Top 10 Asian superhero movies
Writer: Florey DM
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's an Asian superhero!
Boom! Zap! Ka-pow!
Anyone familiar with the world of comic books and superheroes should know those 'superheroic' sound effects.
While practically the whole world is well aware of the existence of super-powered heroes such as Superman, Spider-Man, Batman (there's a pattern here...), many are unfortunately none the wiser when it comes to their counterparts on the other side of the world (this side).
Cinema Online is here to save the day (we have a heroic side, too)! We donned our capes, put on our spandex and spent many hours scouring the dark underbelly of the – okay, no, not really. But we did work hard to compile this list of superheroes who hail from the great Asia.
Now bear in mind that Asia is one vast continent. Therefore, the scope has been narrowed to include only superheroes in movies from South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.
With a Boom! and a Zap!, we present to you our top 10 choice of the most Ka-pow! Asian superhero movies.
If Malaysia ever meets trouble of a catastrophic proportion, local hero Cicakman will be the one to save the country. The red-clad superhero, whose Malay name literally means 'the lizard man', first appeared in action comedy "Cicakman" in 2006. Two years later, a sequel followed; "Cicakman 2 – Planet Hitam". Both movies starred Saiful Apek as the titular hero but in the upcoming threequel, Zizan Razak steps in to don the cicak suit. "Cicakman 3" sticks onto the big screen this March, where Cicakman will once again goes into action protecting the City of Metrofulus.
Sieu Nhan X
Someone sipped your pho, bit your Vietnamese rolls? Then it's time to call Sieu Nhan X! That means Superman X in Vietnamese, by the way. Okay, maybe he will not respond to such paltry requests for help but since he is Vietnam's answer to the plethora of superheroes out there, the undefeatable masked hero is sure to serve where justice is needed. Ngo Kien Huy plays the superhero in the movie "Sieu Nhan X", which takes place in the magnificent city of Ho Chi Minh where the hero of justice fights off a group of dangerous criminals, who has kidnapped the heroine in order to steal her diamonds.
The Red Eagle
Superheroes based on awesome animals are a given, so it comes as no surprise that Thailand would choose an eagle to base its superhero on. In "The Red Eagle", the titular superhero, played by Ananda Everingham, goes after the criminals and the corrupt – killing whatever threatens the city's well-being. He even helpfully leaves a card with his name on it, in case anyone wonders who has been saving or going against them. The superhero was once portrayed by Mitr Chaibancha, who unfortunately met his demise while filming the helicopter stunt in the final scene of 1970's "Insee Thong".
Here's one not often seen in a superhero movie, a cross-dressing superhero with a penchant for fabulous hair. Aming Supriatna Sugandhi stars as Adam in "Madame X", a hair dresser whose alter ego is the titular superhero. When the city is threatened by the presence of a villain that goes by the name Kanjeng Badai and his homophobic, militant political party, Adam whips his hair back and forth (not really) and transforms into a makeup bag-totting, high heeled superhero. Strong martial arts expertise combined with sleek dance moves make Madame X one smooth criminal-buster. The movie was selected to be screened at the 5th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.
You'd think the title of a superhero movie would highlight the superhero's name, but Bollywood gives us a twist by highlighting the villain's name instead. In this multiple award-winning film, Shah Rukh Khan stars as a game designer who created G.One (also played by Khan) and Ra.One (played by multiple actors due to its shape-shifting ability), game characters that came to life with the latter being the antagonist with the title credit. Another award-winning sci-fi movie, "Enthiran", is also a good watch for fans looking for a similar movie as it tells of a scientist struggling to control his creation, an upgraded humanoid robot that eventually falls for his girlfriend and starts causing destruction.
The first Tamil superhero movie is dedicated to Bruce Lee, hence the reason for the protagonist's name being Bruce Lee. Jiiva stars as a martial arts expert who has eyes on Police Deputy Commissioner Gaurav's daughter Shakthi. He shows off his martial arts skills while dressed up in a superhero costume just to impress his lady love and her elder sister's kids. One day, he assists the police in nabbing a thief while still in his costume. This kickstarts his career as the masked vigilante of the city. The movie has also been dubbed in Hindi, retitled "Mahabali Ek Super Hero", and Telugu under the title "Mask".
What started off as an extraterrestrial movie ended with a superhero franchise. The titular superhero Krrish inherits his father's superhuman abilities and after saving a group of children, finds himself regarded as a superhero. He first appeared in the 2006 sequel to the multiple award-winning "Koi... Mil Gaya", with Hrithik Roshan playing the role of Rohit in the 2003 sci-fi film, and reprising the role as well as portraying Rohit's superhero son in the sequels that follow. "Krrish" and 2013's "Krrish 3" are both multiple award-winning blockbuster hits. The success of the franchise has spawned games, comics and even kids' shows.
K-20: Legend of the Mask
Unfortunately for fans of Takeshi Kaneshiro, the actor has to hide his chiseled features under a mask in this Japanese movie (see title). This is another movie where the villain's name gets the title credit. Granted, the superhero in this movie also bears the same name...the point is moot. Here comes the explanation: the superhero has to take on guise of his enemy (see title, again) in order to clear his name by hunting down the villain who accused him of being the villain himself. The movie is set in an alternate 1949, where World War II never took place.
City Under Siege
Take a group of circus performers, expose them to experimental gas left by the Japanese army in World War II – effectively turning them into super-powered mutants, and see the chaos unfold as they start to misuse their newfound powers. Except one. He turns into a superhero. Aaron Kwok stars as the hero Sunny, the one who would stop his circus fellows from wreaking further havoc in the city. The rest of the cast is made up of Shu Qi as Angel, Collin Chou as Zhang Dachu, Zhang Jingchu as Xiuhua and Wu Jing as Sun Hao.
Stan Lee's Annihilator
So this one comes from the same creator as Hollywood's Spider-Man, but this still counts because Wang Leehom is Asian-American. The superhero he will portray in the upcoming movie is created specifically for the Chinese market and the movie itself will be set in China. Wang will star as Ming, a young Chinese man who has the choices of either staying cooped up in prison or enlisting in a top secret US super soldier program. Any sane young man would opt for the latter, of course. Thus, a somewhat reluctant superhero is born. The movie is set to be released sometime this year.
Cinema Online, 05 March 2015