The 10 Best Vietnamese Films That You Will Love Watching

When growing up, I watched many “Vietnamese” movies, only to later realize that they were, in fact, American movies. I am talking about American war movies like “Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket,”, “Platoon”, “Hamburger Hill” or “Good morning, Vietnam.” Although entertaining and some movies are sort-of Amerians-feeling-guilt movies, I was not interested much.

After watching American war movies, all I could recall about Vietnam were explosions, guns, and a questionable and out-of-date way of dividing Americans and Vietnamese into “civilized” and “savage” groups.

All of these American movies have one more thing in common- The Vietnam war, or as they call it in Vietnam, The American War.

It’s no surprise that we only see Vietnam from this movie’s perspective. The reality is different, however. As these “Vietnam movies’ ‘ don’t tell you anything about Vietnamese culture.

So, I will talk about the best Vietnamese films instead. These movies on Vietnam by the Vietnamese directors not only cover The American War but they also cover the country’s culture, history, and social life.

Vietnamese Movies Best

Best Vietnamese Films You Should Watch

The movies about Vietnam that we are going to discuss show how beautiful the country is. As most of the movies involve Vietnamese directors and actors, they show its people and culture, providing a personal point of view.

So, let’s discuss the best movies about Vietnam by the Vietnamese directors.

1. Song Lang (also Song Lang in English) - 7.7/10

Song lang, which literally means “two men,” is a percussion instrument used in modern Vietnamese folk opera called “cải lương.” The idea is that its rhythms guide the opera on a moral life path.

This instrument is the philosophical backbone of Leon Le’s film Song Lang, set in the world of the cải lương theater. At first sight, it may look like just another tragic love story, but it’s much more than that. Song Lang beautifully combines elements of artistic drive, abandonment, and karma.

Le does an excellent job of getting Phat and Isaac to deliver an empathic performance. The lack of acknowledgment of their love for each other makes every emotion speak volume in a stranded relationship.

The movie remains one of the best Vietnamese films for its impressive production design, palpable mood. You can rent the movie on Amazon Prime. I also recently covered the best French movies, where I talked about Blue Is The Warmest Color, another great movie on LGBTQ.

2. The White Silk Dress (Áo lụa Hà Đông) - 7.5/10


The movie is set against a background of poverty stricken Northern Vietnam, amid crumbling colonial rule of French in 1954. The film follows the life of a couple, Dan and Gu, whose devotion to each other and their daughters is symbolized by a precious white silk dress.

Despite the hardships and looming threat of war, the white silk dress acts as a beacon of hope. It also symbolizes themes of tradition, sacrifice, and the unyielding spirit of the Vietnamese people.

Luu Huynh, the Vietnamese-American director is known for advocating for women’s rights and disadvantaged groups. So, it is no surprise that he uses the film medium to shed light on the plight of underprivileged groups.

Interestingly, it is one of the most expensive Vietnamese movies ever made. If you are interested in the war-meets-drama genre, this is one of the best Vietnamese movies to watch.

3. Don’t Burn (Đừng đốt) - 6.8/10


Don’t Burn (Đừng đốt) follows an American soldier named Fred Whitehurst during the Vietnam War. While attacking a village, Fred finds a diary in an abandoned field hospital. With the help of his teammate Huan, he translates the diary of Dang Thuy Tram, a doctor who used to work at the field hospital.

After 35 years, Fred brings the diary to Texas Tech University to attend a seminar on the Vietnam War. From here, the story eventually finds its way back to the surviving family of martyr Dang Thuy Tram.

It is one of the best Vietnamese films that honors the brave sacrifices of the medical doctor and the Vietnamese people made for the fatherland. The movie does so by choosing the diary’s very detailed facts about the war and its strange journey. As the movie is based on a true story, which makes it one of the best Vietnam movies.

Don’t burn (Đừng đốt) is not available on streaming platforms, but you can stream free on YouTube.

4. Three Seasons - 7.2/10


Three Seasons is one of best Vietnam movies set in the post-war era that captures the country’s transformation during economic and cultural turmoil. The narrative uses three interconnected stories, each representing the different class.

The first story follows Kien An, a young lotus flower picker who comes across a poet suffering from leprosy. Through their interactions, we explore themes of beauty, pain, and the enduring human spirit.

The second story is about Hai, a cyclo driver who becomes infatuated with Lan, a beautiful prostitute. Their somewhat tragic relationship highlights the socioeconomic divide and the longing for a better life.

The third narrative involves Woody, a street-smart orphan who sells trinkets to survive. One day, he meets James Hager, an American veteran returning to Vietnam to find his long-lost daughter. This cross-generational exchange between the two serves as a way to heal, and a way to come to terms with history.

It is one of the best movies about Vietnam where we see a society changing and dealing with the post-war times. If you like interconnected stories, I recently covered Amores Perros in the best Mexican movies.

5. Story of Pao (Chuyện của Pao) - 6.8/10

Story of Pao (Chuyện của Pao) is one of the best Vietnam movies that follows a Hmong girl searching for her birth mother. The movie is set in a beautiful mountainous area of Northern Vietnam. The reason Pao looks for her birth mother is because she was raised by her stepmother. As Pao never met her mom, she calls her “that woman.”

