Buddhist Movies

by rojola | created - 10 Feb 2011 | updated - 24 Oct 2018 | Public

A guide to movies (both Eastern and Western) influenced by, dealing with, or containing a Buddhist/Zen message.

Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, they might be added to the list.

Documentaries are NOT included.

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1. Samsara (2001)

R | 138 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

A spiritual love-story set in the majestic landscape of Ladakh, Himalayas. Samsara is a quest; one man's struggle to find spiritual Enlightenment by renouncing the world. And one woman's ... See full summary »

Director: Pan Nalin | Stars: Shawn Ku, Christy Chung, Neelesha Barthel, Lhakpa Tsering

Votes: 7,232

2. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)

R | 103 min | Drama, Romance

85 Metascore

A boy is raised by a Buddhist monk on an isolated floating temple where the years pass like the seasons.

Director: Ki-duk Kim | Stars: Ki-duk Kim, Yeong-su Oh, Jong-ho Kim, Young-min Kim

Votes: 73,194 | Gross: $2.38M

3. Cloud Atlas (2012)

R | 172 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

55 Metascore

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 333,800 | Gross: $27.11M

4. Peaceful Warrior (2006)

PG-13 | 120 min | Drama, Romance, Sport

40 Metascore

A chance encounter with a stranger changes the life of a college gymnast.

Director: Victor Salva | Stars: Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart, Tim DeKay

Votes: 25,525 | Gross: $3.96M

5. Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

62 Metascore

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.

Director: Adrian Lyne | Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven

Votes: 94,034 | Gross: $26.12M

6. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

72 Metascore

A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 555,711 | Gross: $70.91M

7. TRON: Legacy (2010)

PG | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

49 Metascore

The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's corrupted creation and a unique ally who was born inside the digital world.

Director: Joseph Kosinski | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner

Votes: 303,464 | Gross: $172.06M

8. Fight Club (1999)

R | 139 min | Drama

66 Metascore

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier

Votes: 1,751,095 | Gross: $37.03M

9. Little Buddha (1993)

PG | 123 min | Drama

After the death of Lama Dorje, Tibetan Buddhist monks find three children - one American and two Nepalese - who may be the rebirth of their great teacher.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda, Ruocheng Ying, Chris Isaak

Votes: 14,896 | Gross: $4.86M

10. Travelers and Magicians (2003)

Not Rated | 108 min | Adventure, Drama

71 Metascore

The two men embark on parallel, if separate, journeys. Their yearning is a common one--for a better and different life. Dondup, delayed by the timeless pace of his village, is forced to ... See full summary »

Director: Khyentse Norbu | Stars: Tshewang Dendup, Gup Kado Duba, Dasho Kado, Sonam Lhamo

Votes: 2,033 | Gross: $0.51M

11. The Cup (1999)

G | 93 min | Comedy, Sport

70 Metascore

While the soccer World Cup is being played in France, two young Tibetan refugees arrive at a monastery/boarding school in exile in India. Its atmosphere of serene contemplation is somewhat ... See full summary »

Director: Khyentse Norbu | Stars: Orgyen Tobgyal, Neten Chokling, Jamyang Lodro, Lama Chonjor

Votes: 2,799 | Gross: $1.07M

12. Milarepa (2006)

PG | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

52 Metascore

Milarepa is a tale of greed and vengeance - demons, magic, murder and redemption. It is the story of the man who became Tibet's greatest mystic.

Director: Neten Chokling | Stars: Orgyen Tobgyal, Kelsang Chukie Tethtong, Jamyang Lodro, Jamyang Nyima

Votes: 894

13. Kundun (1997)

PG-13 | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

74 Metascore

From childhood to adulthood, Tibet's fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong, Gyurme Tethong, Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin, Tenzin Yeshi Paichang

Votes: 25,041 | Gross: $5.53M

14. Kiss the Sky (1998)

R | 107 min | Drama, Romance

Two professionals, Jeff and Marty, take a business trip to the Philippines. Their deep dissatisfaction with their lives leads them to forsake their friends and families for a return to the ... See full summary »

Director: Roger Young | Stars: William Petersen, Gary Cole, Sheryl Lee, Patricia Charbonneau

Votes: 723

15. Into the Wild (2007)

R | 148 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

73 Metascore

After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

Director: Sean Penn | Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden

Votes: 541,844 | Gross: $18.35M

16. Siddhartha (1972)

R | 89 min | Drama, Mystery

80 Metascore

The story of a young Indian who embarks upon a journey to find the meaning of existence. Based on the novel by Hermann Hesse.

