95ab616d7ed3755e887c0c8abd77dfdd0fef68b0 35 Best Asian Movies to Watch Right Now | Amazing Facts

35 Best Asian Movies to Watch Right Now

2022 Asian Movies Getty Images, via merchants

Stream these Asian movies tonight

Asian movies have been gaining popularity in the United States in recent years. From the success of romantic comedies like Always Be My Maybe to historic wins for Parasite and Minari at the Oscars, Asian- and Asian American–led films continue to tell nuanced and diverse stories on-screen. With ongoing anti-Asian racism in America, supporting Asian and Asian American creators—whether by reading Asian American books, buying from Asian-owned companies, or watching Asian movies—can be a great way to help the community.

With the rise of streaming services, Asian movies are easier than ever to access. From Netflix Korean dramas to indie thriller movies, there’s never been a better time to, in the words of Parasite director Bong Joon-ho, “overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles.” Below, we have rounded up 35 of the greatest Asian American and Asian movies ever made. Regardless of language and genre, these movies are critically acclaimed and widely beloved, with breakout performances and trailblazing filmmaking that elevated Asian and Asian American cinema. From the best movies of all time to modern teen classics, these films are perfect for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and beyond.

The Big Sick 2017 via amazon.com

The Big Sick

Released: 2017

Rated: R

Director: Michael Showalter

Based on the real-life love story between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the married couple who cowrote the script, The Big Sick follows an aspiring Pakistani American comedian—also named Kumail—as he pursues stand-up comedy and falls in love with Emily. Though the relationship is promising, Emily breaks up with Kumail after finding photos of the Pakistani women his parents are trying to set him up with. When Emily falls into a coma, Kumail rushes to her bedside and attempts to get a second chance, with help from Emily’s parents. The winning cast features Zoe Kazan as Emily, and Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as her parents. Far from your average romantic comedy, The Big Sick won Nanjiani and Gordon a Best Screenplay nomination at the 2018 Academy Awards.

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Turning Red Movie Via Disneyplus.com

Turning Red

Released : 2022

Rated: PG

Director: Domee Shi

Set in Toronto, Canada, Turning Red follows Chinese Canadian teen Mei as she navigates life at home and school, all the while transforming into a giant red panda when her emotions are heightened. Though initially scared of the transformation, Mei soon discovers that her panda form could be the key to seeing her idols, the boy band 4*Town. Directed by Domee Shi and featuring voices from Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, this tender and funny coming-of-age story is the first Asian-led film from Pixar and one of the most enjoyable family movies.

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Saving Face Movie Via Tubi.com

Saving Face

Released: 2004

Rated: R

Director: Alice Wu

Alice Wu’s 2004 romantic comedy is a love letter to New York’s Chinatown. Michelle Krusiec plays Wilhelmina Pang, a young Chinese American surgeon who is a closeted lesbian. Just as Wil falls for Vivian, a family friend played by Lynn Chen, her pregnant mother moves in with her. One of the most iconic LGBTQ movies that explores these identities in the Asian American community, Saving Face is a funny and sweet portrayal of a mother and daughter finding the courage to be vulnerable with each other.

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The White Tiger Movie On Netflix via netflix.com

The White Tiger

Released: 2021

Rated: R

Director: Ramin Bahrani

How do you take charge of your life when the odds are stacked against you? Balram Halwai is a “white tiger”—someone whose intelligence is once in a generation. When he manipulates his way into being the driver of the local landlord’s son, Balram has his eyes on the prize: escaping the poverty that surrounds him, no matter the cost. Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Rajkummar Rao star in this gripping drama about wealth, caste, and ambition, which is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga.

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The super Parental Guardians Movie Via netflix.com

The Super Parental Guardians

Released : 2016

Rated: TV-14

Director : Joyce Bernal

This Tagalog-language comedy was the highest-grossing Filipino film of all time and broke box office records in the country on its opening weekend. When his best friend, Sarah, is murdered, Arci gets custody of her kids, Megan and Ernie. What he doesn’t expect is for their uncle Paco—who is searching for Sarah’s killers—to move in with them. If you’re on the hunt for funny movies, don’t overlook The Super Parental Guardians.

