List of Asian historical drama films

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Historical drama is a film genre in which stories are based on historical events and famous persons. Some historical dramas attempt to accurately portray a historical event or biography, to the degree that the available historical research will allow. Other historical dramas are fictionalised tales that are based on an actual person and their deeds.

Due to the sheer volume of films included in this genre and in the interest of continuity, this list is primarily focused on films pertaining to the history of East Asia, Central Asia, and India. For films pertaining to the history of Near Eastern and Western civilisation, please refer to list of historical drama films.

The films on this page are divided into regions, and within each region the films are listed chronologically by subject matter.

Central Asia[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Setting Notes
Mongol 2007 1161-1227 Mongolia based on the early life of Genghis Khan
The Conqueror 1956 1161-1227 Mongolia universally panned as a terrible film, this English-language film starred John Wayne as Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan 1965 1161-1227 Mongolia the life and conquests of the Mongol emperor
Genghis Khan 1950 1161-1227 Philippines Life of the Mongol Emperor and the Succession of his throne.
Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea 2007 1161-1227 Mongolia Japanese-Mongolian film about the life of Genghis Khan
The Golden Horde 1951 1220 Uzbekistan English-language film about an English knight who leads the defense of Samarkand against Genghis Khan
The itim Rose 1950 1220 China English-language film about an English Saxon who travels China and meet a Mongol warlord
Tsogt Taij 1945 1634-1637 Mongolia Mongolian language film about the patriotic struggle of Prince Tsogt Taij (1581-1637).
Queen Mandukhai the Wise 1988 1449-1510 Mongolia Mongolian language film about the life of Queen Mandukhai (1449-1510) who reunited the Mongols.
Nomad 2006 early 1700s Kazakhstan about the early years of Ablai Khan (early 18th century), a Kazakh khan in part of what is now Kazakhstan.
Kundun 1997 1950 Tibet an American film depicting the early life of the 14th Dalai Lama and the 1950 invasion of Tibet and subsequent events
The Beast 1988 1981 Afghanistan during the Soviet war in Afghanistan
Kandahar 2001 2000 Afghanistan Afghanistan during the Taliban regime

South Asia[edit]

Indian subcontinent history[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Notes on setting
Siddhartha 1972 c. 563-483 BC about the life of a boy and his search for a meaningful way of life
Gautama Buddha 2007 c. 563-483 BC about the life of Gautama Buddha
Amrapali 1966 c. 500 BC based on the life of Ambapali in India
Sikandar 1941 326 BC Indian-made film set in 326 BC, after Alexander the Great has conquered Persia and pertains to his conquest of the kingdoms of Pauravas (in modern Pakistan and northwest India).
Asoka 2001 273-232 BC fictionalized account of the reign of Ashoka (r. ), of the Mauryan Empire in India
St. Thomas 1975 52 - 72 missionary work of Thomas the Apostle in India
Mayura 1975 345 - 365 Kannada film based on the Kadamba Dynasty's King Mayurasharma set in India
Ambikapathy 1937 1083 a love story set in India in 1083
Urumi 2011 1497-1502 the Santosh Sivan film is based on a fictional story about a young Indian who tried to kill Vasco da Gama.
Mughal-e-Azam 1960 1569-1605 a fictional story about the Mughal era depicting conflict between King Akbar and his son Crown Prince Salim over Anarkali.
Jodha-Akbar 2008 1556-1605 during the reign of Moghul Emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605), depicts his marriage to a Hindu princess Jodhaa Bai. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker and stars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in leroles.
Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story 2005 1627-58 Directed by Akbar Khan. This movie entails the story of Shah Jahan (r. 1627-58) and his Queen Mumtaz Mahal (1593–1631). Mumtaz was the love of Shah Jahan's life, and the monument this Mughal emperor built to honour his deceased love was the Taj Mahal (constructed from 1632 to 1653).
The Deceivers 1988 1825 about Thugees in India in 1825
Veer 2010 1825 set during the 1825 Pindari movement of Rajasthan, when India was ruled by the British. Directed by Anil Sharma stars Salman Khan in lerole.
Shatranj Ke Khiladi 1977 1856 (The Chess Players, 1977) entailing the East India Company's annexation of the kingdom of Oudh (Awadh) from Wajid Ali Shah in 1856 on the eve of the Sepoy Mutiny.
Junoon 1978 1857 about a love story between one of the Rebels of 1857 in Rohilkhand and an Anglo-Indian woman that he has held hostage (along with her mother and grandmother).
Mangal Pandey: The Rising 2005 1857 about Mangal Pandey and the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Lagaan 2001 1893 a fictional account of a cricket game between the villagers of Champaner in what is now Gujarat and the local British cantonment played in an effort to cancel the "lagaan" (grain tax levied by the British Raj in India).
Gandhi 1982 1869-1948 Academy Award winning film by Sir Richard Attenborough about the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero 2005 1897-1945 Sachin Khedekar stars as Indian freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945)
Dharmputra 1961 1947 about the violence that marked the Partition of India in 1947. Set in Delhi, the movie focuses on two fictional families: that of the Hindu Gulshan Rai and Muslim Nawab Badruddin. Dilip (played by Shashi Kapoor is the illegitimate son of the nawab's daughter Husn Bano, but he is unaware of it. Dilip grows up to become a Hindu fundamentalist that participates in the communal violence during partition. Will Husn Bano and her Hindu son learn to live with one another in an atmosphere such intense sectarian hatred?
1947 Earth 1998 1947 A partition film, directed by Deepa Mehta
Gadar: Ek Prem Katha 2001 1947 Another movie featuring the 1947 partition starring Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel in a Sikh-Muslim love story.
Pinjar 2003 1947 with regards to the partition of Punjab. This film is based on the Amrita Pritam story of the same name.
Hey Ram 2000 1947-1948 A period drama told in flashback, the semi-fictional plot centres around India's Partition and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
Partition 2007 1947 one of the more recent films on the Indian partition.
Zubeidaa 2001 1940s and 50s a semi-biographical account of writer Khalid Mohamed's mother, the actress Zubeida Begum that is set in the late 1940s and the 1950s.
Border 1997 1971 about the Battle of Longewala in the Indo-Pakistani war
1971 (film) 2007 1971 based on the plight of Indian prisoners of war in the aftermath of 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
Pazhassiraja (2009 malayalam) 2009 1795 - 1805 based on the life of king Pazhassiraja who faught against British rulers. Mammootty played main role
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar 2000 1890s - 1950s Biopic of the first Law Minister and Chairman of the Indian Constitution Drafting Committee. Mammootty played Dr B R Ambedkar.
Sardar 1993 1870s - 1950s Paresh Rawal played the title role of India's first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in this biopic of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Alluri Sita Rama Raju 1974 1897 - 1924 Historical Telugu language film based on the life of Indian freedom fighter Alluri Sita Rama Raju.
 There are many more Indian historical movies which are not on the list, especially if movies concerning what may be called mythological movies, are hundreds.

