Seoul, South Korea
There’s something special about Asia. Whether it be the twinkling, bustling metropolis of Tokyo, the crazy energy in Mumbai or the hidden treasures in Taipei, Midnight Asia is the perfect documentary for enthusiasts looking to learn more about Asian culture. And, in particular, the nightlife.
Each chapter explores the nightlife of different cities, embracing the tagline of this series – Eat, Dance, Dream – and diving into what this means to each city.
The episodes themselves are about 35 minutes or so, and perfectly capture a snapshot of the weird, wonderful and wild sights and sounds to behold. The run-time is split into different sections, with an owner or enthusiast discussing how their chosen hobby, pastime or establishment feeds into the culture of that country.
From night markets selling delicious food to skateboarders, queer techno clubs or even fried chicken joints, there’s an awful lot of variety here, which is partly why Midnight Asia works as well as it does.
You never quite know what you’re going to experience next, and that cleverly plays into the idea that the nightlife in Asia is like no other. Each of these countries have their own treasure troves of hidden gems, and this documentary feels like it only scratches the surface of what’s available.
It’s not all sightseeing though, and Midnight Asia features a decent amount of educational material too, explaining the general set-up of each city and how that’s shaped the culture and nightlife. In Taipei, for example, the blend of traditional and modern sees beautiful ancient temples right next door to massive high-rise skyscrapers.
In Japan, bartenders learn the art of Omotenashia while in Manila, a massive Emcee culture alongside street basketball brews, showing an urban flair to the young energy sparkling throughout the city.
Food is always a big part of Asian culture and as one may expect, this is given a good amount of screen-time across the season. In the Korean episode, for example, we hone in on fried chicken while Bangkok dives into famous skewers.
These intimate looks at different establishments are broken up with some breathtaking establishing shots, showing off the twinkling lights of these metropolis skylines. All of this combines to help give a real sense of culture and understanding of what these places are really all about.
Anyone interested in what Asia has to offer, or want to see why these places are so revered should absolutely check this out.
Verdict - 8/10