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To All The Boys Ive Loved Before Via Netflix via netflix.com

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Released : 2018

Rated : TV-14

Director: Susan Johnson

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was such a smash hit that Netflix turned it into a trilogy, like the best-selling YA book series it’s based on. The film stars Lana Condor as introverted bookworm Lara Jean Covey and Noah Centineo as outgoing jock Peter Kavinsky. When Lara Jean’s secret love letters get accidentally mailed out to former crushes like her sister’s current boyfriend, Peter—the recipient of one of her letters—agrees to play the part of her fake boyfriend. Condor and Centineo are a charming pair and shine in each of the teen movies in this sweet trilogy.

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Chan Is Missing Movie via amazon.com

Chan Is Missing

Released: 1982

Rated : Not Rated

Director: Wayne Wang

A trailblazing film in Asian American cinema, Chan Is Missing tells the story of Jo (Wood Moy), a taxi driver in San Francisco’s Chinatown who’s trying to track down his friend, Chan, who took his money and is supposed to get him a taxi license. Through the film, director Wayne Wang explores the themes of uncertainty and ambiguity, and the character of Chan remains enigmatic throughout. Wang ranks among amazing Asian Americans for breaking down barriers and, according to the Criterion Collection, becoming the first Asian American filmmaker to have a feature-length film play widely and earn critical acclaim.

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Monsoon Wedding via Hulu.com

Monsoon Wedding

Released: 2001

Rated: R

Director : Mira Nair

Weddings are often emotionally fraught affairs, and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding captures the chaos and heightened feelings of a large wedding taking place in India. Lalit and Pimmi’s daughter is getting married, and as friends and relatives arrive from all corners of the world, old wounds are revealed, and secrets threaten to derail the nuptials. Monsoon Wedding features one of the best movie soundtracks, with songs in both Punjabi and Urdu.

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In The Mood For Love Movie Via Hbo Max via hbomax.com

In the Mood for Love

Released : 2000

Rated: PG

Director: Wong Kar-wai

This is one of the most beautiful and stylized sad movies in Chinese cinema. Wong Kar-wai directs Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in this film set in Hong Kong. It’s 1962, and Mo-wan, a newspaper editor, and Li-zhen, a secretary, begin spending time together after discovering their spouses are having an affair with each other. Amid endless mah-jongg playing and stunning cheongsams, they realize that something quiet yet powerful is also brewing between them. The costumes in the film are breathtaking, and it manages to convey longing and mounting tension with few words.

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A Simple Life Movie Via Amazon

A Simple Life

Released: 2011

Rated: Not rated

Director: Ann Hui

This heartwarming and gentle drama features two of the biggest stars in Chinese-language films. Andy Lau plays Roger, a successful film executive in Hong Kong, and Deanie Ip plays Chun-to, a maid who’s been in service to his family her entire life. When Chun-to suffers a stroke, the caretaking dynamic between them changes, and Roger learns more about this woman who is essentially his only family left in the city. In 2011, Ip won a Best Actress award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival for her stirring performance.

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Lagaan Movie via Netflix.com

Lagaan

Released: 2001

Rated: PG

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Produced by and starring Amir Kahn, Lagaan is one of the most epic musical movies and is considered a landmark in Indian cinema. Set in 1893, this Asian movie follows young farmer Bhuvan as he accepts the challenge from a British officer to win a game of cricket against the colonizers, risking his village’s future in the process. With help from the officer’s younger sister, Elizabeth, Bhuvan recruits a group of unlikely cricketers to bring his team to victory. In addition to being a box office hit, Lagaan is also critically acclaimed, holding a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Mississippi Masala Movie via amazon.com

Mississippi Masala

Released: 1991

Rated: R

Director: Mira Nair

Set in rural Mississippi, this vivid romantic drama follows a Ugandan Indian family after their expulsion from Uganda by dictator Idi Amin. Patriarch Jay (Roshan Seth) struggles to settle into life in America, whereas his daughter (played by Sarita Choudhury) thrives and even falls in love with carpet cleaner Demetrius (Denzel Washington). As their relationship develops, tension mounts between the local Indian and Black communities.