Sri Lankan history[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Notes on setting
Wijaya-Kuweni 2012 543-505 BC based on the historical tale of Wijaya-Kuveni
Siri Parakum 2013 1153A.C-1186A.C based on the historical legend of King Parakramabahu I
Aba 2008 437–367 BC based on the historical legend of King Pandukabhaya
Mahindagamanaya 2011 250 BC based on arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka
Siri Dalada Gamanaya 2012 300s based on venerated of Tooth relic to Sri Lanka
The God King 1974 473 based on the historical clash between brothers Kasyapa and Moggalana on Sigiriya Rock
Kivulegedara Mohottala 1987 1817–1818 based on freedom fighter Kivulegedara Mohottala and Great Rebellion of 1817–1818
Vera Puran Appu 1979 1812-1848 based on freedom fighter Puran Appu

East Asia[edit]

Chinese and Taiwanese history[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Notes on setting
The Last Woman of Shang 1964 1075-1046 BC a Hong Kong film about Daji, a concubine of King Zhou of Shang
Sacrifice 2010 607-581 BC based on the play The Orphan of Zhao, set in the Jin state during the Spring and Autumn Period
Confucius 1940 551-479 BC thought to be a lost film, but was rediscovered in 2001 and restored
Confucius 2010 505-479 BC starring Chow Yun-fat as Confucius
Little Big Soldier 2010 475-221 BC an action-comedy film set in the Warring States period, about a war between the Liang and Wey states
A Battle of Wits 2006 375-369 BC set in the reign of King Lie of Zhou
An Empress and the Warriors 2008 475-221 BC set in the Yan state during the Warring States period
The Warring States 2011 ca. 316 BC set in the Warring States period (475-221 BC), loosely based on the rivalry between Sun Bin (d. 316 BC) and Pang Juan (d. 342 BC)
The Emperor's Shadow 1996 259-210 BC about a troubled friendship between Qin Shi Huang and the musician Gao Jianli
Wheat 2009 260 BC the story of women left behind when their husbands went to war during the Battle of Changping
The Emperor and the Assassin 1998 227 BC based on the assassination attempt by Jing Ke on Qin Shi Huang
The Great Conqueror's Concubine 1994 206-202 BC a Hong Kong film set in the Chu–Han Contention
White Vengeance 2011 206-202 BC loosely based on the Feast at Hong Gate and events in the Chu–Han Contention
The Last Supper 2012 206-202 BC based on events in the Chu–Han Contention
Red Cliff 2008 winter of 208-209 epic war film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs
The Lost Bladesman 2011 219 a Hong Kong film loosely based on the story of Guan Yu (d. 219) in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon 2008 229 a Hong Kong film about Zhao Yun, loosely based on parts of the novel Romance of Three Kingdoms
Mulan Joins the Army 1939 ca. 567-571 based on the legend of Hua Mulan
Mulan 2009 ca. 386-534 based on the legend of Hua Mulan
Shaolin Temple 1982 619-621 starring Jet Li, based on the story of Shaolin Temple help Li Shimin
The Empress Wu Tse-tien 1939 650-705 based on the story of Wu Zetian
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame 2010 684-690 a Hong Kong film based on a fictional account of Di Renjie, set in the reign of Wu Zetian
Warriors of Heaven and Earth 2003 700 an action-adventure film set in Xinjiang
Trilogy of Swordsmanship (Part 2: The Tigress) 1972 860s a Hong Kong film (only Part 2) set during Pang Xun's rebellion
General Stone 1976 880s a Hong Kong film about Li Cunxiao
The Heroic Ones 1970 880s a Hong Kong film about Li Keyong's generals
All the King's Men 1983 950s a Taiwanese film about Chai Rong's last days
Great Liao's Empress Dowager 1995 969–982 a Chinese film about Empress Xiao Yanyan
Saving General Yang 2013 980s a Hong Kong film about the Generals of the Yang Family legends
The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter 1983 980s a Hong Kong film about the Generals of the Yang Family legends
The Eight Diagram Cudgel Fighter 1985 980s a Hong Kong film about the Generals of the Yang Family legends
Generals of the Yang Family 1984 980s a Chinese film about the Generals of the Yang Family legends
The Silk Road 1988 1026 a Japanese film about Western Xia
The 14 Amazons 1972 1030s a Hong Kong film about the Genearals of the Yang Family legends
Legendary Amazons 2011 1030s a Chinese film about the Genearals of the Yang Family legends
The Journey to Xixia Empire 1997 1087 a Chinese film about Western Xia (Xixia)
