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YumCha! Picks: 10 + 1 Movies for the Summer

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Summer is the prime season for big blockbuster releases, but it's also ripe inspiration for smaller movies about puppy love, youth adventures, and that summer way back when. We've picked ten of our favorite sun-soaked movies for the summer, plus one extra for kicks. Do any of these stories sound like your summer?

1. Catch a Wave (2006)
Japan's first surfing movie Catch a Wave is what summer is all about - beach, sunshine, and hanging out with annoying friends. Beautiful blue skies and ocean waves are never too far away in this youth crowd-pleaser about three 16-year-old boys who dedicate their summer to living on the beach and learning how to surf. Miura Haruma fills the teen heartthrob quota as the wannabe surfer who wants to catch a wave before the summer's end, and prove himself to the cute surfer girl played by Kato Rosa. The best part? His surfing instructor is Takenaka Naoto.

2. Formula 17 (2004)
One hot summer, a 17-year-old innocent (Tony Yang) heads to the big city, and dives headfirst into first love and first heartbreak with an innocent-at-heart playboy (Duncan Chow). DJ Chen's Formula 17 capitalizes on the familiar but always welcome youth romcom formula of attractive leads and a silly-sweet story set to an energetic pop soundtrack. The twist: everyone in the movie is male, and residing in a bright and buoyant Taipei free of females. Taking orientation angst out of the equation, the gay-romantic-comedy-that-could appeals to a broad audience with summer love and quirky humor - it was Taiwan's highest-grossing domestic film of 2004.

3. HaHaHa (2010)
Summertime misadventures aren't just for doe-eyed teenagers; there are also immature adults. Two men reminisce over drinks about a summer trip gone wrong in festival darling Hong Sang Soo's wry, naturalistic comedy HaHaHa. The film cheekily criss-crosses each man's accounts of their time in the Korean port town of Tongyeong, revealing to the audience but not to the protagonists that their stories and relationships actually cross over. What starts as a summer liaison becomes a layered, laughable tangle of near misses among mutual friends and needy lovers.

4. Hot Summer Days (2010)
The first Chinese-language film produced by Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, this blockbuster romance chronicles several intersecting love stories that bloom during a killer heat wave that hits Hong Kong and China. Directors Tony Chan and Wing Shya offer a slick, polished Chinese counterpart to the Hollywood romantic comedy genre in which the stars - including Jacky Cheung, Rene Liu, Daniel Wu, Vivian Hsu, Nicholas Tse, and Barbie Hsu - are as attractive as the visuals. A hit in China despite its wintery Valentine's Day release, Hot Summer Days represents a new brand of chic, stylish commercial films coming out of the Chinese film industry.

5. Orz Boys (2008)
Two young troublemakers terrorize the adults in their lives while hatching a trip to a fantasy water park in Yang Ya Che's award-winning charmer Orz Boyz. Even though the "Orz" in the title is an emoticon that stands for a person bowing in failure, these two boys - simply named No. 1 and No.2 - are anything but sorry about the troubles they cause. Taking place in a small coastal town near Taipei, Yang's directorial debut is a whimiscal comedy-drama that was a surprise box office hit in Taiwan thanks to Yang's poignant depiction of childhood and his imaginative use of magical realism.

6. 700 Days of Battle: Us vs The Police (2008)
Some teenagers like to spend their summers reading quietly at home, and some like to start a prank war with the local police officer. Based on a popular internet novel, 700 Days of Battle stars Ichihara Hayato as the leader of a michievious group of teenagers that decide to play a series of pranks on the uptight new policeman in town (Sasaki Kuranosuke). Soon, the policeman decides to fights back, turning a series of juvenile pranks into an all-out civil war within the town. Despite its episodic structure, 700 Days of Battle is a hilarious comedy about the carefree, inconsequential nature of youth, and how a little summer mischief can help these teenagers grow into adults.

7. Summer Breeze of Love (2002)
The first time is the most memorable: first love, first movie. Twins' first film together back in 2002 features the girls at the height of their youth and cuteness. That was all that mattered then, and it's all that matters now. Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi are best friends out to find their first boyfriends in their last summer before adulthood. The candidates are a cheating bad boy (Tsui Tin Yau), a spaced-out otaku (Roy Chow), and a divorced forty-year-old (Dave Wang). It's a weak field of guys, but Twins are adorable and wistful to the highest degree in this summer diversion directed by Joe Ma, Hong Kong's early oughties youth romance master.

8. Summer Time Machine Blues (2005)
Bayside Shakedown director Katsuyuki Motohiro lets loose with this hilarious low-budget time travel comedy. Adapted from a stage play, Summer Time Machine Blues follows the time-traveling adventure a group of sci-fi geeks embark on one summer day when they decide to go back in time to fix their clubhouse's broken air conditioner. Both a loving tribute and a clever parody of time travel films like Back to the Future, Summer Time Machine Blues features a smart script and a likable cast led by Eita and Ueno Juri, who will later reunite in the popular Nodame Cantabile television series.

9. Summer Wars (2009)
Nothing captures that zany, anything-could-happen spirit of summer like the animated film Summer Wars. Director Hosoda Mamoru ushers in the digital age with an online community so extensive and engrained in daily life that an aberration in the virtual world spells the end of the real world! In contrast to the imaginative sci-fi battlefield, the film's characters and setting are endearingly traditional. Set at a countryside manor filled to the rafters with chatty, feuding family members, the film makes heroes of a computer nerd and everyday avatars called upon to fight the crazy Summer Wars.

10. Waterboys (2001)
For Japanese high school seniors, summer is the time to study for university entrance exams. However, a group of young men learn that it's also the perfect time to try out new extracurricular activities. In Waterboys, writer-director Yaguchi Shinobu offers the most unlikely sport possible to challenge his ragtag group of teenage heroes: synchronized swimming. This gut-busting comedy - based on a true story - offers plenty of laughs at the expense of its young cast (including Tsumabuki Satoshi and an afro-donning Tamaki Hiroshi), but it also ends with one of the most amazing and inspiring finales ever captured in a sports film. The film proved to be so popular with Japanese audiences that it even spawned two television series.

+1. Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp (2010)
Fun in the sun may be all well and good but in Korea, summer is when all the horror movies come out. And what could be more terrifying than intensive summer camp with disagreeable classmates? How about being literally trapped in school with an unknown psychopathic killer on the loose? Summer school really can kill you in the teen horror Death Bell 2, but at least hot young stars Park Ji Yeon and Yoon Si Yoon are around to soften the bloody deaths.

Published August 9, 2011

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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