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Always Be Mym Maybe Movie via Netflix.com

Always Be My Maybe

Released: 2019

Rated: PG-13

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

This hilarious film, one of the best romantic movies on Netflix, stars Ali Wong and Randall Park as childhood sweethearts Sasha and Marcus. After 15 years apart, the pair reunites in San Francisco, where Sasha—a celebrity chef—is opening a new restaurant, and Marcus continues to work at the family business. The spark still exists between them, but will their different lifestyles tear them apart? Written by Wong, Park, and Michael Golamco, the film also features performances from Daniel Dae Kim and Keanu Reeves.

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Lingua Franca Movie Via Netflix.com

Lingua Franca

Released: 2019

Rated: Not Rated

Director: Isabel Sandoval

Directed by and starring Isabel Sandoval, based on a script written by her, Lingua Franca captures the loneliness and quiet desperation of undocumented immigrants in America. Sandoval plays Olivia, a trans caregiver from the Philippines who is trying to secure a green card while caring for her elderly patient Olga. Eamon Farren plays Olga’s grandson, who has troubles of his own but falls for Olivia. Praised by critics for its intimate and understated style, Lingua Franca received a GLAAD Media Award nomination for best picture in 2021 and is one of the best Asian movies on Netflix.

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Shang Chi Movie Via Disneyplus.com

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Released: 2021

Rated: PG-13

Director : Destin Daniel Cretton

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, the first Asian American lead in a Marvel movie. With a star-studded cast that includes Awkwafina, Tony Leung, and Michelle Yeoh, this Asian Marvel movie is a family drama disguised as a superhero film. When San Francisco slacker Shaun and his best friend, Katy, are attacked on a bus, Shaun must embrace his true identity as Shang-Chi and face off against his father, the leader of the notorious Ten Rings organization. With extensive dialogue in Mandarin and well-choreographed fight sequences, this film showcases East Asian talent in Hollywood, and a sequel is already in development.

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Parasite Movie Via Hulu via hulu.com

Parasite

Released: 2019

Rated: R

Director: Bong Joon-ho

This highly acclaimed Korean movie follows the Kim family in Seoul, who live in a crammed basement apartment and struggle with unemployment. When son Ki-woo gets a job as a tutor for the wealthy Park family, he manages to integrate his parents and sister into the Parks’ domestic life, to surprising and ultimately deadly consequences. Bong Joon-ho’s black comedy won four Academy Awards in 2019—becoming the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture—as well as several Golden Globes and the Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or. Fast paced and incisive, the film is an unflinching examination of class, money, and privilege.

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Drive My Car Movie via hbomax.com

Drive My Car

Released: 2021

Rated: G

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Another one of the most critically acclaimed Asian movies, Drive My Car features actors from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Yusuke Kafuku is a renowned theater director in Japan, and he agrees to direct a production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya after his wife unexpectedly passes away. Kafuku arrives in Hiroshima with one of his most prized possessions—a red Saab 900 Turbo—only to discover that the theater mandates a driver and he has to let a young woman called Misaki take the wheel. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, this somber film examines themes of guilt, loss, and the power of art to heal.

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Shirkers Movie via Netflix.com

Shirkers

Released: 2018

Rated: Not Rated

Director: Sandi Tan

In 1992, teenage filmmaker Sandi Tan left footage from a film she shot with friends with their mentor, Georges Cardona. She never heard from him again. Almost a decade later, Cardona’s widow reached out. Now an artist living in Los Angeles, Tan uses the footage to make Shirkers, a documentary about her life in ’90s Singapore and an investigation into Cardona’s story. Critic Nick Allen calls the movie “a dazzling tapestry that’s unlike many narrative or documentary films,” and it holds a 99 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Minari Movie via hulu.com