Marco Polo 1982 1254-1324 an American-Italian television miniseries about the Venetian explorer who traveled to China and served in the court of Kublai Khan
The Sino-Dutch War 1661 2000 1645-1662 based on the story of Koxinga (1624-1662), with the focus on the Siege of Fort Zeelandia
The Opium War 1997 1839-42 historical epic film about the First Opium War, told through the eyes of Lin Zexu and Charles Elliot
The Warlords 2007 1850–1864 set in the Qing Dynasty during the Taiping Rebellion
The Empress Dowager 1975 1835-1908 a Hong Kong film about Empress Dowager Cixi
Li Lianying: The Imperial Eunuch 1991 1848-1911 the Qing Dynasty eunuch Li Lianying
Fearless 2006 1868–1910 a biographical film about late Qing Dynasty martial artist Huo Yuanjia
55 Days at Peking 1963 1900 an American film starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven and set during the Boxer Rebellion
Empire of Silver 2009 1899-1901 a Hong Kong film set in the Qing Dynasty during the Boxer Rebellion
Red River Valley 1997 1903-1904 about the British expedition to Tibet
The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake 2011 1875-1907 a biographical film about revolutionary Qiu Jin
Road to Dawn 2007 1910 about Sun Yat-sen's life in Penang from July to December 1910
Magnificent 72 1980 1911 about Lin Juemin and the Second Guangzhou Uprising, with a brief scene of Qiu Jin's arrest in 1907
Bodyguards and Assassins 2009 1911 a Hong Kong film set in British colonial Hong Kong near the end of the Qing Dynasty. The events in the film led to the Wuchang Uprising
1911 2011 1911 about the Xinhai Revolution
The Founding of a Party 2011 1921 about the formation of the Communist Party of China in 1921
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale 2011 1930 Film depicting the plight of Taiwanese aborigines of the Seediq tribe during the period of Taiwan under Japanese rule, and their role in the Wushe Incident.
7 Man Army 1976 1933 a Hong Kong film depicting the Defense of the Great Wall
Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre 1994 1937 a Hong Kong film about the Nanking Massacre
Don't Cry, Nanking 1995 1937 the Nanking Massacre
City of Life and Death 2009 1937 dealing with the Battle of Nanjing and its aftermath, the Nanking Massacre
John Rabe 2009 1937 a biographical film about John Rabe and his experiences in the Nanking Massacre
The Flowers of War 2011 1937 about a group of escapees caught up in the 1937 Battle of Nanking
The Spring River Flows East 1947 1937-1945 the trials and tribulations of a Chinese family through the Second Sino-Japanese War
On the Mountain of Tai Hang 2005 1937-1945 about the Eighth Route Army, set in the Second Sino-Japanese War
The Children of Huang Shi 2008 1938 about George Hogg leading 60 orphans across China in an effort to save them from conscription during the Second Sino-Japanese War
Bridge 1949 1927–1950 the Chinese Civil War
Yangtse Incident 1957 1927-1950 a British film about the British frigate HMS Amethyst getting caught up in the Chinese Civil War
Tunnel War 1965 1937-1945 about a small town defending itself by use of a network of tunnels during the Second Sino-Japanese War
Hong Kong 1941 1983 1941-1945 a Hong Kong film set in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong during World War II
Men Behind the Sun 1988 1937-1945 a Hong Kong film depicting war atrocities committed by the Japanese Unit 731 during World War II
The Last Emperor 1987 1906–1967 an Academy Award winning film about China's last emperor Puyi
Assembly 2007 1927–1950 epic war film set in the Chinese Civil War
The Soong Sisters 1997 1911-1949 about the Soong sisters
A City of Sadness 1989 1947 Taiwanese historical drama film sets immediately after WWII in the late 1940s. The film was the first to depict the 228 Incident of 1947, an anti-government uprising that was quelled.
Decisive Engagement(zh) 1991 1949 about Liaoshen Campaign, Huaihai Campaign and Pingjin Campaign
The Founding of a Republic 2009 1949 about the founding of the People's Republic of China
24 City 2008 1958-1980 A docudrama film about the generations of people who worked in state factories during the industrialization and were demolished during the modernization of China.
Forever Enthralled 2008 1894–1961 biographical film about Peking opera artist Mei Lanfang
Tokyo Trial 2006 1904-1973 presenting the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal from the point of view of Mei Ju-ao
Aftershock 2010 1976 the aftermath of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake

Japanese history[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Notes on setting
Gate of Hell 1953 1159 award winning Japanese film about a samurai involved in a love triangle
Kagemusha 1980 1575 Akira Kurosawa film centered around the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.
Samurai Trilogy 1954 - 1956 1600 - 1612 Hiroshi Inagaki Inagaki's Oscar winning trilogy centered around the life of Miyamoto Musashi, from the Battle of Sekigahara to his duel with Kojiro Sasaki on Ganryu Island.
Seven Samurai 1954 1587-1588 Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece set around 1587/1588 during Japan's Warring States Period.
Ran 1985 ca. 1600 Akira Kurosawa’s epic adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear set in 16th century Japan.
Shōgun 1980 1600 American mini-series based on the novel by James Clavell, loosely based on William Adams, the English navigator who served as a key advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu beginning in 1600.
The 47 Ronin 1941 1701-1703 released just before the attack on Pearl Harbor and depicting the famous actions of the Forty-seven Ronin in 1701-1703.
Chushingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki 1962 1701–1703 another film about the Forty-seven Ronin
Bushido Blade 1981 1854 about the forced opening of Japan in 1854.
The Last Samurai 2003 1877 fictional story based around the Satsuma Rebellion
Tora! Tora! Tora! 1970 1941 detailing the events leading up to and including the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Midway 1976 1942 about the Battle of Midway between Japan and the United States in 1942.
The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 1942-1945 about allied prisoners of war forced to work on the Burma Railway during World War II.
Letters from Iwo Jima 2006 1945 Japanese-language film directed by Clint Eastwood about the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
Hiroshima 1995 1945 docu-drama about the events leading up to the use of the first atomic weapons in 1945.

