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A fortnight from now we will all bid farewell to 2021. A lof of things happened this year, good and bad and everything in-between. One good thing which happened this year were movie premiers, and here are YourOnly.One Top 10 Movies of 2021.
10. Black Widow (2021)
Black Widow is a 2021 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, and stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow alongside Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, Olga Kurylenko, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), the film sees Romanoff on the run and forced to confront her past.1
Due to COVID-19, the premier of countless of films were delayed and one of it was Black Widow. Originally scheduled for release in 2020, the premier was moved to July 9, 2021. It received a rating of 79% from 437 votes in Rotten Tomatoes and a gross box office of U$183.6 million.
Even though the time period of Black Widow in Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline is in the past, it still is a very important story … and the last time we will see Natasha Romanoff. Definitely a must-watch.
9. Infinite (2021)
Infinite is a 2021 American science fiction action film directed by Antoine Fuqua. Ian Shorr wrote the screenplay based on a story by Todd Stein, who in turn adapted D. Eric Maikranz’s 2009 novel The Reincarnationist Papers. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones and Dylan O’Brien.2
Originally planned for a theatrical release in 2020, Infinite was officially released on June 10, 2021 through the Paramount+ streaming service. An underrated movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor, which tells the story about two groups of warriors who knows the secret of life and reincarnation. It was based from the novel of D. Eric Maikranze entitled The Reincarnationist Papers published in 2009.
The action scenes and effects were great but unfortunately it lacks depth. It would be better if they planned a trilogy instead. Even so, the pure entertainment value and the ideas presented landed it #9 in our list. Think of The Matrix + John Wick + Assassins Creed + Kill Bill + Inception and you get Infinite.
8. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021)
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is a 2021 American action thriller film based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy. It is directed by Stefano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, and stars Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lauren London, Brett Gelman, Jacob Scipio, Jack Kesy, Colman Domingo and Guy Pearce. The plot follows John Kelly, a U.S. Navy SEAL who sets out on a path of revenge after his pregnant wife and unit members are killed by Russian hitmen.3
This is another underrated movie of 2021. It only received 44% rating from 188 votes in Rotten Tomtatoes and 5.8 out of 10 rating from 51,309 votes in IMDb. This film was based on Without Remorse by Tom Clancy. Reviews ranged from “too generic” to “an attempt to copy Jason Bourne”, the latter for me is unfair considering how the original novel was published in 1993 and a movie adaptation have been in development since.
I say, ignore the ratings and watch this film. Do not forget the last scene.
7. A Writer’s Odyssey (2021)
A Writer’s Odyssey (Chinese: 刺杀小说家) is a 2021 Chinese action-adventure fantasy film directed and written by Lu Yang and produced by Ning Hao. The film was released February 12, 2021, on the Lunar New Year. The film is based on Shuang Xuetao’s novel of the same name, and its sequel Godslayer.4 Desperate to find his daughter, a father agreed to assassinate a fantasy author whose novel is affecting the real-world, in particular the life of a tech tycoon hangs in the balance. In exchange, the tech tycoon promised to tell him the location of his daughter. Later, he fount out that there is more about the novel than he was initially told.
The film reached U$159.9 million in the box office. It also received 6.2 out of 10 rating from 2,001 votes in IMDb; 7.7 out of 10 stars from 207 users in MyDramaList; and 92% from 12 votes in Rotten Tomatoes; and 9.3 out of 10 from iQiYi streaming platform where the movie is officially available digitally.
If you are looking for a good Chinese drama, I recommend A Writer’s Odyssey. Its amazing graphics, special effects, and unique story, it is guaranteed you’ll be glued on your screen and touched by a father’s quest to find his lovable daughter.
Where to watch
A Writer’s Odyssey or 刺殺小說家 is available on iQiYi with good English subtitles: watch it now.
6. The Tomorrow War (2021)
The Tomorrow War is a 2021 American military science fiction action film directed by Chris McKay. The picture is produced by David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, David S. Goyer, Jules Daly, and Adam Kolbrenner, and written by Zach Dean. The ensemble cast features Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J. K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and Keith Powers. It follows a mix of present-day soldiers and civilians sent into the future to fight an alien army.5
This film deserves an IMAX release with all the sound technologies available like DTS and Dolby Digital. The Tomorrow War also deserves a 4D cinema release because it just is not a movie which should be watched on small screens. Not even the best home theater setup can truly capture the amazing production and story, and all the work they dedicated to it.
A rating of 6.6 out of 10 from 180,330 votes is in from IMDb. It also gathered 2,283 votes from Google Search totalling to 4.3 out of 5 stars. A sequel was confirmed to be in the works in July 8, 2021.
5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a 2021 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character Shang-Chi. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, from a screenplay he wrote with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, and stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi alongside Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Tony Leung. In the film, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past when his father Wenwu (Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing (Zhang) into a search for a mythical village.6
Asian power! This is the best way to describe Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It is rare to see an ensemble of Asians from Western productions, even rarer from a cinematic universe based on Western comic books. In today’s era where racial equality is big, and rightly so, this film is a very much welcome movie for everyone, everywhere, most especially from Asians (like me). Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also boasts its stunning visuals and a great storyline about a once blissful family.
It received got 4.6 out of 5 stars from 13,725 votes in Google Search; and 7.5 out of 10 rating from 244,579 votes in IMDb. With a reported budget of U$150–200 million, its box office of U$432.2 million is proof enough it was a huge success. If you have not watched this, make sure you sit with your family this Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
4. Mission: Possible (2021)
No, it was not a mistake, this film’s title is Mission: Possible.