However, the situation changes completely when Pao’s stepmother dies. Eventually, her father feels lonely and starts drinking heavily. When drunk, he calls for her mum. Despite Pao disliking “that woman,” she brings her back home to make her father feel less lonely. It is one of the best Vietnamese films that is not just about finding someone but also discovering uncomfortable family secrets.

The 98-minute film was based on a short story based on actual events. The movie won four Golden Kite awards (the Vietnamese Oscars) and was Vietnam’s official entry to the 2007 Academy Awards. A very moving story about how complicated and deep relationships can be.

6. The Buffalo Boy (Mùa len trâu) - 6.9/10


The Buffalo Boy is one of the best Vietnamese films about the Mekong Delta’s seasonal floods during the 1940s. In the Mekong Delta’s surroundings, families are heavily dependent on their water buffalo for plowing fields. And each flood season, they must lead their buffaloes to higher and safer grounds.

The film particularly follows Kim as he undertakes this journey for the first time. Along the journey, he meets wise buffalo herders and deals with the physical and emotional challenges . He also learns about the shared hardships within his community and the deep bond between his people and their animals.

If you love coming-of-age movies, it is one of the best Vietnamese movies that delves on the coming of age theme in a rural setting. Otherwise, you can find plenty of movies on this theme in urban life.

7. Furie (Hai Phượng) - 6.3/10


Furie is one of the best Vietnam movies on Netflix. The film revolves around Hai Phượng, a former gang member turned single mother. She comes back to the violent underworld when her daughter is kidnapped by a ruthless trafficking ring.

Eventually, we see the relentless pace of Hai Phượng’s quest to rescue her daughter. Along the way, she confronts old enemies and new adversaries, where each fight shows her strength and sheer willpower. It is one of the best Vietnam movies where you see finest martial arts skills and unyielding maternal love.

The movie is set both in the bustling streets of Saigon and the countryside. So, both settings add depth and contrast to the story. What is constant, however, is the violent underworld. If you like martial arts fighting movies, you can stream this one of the best Vietnam movies on Netflix.

8. Dreamy Eyes (Mắt Biếc) - 6.9/10


Dreamy Eyes (Mắt Biếc) is a sad and unrequited love story of a young boy Ngan from the village of Do Do who falls in love with childhood friend Ha Lan. 

As both are childhood friends, we share their journey from innocent youth to the bittersweet complexities of adulthood. Ngạn’s deep feelings for Hà Lan remain the same from childhood to adulthood.

However, as they grow older, Hà Lan is drawn away from the simplicity of village life by the allure of city life. As Hà Lan absorbs the urban life, Ngạn remains steadfast in his love. The film’s cinematography vividly contrasts the peaceful beauty of their village with the stark, bustling energy of the city, a common contrasting theme in best movies Vietnam.

It is one of the best Vietnam movies on unrequited love. If you like movies about unrequited love, you should also check another gem, In The Mood For Love.

9. The Scent of Green Papaya (Mùi đu đủ xanh) - 7.3/10

The Scent of Green Papaya was the first Vietnamese movie nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It was also the first movie that Vietnam sent in for the award. In this first film, director Tran Anh Hung uses a slow and meditative atmosphere filled with Buddhist metaphors.

It is set in Vietnam between the late 1940s and early 1960s. It is told from the point of view of a poor young woman Mui, who works for a merchant family. She does everything with utmost attention around her. With time, her kind heart gradually wins over her more busy and cynical employers.

However, the situation changes when a concert pianist becomes fond of Mui. If you love classic movies, vintage colors, and beautiful angles, this is one of the best Vietnamese films. It also teaches you about plenty of Vietnamese cultural traditions.

You can stream The Scent of Green Papaya (Mùi đu đủ xanh) on Amazon.

10. Father and Son (Cha cõng con) - 7.1/10


Father and Son is one of the best movies about Vietnam that starts in a peaceful riverside village. In a village, a fisherman Moc and his son Ca live a simple but happy life. They both work, rest, and play in the valleys of the northern Vietnamese province of Ha Giang.

His son Ca has many dreams until he suddenly falls ill. As the boy gets sicker, Moc goes to the city to get Ca the necessary medical care. However, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, they both deal with the noise and chaos of a modern metropolis. You can see how the cities make them feel physically and mentally out of place.

Moc is also facing serious money issues, but his son’s dreams and willpower keep him going. The question is: will it be enough to save him?

Vietnamese Movies Best

A Recap of the Best Vietnamese Movies

Although war-themed American films have shaped our perception of Vietnam, the best Vietnamese films in our list offer an entirely different perspective. These best movies about Vietnam, directed by Vietnamese filmmakers, provide a country’s vibrant culture, deep-rooted traditions, and intricate social dynamics. They capture everyday life, love, struggle, and resilience from an authentic and personal viewpoint.

Similarly, in the best Vietnamese movies, we see serene landscapes of rural villages and bustling energy of city life, a common theme of movies on Vietnam. If you want to know Vietnam better, watch these movies about Vietnam by Vietnamese rather than war-torn portrayals found in many Western productions.

Vietnam Movies. More Like This?

I hope this post with the Best Vietnam Movies by Vietnamese Producers helped you to discover new Vietnamese movies by local directors.

If you need more movies recommendations, have a look at some of my other posts or sign up for the newsletter below.

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