The 10 Best Foreign-Language Films on Netflix

Joel Lee 01-09-2017

Are you tired of formulaic movies that keep hitting the same exact plot points and exhibiting the same exact character arcs? Are you sick and tired of seeing the same exact tropes, like the so-called “Protagonist Throw” that’s been ruining action films for years now?


Maybe it’s time to take a break from Hollywood 6 Things Hollywood Always Gets Wrong About Technology From the depiction of detectives doing things that just can't be done yet, to showing us last century’s gadgets being the standard for the future, Hollywood often gets technology wrong. Read More and explore the cinematic efforts of other countries.

One thing I love about Netflix is its commitment to showcasing films from around the world — and foreign films are great because they tend to explore styles, tones, and themes that you’d never see in mainstream Hollywood. Foreign films are breaths of fresh air in a stale landscape.

We have picked out 10 of the best foreign-language films on Netflix. You don’t have to watch the entire list, but we do recommend checking out at least 3-5 of them so you can get a true sense of how fresh and unique cinema can be when you broaden your horizons.

1. Train to Busan (2016)

Action/Horror | IMDb: 7.5 | RT: 95%

Train to Busan is an amazing take on zombies How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse Whether you personally believe that the zombie apocalypse is long overdue or that it's never going to happen, doesn't it pay to be prepared? Read More , taking the genre and elevating it to new levels with a sympathetic cast and a surprising amount of character growth. This critically-acclaimed film earns its stripes not through its thrills, of which there are plenty, but its emotional swells.


Whereas most zombie movies shoot for fear and suspense, Train to Busan understands that characters sit at the core of compelling cinema. Yes, the zombies are nightmarish — reminiscent of 28 Days Later — but you’re really watching this for the hope of repaired relationships.

Watch Train to Busan on Netflix now

2. Oldboy (2003)

Mystery/Suspense | IMDb: 8.4 | RT: 80%

Koreans are exceedingly good at revenge films, and one could argue that the original Oldboy paved the way for all the other revenge films of the past decade. Note that this film was remade in 2013 by Hollywood and it bombed, so steer clear of that one.


Oldboy follows a man who was kidnapped and held captive for 15 years, then released without ever knowing who kidnapped him or why. While primarily a mystery, Oldboy is intense and gruesome, particularly towards the end. Do not watch if you have a weak stomach.

Watch Oldboy on Netflix now

3. Trollhunter (2010)

Fantasy/Horror | IMDb: 7.0 | RT: 82%

Trollhunter is a suspense horror shot in the same found-footage style of The Blair Witch Project from a decade earlier. But instead of teenagers lost in a haunted forest, Trollhunter follows students who track down and document the activities of a supposed troll hunter.


It’s an incredible film that makes smart use of its framing device, and it’s awesome to see a take on trolls that’s so different than what we’ve come to expect. One word of warning: as with all found-footage movies, Trollhunter may induce motion sickness!

Watch Trollhunter on Netflix now

4. Amelie (2001)

Romance/Comedy | IMDb: 8.4 | RT: 89%

Most movies that aim for feel-good stories The Best Romantic Comedies on Netflix This Valentine's Day Want to Netflix and chill? Here are the best romantic comedies to watch on Netflix, whether it's Valentine's Day or not. Read More tend to crash and burn, more likely to invoke cringes and eyerolls than a warmed heart. But Amelie is the rare success. Critics praised it, casual viewers loved it, and all because this whimsical tale is also an emotional one.


Amelie is about an innocent Paris girl whose goal is to live life helping those around her, and she does this by covertly intervening in their lives. But beneath her kindness are her own struggles with tragedy, loneliness, and distance.

Watch Amelie on Netflix now [No Longer Available]

5. 13 Assassins (2010)

Action/Adventure | IMDb: 7.6 | RT: 96%

If you want a proper epic action film The Best World War II Movies to Watch on Netflix Here are the best World War II movies to watch on Netflix, allowing you to witness fictional slices of history. Read More , then look no further than 13 Assassins. This remake of the 1963 film of the same name is a period drama. Set in 1800s Japan when a high-ranking lord is threatening the way and honor of the samurai, 13 assassins are hired to dispatch him.

What’s wonderful about 13 Assassins is its attention to detail, the excellent fight choreography, but most importantly, the depth of character that’s often missing from action-heavy films. Oh, and it’s graphically violent, but never to the point of glorifying it. War is ugly, and this film doesn’t shy away from showing it.