Korean and South Korean history[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Notes on setting
Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield 2003 660 set during the Battle of Hwangsanbeol
A Frozen Flower 2008 1330–1374 set during the late Goryeo Dynasty.
The Divine Weapon 2008 1418–1450 set during the reign of Sejong the Great.
The King and the Clown 2005 1494–1506 set during the reign of Yeonsangun of Joseon.
Blades of Blood 2010 1500s set during the 16th century.
Sword in the Moon 2003 ca. 1600 set during the beginning of the 17th century.
War of the Arrows 2011 1636-7 set during the second Manchu invasion of Korea.
Shadows in the Palace 2007 1600s set during the 17th century.
Chi-hwa-seon 2002 1843 - 1897 about the life of Korean painter Oh-won.
The Sword with No Name 2009 1800s set during the 19th century.
Taegukgi 2004 1950–1953 set during the Korean War
Welcome to Dongmakgol 2005 1950–1953 set during the Korean War
71: Into the Fire 2010 1950–1953 set during the Korean War
The Front Line 2011 1953 during the Korean War ceasefire.
Silmido 2003 1970s based on a military uprising on Silmido island
The President's Last Bang 2005 1979 based on the assassination of Park Chung-hee

Southeast Asia[edit]

Philippine History[edit]

Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Setting Notes
Banaue:Stairway to the Sky 1974 c. 500 BC. Philippines The film depicting the Prehistory of the Philippines, and the construction of the Banaue Rice Terraces.
Amaya 2010 1400-1521 Philippines The film depicting the Philippines During the Classical Period.
Lapu-Lapu 1955 & 2002 1491–1542 Philippines The life of the first hero of Philippines, and death of Magellan.
Indio 2011 1601-1677 Philippines An Epic Historical-fiction story about the Spanish Conquest and Philippine revolts against Spain.
Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? 1970 1870-1895 Philippines The Film Depicts the Hispinized Society of the Philippines during the Spanish Period.
José Rizal 1998 1861-1896 Philippines The life of the Philippine National Hero, José Rizal.
Bayani (Hero) 1992 1863-1897 Philippines The life of Andres Bonifacio.
Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio (The Trial of Andres Bonifacio) 2010 1863-1897 Philippines The life of Andres Bonifacio.
El Presidente 2012 1886-1962 Philippines The life of the first president of the Philippines Emilio Aguinaldo.
Baler 2008 1898 Philippines During the Siege of Baler.
Aguila 1980 1989-1940's Philippines Philippine History
Tirad Pass: The Story of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar 1997 December 2, 1899 Philippines About the Battle of Tirad Pass, Philippine Campaign Against Americans leby General Gregorio Del Pilar .
Rosario 2010 1920s Philippines The life of Rosario, a girl during the American Occupation Period. She was Manuel V. Pangilinan's grandmother.
Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita 2004 1941–1945 Philippines About the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines in World War II.
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos 1972 1942-1945 Philippines Philippines during World war II
Santiago! 1965 1941-1945 Philippines Depicting the Philippine Campaign during World War II
Dekada '70 2002 1970s Philippines Based on the novel of the same name by Lualhati Bautista. The setting is period of Martial law.

Mainland and Maritime Southeast Asia[edit]


Sortable table
Title Release date Time period Setting Notes
Blood Letter 2011 c. 1442 Vietnam About the retaliation of Tran Nguyen Vu (Nguyen Trai's grandchild) for his grandfather death in 1442. The movie was based on Bui Anh Tan's bestselling of the same name.
King Naresuan (film) 2007 1555-1592 Thailand (Siam) The film is set after event in The Legend of Suriyothai about Naresuan, the King of Siam who was executes the plotters and ceremoniously declares Ayutthaya free and sovereign from Hanthawadi
Krakatoa, East of Java 1969 1883 Indonesia Nominated for Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, featured the 1883 eruption of the volcano on the island of Krakatoa.
The Rebel 2007 1920s Vietnam (French Indochina) Set in Vietnam in 1920s, under colonial French rule.
Indochine (film) 1992 1930s Vietnam (French Indochina) French film set in the twilight of colonial French Indochina during the 1930s.
Paradise Road 1997 1939-1945 Indonesia About the event of World War II on the island of Sumatra.
Leftenan Adnan 2000 1940s Malaysia About the experiences of Adnan bin Saidi as a soldier during World War II.
The Merdeka Trilogy: Merah Putih 2009 1947 Indonesia About the struggles of the Indonesians throughout the Indonesian National Revolution.
The Merdeka Trilogy: Darah Garuda 2010 1947 Indonesia About the struggles of the Indonesians throughout the Indonesian National Revolution.
The Scent of Green Papaya 1993 1950s Vietnam Set in 1950s Saigon.
The Quiet American 2002 1952 Vietnam Set in Vietnam in 1952, and pertaining to emerging violent factions in the area and early CIA involvement.
The Year of Living Dangerously 1982 1960s Indonesia Directed by Peter Weir, about the Transition to the New Order or vivere pericolosamente.
The White Silk Dress 2006 1968 Vietnam Directed by Luu Huynh. It is about a tragedy in Vietnam War.
The Killing Fields 1984 1973 Cambodia About the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. The film begins in 1973.

See also[edit]