Director: Conrad Rooks | Stars: Shashi Kapoor, Simi Garewal, Romesh Sharma, Pinchoo Kapoor

Votes: 1,099

17. Enlightenment Guaranteed (1999)

109 min | Drama, Comedy

68 Metascore

Two very different brothers get together for a temporary stay in a Japanese zen monastry. The trip from Germany to Japan brings up some unexpected quests they have to manage. Soon both ... See full summary »

Director: Doris Dörrie | Stars: Uwe Ochsenknecht, Gustav-Peter Wöhler, Petra Zieser, Ulrike Kriener

Votes: 1,244

18. Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (1989)

Not Rated | 137 min | Drama

About three monks in a remote monastery; an aging master, a small orphan and a young man who left his city life to seek Enlightenment.

Director: Yong-Kyun Bae | Stars: Yi Pan-Yong, Sin Won-Sop, Hae-Jin Huang, Su-Myong Ko

Votes: 1,174

19. The Fountain (2006)

PG-13 | 97 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

51 Metascore

As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ellen Burstyn

Votes: 220,726 | Gross: $10.14M

20. Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

PG-13 | 136 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

55 Metascore

True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China's takeover of Tibet.

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud | Stars: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong, Mako

Votes: 118,654 | Gross: $37.96M

21. The Thin Red Line (1998)

R | 170 min | Drama, War

78 Metascore

Adaptation of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Kirk Acevedo

Votes: 164,999 | Gross: $36.40M

22. The Matrix (1999)

R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 1,578,590 | Gross: $171.48M

23. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama

84 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 1,022,146 | Gross: $130.10M

24. Hi! Dharma! (2001)

95 min | Drama, Comedy

Laughs and thrills go hand-in-fist in this Korean action comedy, as a band of criminals fleeing a violent gang war hides out in a monastery. The monks in residence quickly tire of the goons... See full summary »

Director: Cheol-kwan Park | Stars: Shin-yang Park, Jin-young Jung, Sang-Myeon Park, Seong-jin Kang

Votes: 289

25. Zen (2009)

127 min | Biography, Drama

'Zen' Buddhist teacher Dogen Zenji is a very important religious person during the Kamakura period, 750 years ago. After his mother died, he decides to move to China and settle as a ... See full summary »

Director: Banmei Takahashi | Stars: Kankurô Nakamura, Yuki Uchida, Ryushin Tei, Kengo Kôra

Votes: 898

26. Zen Noir (2004)

71 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

27 Metascore

A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen.

Director: Marc Rosenbush | Stars: Duane Sharp, Kim Chan, Debra Miller, Ezra Buzzington

Votes: 324

27. A Buddha (2005)

115 min | Drama

Un Buda follows two brothers orphaned as children when their parents were taken by the military during the "Dirty Wars" of the 1970s in Argentina. Tomas (Agustin Markert) is now a drifting ... See full summary »

Director: Diego Rafecas | Stars: Agustín Markert, Carolina Fal, Diego Rafecas, Julieta Cardinali

Votes: 750

28. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

PG | 92 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

73 Metascore

The Dragon Warrior has to clash against the savage Tai Lung as China's fate hangs in the balance. However, the Dragon Warrior mantle is supposedly mistaken to be bestowed upon an obese panda who is a novice in martial arts.

Directors: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson | Stars: Jack Black, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman

Votes: 397,282 | Gross: $215.43M

29. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Not Rated | 114 min | Drama, Fantasy

87 Metascore

Dying of kidney disease, a man spends his last, somber days with family, including the ghost of his wife and a forest spirit who used to be his son, on a rural northern Thailand farm.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul | Stars: Thanapat Saisaymar, Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Natthakarn Aphaiwonk

Votes: 12,556 | Gross: $0.18M

30. Onibaba (1964)

Not Rated | 103 min | Drama, Horror

Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.