Mission: Possible (Korean: 미션 파서블) is a 2021 South Korean action-comedy film written and directed by Kim Hyung-joo. Based on the Mission: Impossible series by Bruce Geller, the film stars Lee Sun-bin and Kim Young-kwang, following the antics of secret agent Da-hee and an ex-special agent, present-private detective Soo-han. The film was released in South Korea on February 17, 2021.7
It is a story of a rookie female Chinese secret agent sent on a mission to track illegal firearms smuggling into South Korea. She met a South Korean private detective who happens to be a dismissed Korean secret agent. All was going well until their contacts and witnesses were assassinated and they became the prime suspects.
1,548 users rated it highly in MyDramaList gathering a total of 8.1 out of 10 stars. It got 6.5 out of 10 rating from 875 votes in IMDb; and 4.7 out of 5 stars from 93 votes in Google Search. If you are looking for a good action-comedy, Mission: Possible or 미션 파서블 should be in your list.
3. Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021)
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (Japanese: るろうに剣心 最終章：The Final) is a 2021 Japanese live-action film based on the manga series of the same name serving as the fourth installment of the Rurouni Kenshin film series following 2014’s Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. The film adapts the manga series’ final arc, though some story elements differ. The film was produced simultaneously alongside the film series’ fifth and final installment Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, which serves as a direct prequel to The Final, with flashback scenes being taken from The Beginning.8
If you are a fan of anime and manga Rurouni Kenshin, or Samurai X as it is known in the West, you should’ve watched the live-action adaptation already. Rurouni Kenshin: The Final tells the story of Yukishiro Enishi’s revenge against Himura Kenshin. Chronologically speaking, they come full circle in this film, a true end for the live-action saga. If you are planning to re-watch all five (5) movies, make sure The Final comes last.
2. Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)
Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (Japanese: るろうに剣心 最終章：The Beginning) is a 2021 Japanese live-action film based upon the manga series of the same name. It is the fifth and final installment of the Rurouni Kenshin film series and serves as a prequel, depicting Himura Kenshin’s origins as the assassin “Hitokiri Battōsai”, while exploring his relationship with the woman named Yukishiro Tomoe. As the film was produced simultaneously alongside Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, events in the former are directly referenced in the latter, with Tomoe’s brother Enishi appearing due to events that transpired in The Beginning.9
Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, while the 5th and last live-action movie, is actually the beginning of the adaptation series. It tells the story of Himura Kenshin as Hitokiri Battousai, and how he met Yukishiro Tomoe, the older sister of Yukishiro Enishi. If you are planning on re-watching all five (5) films, I recommend watching it chronologically by starting with the aptly named The Beginning.
1. Space Sweepers (2021)
Space Sweepers (Korean: 승리호; Hanja: 勝利號) is a 2021 South Korean space Western film directed by Jo Sung-hee, starring Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu and Yoo Hae-jin. Regarded as the first Korean space blockbuster, it was released on Netflix on February 5, 2021.10 It is South Korea’s first-ever space science fiction show. For their first venture into space, they did not disappoint and made sure audiences were awed by the show’s deep story and unforgettable space adventure.
The story started out as a typical Western space scifi. Humanity encountered a life threatening situation and the only way out was up, out there in outer space. Slowly and perfectly the Korean signature in storytelling and plots surfaced up and it started to get very interesting. Space Sweepers is a story about you and me, being a human, and the relationships we build in each of our adventures. Our humanity. Our frailties. The challenges we face every single day and how to ultimately triumph (or not).
Can you guess how many languages were spoken and nationalities represented in “Space Sweepers”?
Where to watch
Space Sweepers is available exclusively on Netflix: watch it now.
Our review of Space Sweepers is available separately: Space Sweepers review.
1. Dune (2021)
Dune (titled onscreen as Dune: Part One) is a 2021 American epic science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth. It is the first of a planned two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, primarily covering the first half of the book. Set in the far future, it follows Paul Atreides as his family, the noble House Atreides, is thrust into a war for the deadly and inhospitable desert planet Arrakis. The ensemble cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.11
Dune is one of those franchises I want to see a reboot or a retelling, it deserves to have a 2020s adaptation. Dune: Part One was an awesome film but as the title suggests, it was only Part One, and it defintiely is. If you are not familiar with this franchise, it started from the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. It had a 1984 film, a mini television series in 2000, five sequels, and plenty of games. Not to mention the prequel novels by his son Brian Herbert and author Kevin J. Anderson and two sequels. In other words, this is a franchise no one should ever ignore.
2. F9 (2021)
F9 (also known as F9: The Fast Saga and internationally as Fast & Furious 9) is a 2021 American action film directed by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Daniel Casey and Lin. It is the sequel to The Fate of the Furious (2017), the ninth main installment, and the tenth full-length film in the Fast & Furious franchise. The film stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, and Charlize Theron. In F9, Dominic Toretto and the team come together to stop a world-shattering plot headed by Toretto’s brother, Jakob.12
You know what they say, family, and that’s basically everything about F9 and the Fast & Furious franchise. F for Family!
Thank you for reading! While YourOnly.One Top 10 Movies of 2021 is probably not what you expected, these are the films which I believe deserves to be ranked as YourOnly.One. There were a lot of films released this year and it was not easy not to include everything. However, we have to pick the Top 10 and this was the result.
How about you? What is YourOnly.One Top 10 Movies of 2021?