)

If you follow me, you’ll know that I think 2020 has been an utter disaster for Asian horror movies. Countries whose output are usually top notch produced some of the worst stinkers I’ve ever seen, and I watch a lot of Chinese horror movies which are all bad.

Two movies that I was really excited about, Korean films Hotel Lake and The Closet, disappointed to no end. The worst part about both of these movies is that they start well, and in Hotel Lake’s case a bulk of the movie is really decent. But when they both reached their endings, they both left me unsatisfied. Like really bad fried chicken, and it’s hard to stuff up fried chicken.

Indonesia, which usually makes insane horror films, had a complete write off of a year. But the one that sticks the most in my mind is Janin, or Fetus. Poor special effects, bad acting and a stupid storyline combine to create a movie that ended up making no sense and relied too much on jump scares rather than real horror themes.

Over to Japan, and what were they thinking with the Howling Village? A decent story and introduction sequence ruined by being a movie about dog people, a twist that came out of nowhere and wasn’t explained that well.

And Taiwan didn’t escape unscathed from a stack of horror disasters this year. First is the shockingly laughable The Bridge Curse, a movie that should have been so good considering the producers created the other “Curse” movies and the “Tag-along” series, that was full of so many typical teen  horror tropes it ends up being a comedy and not a horror, and movie that should have been a comedy, the zombie film Get The Hell Out, ended up just being more of an annoyance than anything else. A style that works well for music videos, but not for a full-length movie.

IP MAN: CRISIS TIME (China)

The worst movie on this list, and it had to be Chinese. Ip Man Crisis Time has nothing to do with the Ip Man series other than a shoehorned story that pretends it has links to the great grandmaster.

It looks cheap, it feels cheap, and it is cheap. Lacklustre action scenes with too much wirework, poor special effects and a completely illogical story make this a chore to watch. Even at 75 minutes, its 74 minutes too long.

I know you probably want to watch it because it has Ip Man in the title, but take my advice and leave this movie the hell alone.

PENINSULA (Korea)

Falling into the disappointment category is this big budget Korean zombie thriller. Hopes were very high for this one, when the marketing campaign first came out with the original title of Train To Busan 2: Peninsula, but the Train To Busan bit was quickly removed. And with good reason. This movie isn’t a patch on that.

The zombies are not interesting, the cast are not interesting, and the scenario makes no sense. Korea has been locked off to the rest of the world for years? I don’t think so movie.

Released in the middle of the year, where some countries had cinemas open and others didn’t, this didn’t quite get the full audience it expected, and that’s probably a good thing.

TIME TO HUNT (Korea)

Only a small disappointment, but a disappointment none the less is this Korean action thriller with some sci-fi elements.

And that’s what disappointed me about this film. It started off in this dystopian future Korea with an interesting premise and lots of promise, and then went nowhere with it. If the filmmaker wasn’t going to take advantage of the world they created, why did they do it in the first place?

Again, not a bad film, but the premise just needed some more polish and the concept needed to be integrated into the film better.

VANGUARD (China)

Remember when Jackie Chan movies used to be an exciting event to look forward to? Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and after the release of Vanguard, that’s never been truer.

Delayed by 8 months due to COVID, eventually getting released on September 30, it has poor CGI, stereotypical enemies and forced politics are mixed into set pieces that aren’t exciting and a story that is virtually non-existent. While there is some fun to be had in this movie, it’s not something that you’ll remember a week after you’ve seen it. It’s a shame considering that Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan movies used to be must watch events.

WILD GRASS (China)

Another movie with potential. It had a mysterious trailer that implied it was some type of crime thriller, but in the end, we got a movie that was a drama about transient workers. And with a heavy unwanted social message to boot!

The disappointing part of this movie is that it promised equal screen time for the three leads played by Elane Wong, Sandra Ma and Johnny Huang. But instead the movie focusses far too much on Elane Wong’s dancer character, leaving the more interesting characters played by Sandra Ma and Johnny Huang to fight over the scraps of screentime left.

Which is a shame as the setting of mid 90’s in a booming China, coupled with the way all three characters are intertwined, should have been a recipe for an interesting film.

Well that’s my list of 15 Disappointing Asian Movies from 2020. What did you think? What were some of the movies that you were looking forward to that you ended up not enjoying?

Or, are there movies in my list that you thought were great?

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