Watch 13 Assassins on Netflix now

6. Ip Man (2008)

Action/Biography | IMDb: 8.1 | RT: 84%

Ip Man is a biographical drama (not documentary) about the eponymous martial arts master during Japan’s invasion of China in 1937. Left with no other choice, Ip Man is forced to train others in the practice of Wing Chun to help them defend themselves in this time of war.

What you may not realize is that Ip Man is the master who taught Bruce Lee. But don’t go into this film expecting a Bruce Lee film. Yes, the martial arts choreography is spectacular, but Ip Man goes much deeper. It’s more a drama than a martial arts film, and a great one at that.

Watch Ip Man on Netflix now

7. Headhunters (2011)

Crime/Suspense | IMDb: 7.6 | RT: 92%

Roger is a corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief. But when he unknowingly steals a valuable painting from an ex-mercenary, his life gets turned upside down.

Of all the films in this article, Headhunters is the closest to a Hollywood film — it sounds Hollywood, doesn’t it? — but it’s quite unique in style, tone, and characterization, and feels distinctly foreign. Keep in mind it’s an R-rated crime thriller, so you should expect a lot of violence and suspense.

Watch Headhunters on Netflix now

8. Force Majeure (2014)

Comedy/Drama | IMDb: 7.3 | RT: 93%

A “force majeure” is an unavoidable chance accident that legally frees both parties in a contract from fulfilling their obligations. It’s a disturbingly fitting title for this film where a family on vacation in the French Alps gets caught in a mountainside avalanche.

Though Force Majeure is touted as a comedy drama, it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. It’s heavy on the drama, and it’s intensely uncomfortable with how realistically it’s filmed — hard to watch in an emotional sort of way, but worth it for the one-of-a-kind experience it delivers.

Watch Force Majeure on Netflix now

9. Omar (2013)

Romance/Thriller | IMDb: 7.6 | RT: 90%

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a touchy topic to center a film on, but Omar does it well and with respect. When an Israeli soldier is killed, a young Palestinian baker/freedom fighter is caught, forced to become an informant, and asked to betray his friends.

Everywhere you look, Omar is billed as a romance or a thriller, but it’s more of a character drama with romance and thriller elements. Looking for a conflict-drenched film dripping with moral dilemmas and suspense? Omar should be at the top of your list.

Watch Omar on Netflix now

10. White God (2014)

Drama/Horror | IMDb: 6.9 | RT: 89%

When a 13-year-old girl’s father sets her mutt dog free because he’s seen as “unfit” by the Hungarian government, she leaves to find him. But little does she know that her dog now leads a pack of all the other “unfit” dogs of society and has turned on humanity Attention, Internet! The Best Movies About Artificial Intelligence Hollywood has released a lot of great movies exploring the issues of artificial intelligence over the years, and here are 10 of the best movies about AI we recommend you move Heaven and Earth to... Read More .

The plot of White God admittedly sounds a bit silly, or even cheesy, but the strong execution is what makes this film so noteworthy. It’s a dark tale with a message that may be seen as heavy-handed, but the performances and the climax are so good that it will definitely make you think.

Watch White God on Netflix now

What Are Your Favorite Foreign Films?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my many years as a subscriber, it’s that Netflix has a ton of excellent films that fly under most people’s radars. Despite its shrinking library size Netflix Removes 50% of its Catalog to Fund Original Content Have you noticed the Netflix catalog getting smaller in recent years? We now know the number of titles available on Netflix has been halved since 2012 to fund original content. Read More , the overall average quality has risen quite a bit, and I absolutely think Netflix is worth the price Why You Should Be Happy to Pay More for Netflix Every time Netflix increases its prices, millions of binge-watching users balk at the prospect of paying a couple of dollars more. But this is dumb, because Netflix is an absolute steal. Read More .

Are you having a hard time finding those excellent films to watch? See our guide on how to find Netflix movies you’ll actually love How to Find Netflix Movies You Will Love Netflix has a huge library of content. Which is why you need to know how to find movies you're guaranteed to love. Thankfully for you this article is packed with tips. Read More . It’s true: Netflix’s interface is terrible, so you’ll need to use some third-party tools to really unlock its potential.

Did you enjoy these films? Do you want to discover the finest films Netflix has to offer? If so, see our list of the 100 best films on Netflix The 100 Best Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now There is so much content on Netflix it's difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. This article offers a helping hand, counting down the 100 best movies you should watch on Netflix right now. Read More . Or tell us your favorites in the comments below.

Related topics: Language Learning, Media Streaming, Movie Recommendations, Netflix.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. christian mcnelle
    December 20, 2019 at 10:52 am

    The film manages to juggle satire, action, dark comedy, and political statements beautifully, making it one of the best foreign films on Netflix. Be warned that it might change the way you feel about the food industry.