Published By: Jayati

Understand the true potential of Japanese thrillers: Watch these 4 thrillers to understand the genre

Japanese films have always been a dominant force in global cinema!

Japan has greatly contributed to the art form of cinema for more than a century. This is because of the great artists who explored the medium in diverse ways. Japan has rich historical and cultural traditions that also play a huge role in the development of its varied cinematic language. Japanese films served as inspiration for a variety of genres, including contemporary neo-westerns and several Hollywood science-fiction blockbusters. However, one genre in particular, thrillers, is done particularly well in Japan. The films on this list are excellent, and if you are a fan of nail-biting thrillers, you should definitely read till the end!


‘Cure’ starts with a very ominous tone. The first twenty minutes of the motion picture will seem almost supernatural, like a horror film. The narrative follows a detective who is trying to crack a peculiar case and how his obsession with it drives him to the point of total insanity. The film features brilliant performances from everyone in the cast, particularly from Koji Yakusho, who plays the titular role of the detective. The haunting original score by Gary Ashiya also helps create the atmosphere that director Kiyoshi Kurosawa tried to curate so meticulously.

High and Low

A story about class differences and moral dilemmas, ‘High and Low’ has a plot that will attract the typical thriller fan. The central crux of the film is a kidnapping gone wrong and the chaos that ensues right after. One of the greatest merits of this film is the air of suspense that continues to gradually build throughout the runtime. The story does not allow the audience to divert their attention. From the very first frame to the last, the viewer is engrossed in the plot. Directed by the great Akira Kurosawa, the film features performances by the evergreen Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai in the titular roles.


A true-to-core Yakuza film, ‘Hanabi’, is the magnum opus of comedian-turned-director Takeshi Kitano. The plot of the movie takes us to the underbelly of crime and gang activity. The motion picture garnered a lot of critical acclaim because it refused to show violence in spite of the plot which typically demands the showcasing of bloodshed. It featured Takashi Kitano himself as the titular character. ‘Hanabi’ took home the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival due to its sheer brilliance.

Face of Another

Written by novelist Kōbō Abe, and directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara. ‘The Face of Another’ is a story about stolen identities and unrevealed thoughts. The movie perfectly exemplifies what thrillers should look and feel like. The plot revolves around a man who has recently undergone facial reconstruction surgery and the consequences of the procedure.