Learning Chinese – Famous Film and Television

Part of learning Chinese is learning the culture, and what better way than to watch TV and Films that have been popular in China. This article introduces some popular movies and TV series in order for you to watch whilst improving your Chinese.

Learning Chinese

I feel that watching these series, also brings you closer to understanding the cultural identity of the Chinese people, as they themselves have grown up watching these TV shows and films. Also by having a wider knowledge on the subject, it gives you much more to talk about in general conversation with Chinese speakers. It shows you that you are a person with a wide amount of knowledge and people will more readily make friends with you. By being ignorant to the Chinese entertainment industry, you are being ignorant to Chinese people and since entertainment is basically one of the cornerstones of society in our modern age, it plays a big part in how accepted you are with Chinese people.

The only problem with learning through watching, is that many of the Chinese shows are massively long sagas that will take up a lot of your time to watch fully, so if you are short of time, just at least watch 2 or 3 episodes in these series, so you get the general idea.

Another problem is that a lot of shows haven’t been translated into English because of the lack of interest from English speakers, so you need some decent knowledge of Chinese to understand the basis of many of these shows.

A final problem is that a lot of shows popular in China, are made in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, and so use the native language from that area. Many times they aren’t dubbed into Mandarin but have Chinese subtitles. Subtitles are something the Chinese are much more used to that Westerners and it’s more accepted because of the use of simplified and traditional Chinese and the nearly universal appearance of them being used as subtitles on many show. Only recently has the Chinese Mainland started to really compete with the other areas for influentially made Mainland Chinese tv shows and films. However Hong Kong and Taiwan shows especially have made the biggest impact on Chinese people in the past decades.

Here I’ve made a list of the most influential TV series and films that have been watched in China. Obviously the one not made in China will be in their natural language, so you can skip some of these if you only want to practice listening to Chinese, but I recommend watching them anyway as they’ve had influence in China, and it will help you identify more with people who’ve grown up in China by watching the same shows. The first 3 here, are what I think have been the most popular TV shows in China in recent times, and so you should definitely check them out.

Meteor Garden- Taiwanese TV Drama

Meteor Garden

Notable for propelling the careers of Barbie Hsu, Rainie Yang and F4(Jerry Yan, Vanness Wu, Ken Chu and Vic Chou). A romance drama that is based on a Japanese manga. This show has spawned multiple off-shoots in other countries, such as Korea and Japan. However the Taiwanese version remains as the most influential,

Hua Zhu Ge Ge – Taiwan/China collab TV Drama

Pearl Princess

Probably the most famous TV series in China, with the highest viewer count. It’s a series based on the historic legend of the Pearl Princess during the Qing Dynasty. It’s split into 3 seasons, but only really season 1 and 2 are necessary for watching, as the 3rd was a cash-cow with different actors and not very popular. The series made the careers of Zhao Wei, Ruby Lin, Alec Su,  Fan Bing Bing and further cemented the career of Zhang Tielin.

Journey to the West(1986) – Chinese TV Series


A very famous TV series in China, that spans many episodes. Journey to the West is a household name in China, because it’s regarded as one of the most famous stories and legends in China. The TV series is quite dated now and has relatively low production costs, the costumes and effects are quite basic, but the TV series is still enjoyable to watch. Recently a movie by Stephen Chow was made of the same saga, essentially as a prequel movie to the start of the journey.

The rest of the list I won’t go into detail with, but all are worth checking out.

New Legend of Madame White Snake
Huai Yu Gong Zhu
The Royal Monk
Ke Wang
A Beijinger in New York
Demi Gods and Semi Devils
Legend of Eagle Shooting Hero
Sad Love Story
Winter Sonata
Hard Boiled
All About Eve
The Dream of Red Mansions
KO One – Taiwan
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka – Both Anime and Japanese TV Drama
My Sassy Girl – Korean Film
Red Cliff – Chinese Film
He was Cool –
The Bund
Police Story – Chinese Film
A moment of romance
All for the Winner
God of Gamblers
A Better Tomorrow
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Raise the Red Lantern
To Live
Not One Less
Fist of Fury
The Big Boss
Way of the Dragon
Enter the Dragon
The Shaolin Temple(1982)
Drunken Master
Chungking Express
Legend of Zhen Huan

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