Director: Kaneto Shindô | Stars: Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Satô, Jûkichi Uno

Votes: 14,445

31. The Burmese Harp (1956)

Not Rated | 116 min | Drama, Music, War

In the War's closing days, when a conscience-driven Japanese soldier fails to get his countrymen to surrender to overwhelming force, he adopts the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk.

Director: Kon Ichikawa | Stars: Rentarô Mikuni, Shôji Yasui, Tatsuya Mihashi, Jun Hamamura

Votes: 5,089

32. Jan Dara (2001)

108 min | Drama, Romance

Jan Dara grows up in a house lacking in love but abundant in lust. He quickly picks up the sinful way of life of his stepfather, Khun Luang who married his mother after she became pregnant ... See full summary »

Director: Nonzee Nimibutr | Stars: Eakarat Sarsukh, Suwinit Panjamawat, Kanchit Thamthong, Santisuk Promsiri

Votes: 1,881

33. Heaven & Earth (1993)

R | 140 min | Action, Biography, Drama

During the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese woman struggles hustling on the streets, where she comes face to face with those involved in the conflict around her.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Hiep Thi Le, Tommy Lee Jones, Haing S. Ngor, Bussaro Sanruck

Votes: 12,707 | Gross: $5.86M

34. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

PG-13 | 113 min | Action, Sci-Fi

71 Metascore

A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Votes: 568,202 | Gross: $100.21M

35. Lucy (I) (2014)

R | 89 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

61 Metascore

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked

Votes: 419,045 | Gross: $126.66M

36. Seven Psychopaths (2012)

R | 110 min | Comedy, Crime

66 Metascore

A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu.

Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken

Votes: 230,288 | Gross: $15.02M

37. I Origins (2014)

R | 106 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

57 Metascore

A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.

Director: Mike Cahill | Stars: Michael Pitt, Steven Yeun, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Brit Marling

Votes: 108,826 | Gross: $0.33M

38. Winter's Tale (2014)

PG-13 | 118 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

31 Metascore

A burglar falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.

Director: Akiva Goldsman | Stars: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly

Votes: 50,356 | Gross: $0.02M

39. Happiness (II) (2013)

80 min | Documentary, Drama, Family

In 1999, King Jigme Wangchuck approved the use of television and Internet throughout the largely undeveloped nation of Bhutan, assuring the masses that rapid development was synonymous with... See full summary »

Director: Thomas Balmès | Stars: Peyangki, Kinley Om, Ap Kinley Dorji, Aum Thinley Dolma

Votes: 275

40. Her (2013)

R | 126 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara

Votes: 499,093 | Gross: $25.57M

41. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

PG-13 | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

94 Metascore

A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang

Votes: 245,102 | Gross: $128.08M

42. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

R | 116 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A man studies kung fu at the Shaolin Temple to fight back against the oppressive Manchu government.

Director: Chia-Liang Liu | Stars: Chia-Hui Liu, Lieh Lo, Chia Yung Liu, Norman Chu

Votes: 13,688

43. Amrapali (1966)

119 min | Musical, Fantasy

A victory over neighboring state Vaishai has always eluded Magadh Samrat Ajaatshatru despite being winning and taking control over all neighboring states. He attacks Vaishali only get ... See full summary »

Director: Lekh Tandon | Stars: Vyjayanthimala, Sunil Dutt, Prem Nath, Bipin Gupta

Votes: 158

44. Angulimala (2003)

105 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Arhingsaka was born in India to a noble family. Despite his noble birth, his horoscope showed to be born under the sign of thieves, and thus was preordained for a wicked life. On his 16th ... See full summary »

Director: Sutape Tunnirut | Stars: Nopachai Chaiyanam, Stella Malucchi, John Rattanaveroj, Kamron Gunatilaka

Votes: 86