Minari Movie via hulu.com Minari Movie via hulu.com

Minari

Released: 2020

Rated : PG-13

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Writer and director Lee Isaac Chung borrows from his childhood in rural Arkansas in this drama movie about a Korean American family. An idealist father is willing to put his family at risk for his crops to succeed, while his young son deals with a heart condition and the arrival of his grandmother from South Korea. The film is critically acclaimed and groundbreaking. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and Youn Yuh-jung, who played the grandmother, was the first-ever Korean actress to win an Oscar. It also led to necessary change: Minari‘s categorization as a “foreign language film” at the Golden Globes sparked criticism, prompting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to change its rules.

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Bad Genius Movie via netflix.com

Bad Genius

Released: 2017

Rated: PG-13

Director : Baz Poonpiriya

Inspired by real-life cheating scandals in China, Bad Genius follows top student Lynn as her scheme to help other students cheat at her elite high school continues to grow, ultimately spiraling out of control. Director Baz Poonpiriya envisioned the film as a heist thriller, and up-and-comers in Thai cinema comprise the cast. The film was a hit in Thailand and manages to pull off the feat of making exam-taking look exciting.

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American Girl Movie via netflix.com

American Girl

Released: 2021

Rated: TV-MA

Director: Feng-I Fiona Roan

This movie is based on the true story of director Feng-I Fiona Roan’s return to Taiwan after immigrating to America. In 2003, 13-year-old Fen Liang moves back to Taipei when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Amid the SARS outbreak, language and cultural barriers make her new life all the more difficult. This reverse immigration story is rich in detail and emotions, garnering its cast and crew five Golden Horse Awards—a high honor in Chinese-language cinema—in 2021.

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The Farewell Movie via amazon.com

The Farewell

Released : 2019

Rated: PG

Director: Lulu Wang

Based on director Lulu Wang’s life, The Farewell is a poignant tale of a family saying goodbye to its ailing matriarch, who’s the only member unaware of her diagnosis. Awkwafina shines as Chinese American Billi, who returns to China with her family for a wedding that’s hiding their ulterior motives: to say goodbye to Billi’s grandmother before she dies of cancer. The story is moving and heartfelt—the sort of film that’ll have you both laughing and reaching for the Kleenex.

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Shall We Dance Movie via amazon.com

Shall We Dance?

Released : 1996

Rated: PG

Director: Masayuki Suo

Kôji Yakusho and Tamiyo Kusakari star in this comedy about an office worker who finds fulfillment through ballroom dancing. When depressed salaryman Shohei Sugiyama stumbles upon a dance studio, he is drawn to mysterious teacher Mai and begins to take lessons with her. Though ballroom dancing makes Sugiyama feel alive, he is forced to keep his hobby a secret in conservative Japanese society. This film is one of many popular Asian movies remade in English, and its 2004 counterpart stars Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Looking for more romance? Cue up one of the sexiest movies on Netflix.

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Fan Girl Movie via netflix.com

Fan Girl

Released: 2020

Rated: TV-MA

Director : Antoinette Jadaone

A coming-of-age film with subtle but powerful political commentary, Fan Girl is an unrelenting look at fan culture and a takedown of the men who are mythologized in society. Obsessed with famous heartthrob Paulo Avelino, college student Jane hides in his truck after an event. At first, she is thrilled to be alone with her idol, who is every bit the man she wants him to be. But as the evening progresses, Jane begins to realize that Paulo might not be as perfect as he appears in public. Charlie Dizon shines as the artless Jane, and Avelino plays a version of himself in this movie directed by Antoinette Jadaone.

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Raise The Red Lantern Movie Via Amazon via amazon.com

Raise the Red Lantern

Released: 1991

Rated: PG

Director: Zhang Yimou

A chilling examination of the patriarchy, Raise the Red Lantern follows 19-year-old Songlian, who becomes the fourth wife of a wealthy man in 1920s China. Initially pampered and respected by all, Songlian soon realizes that to survive in her master’s house, she must compete for his attention against the other concubines. Starring Gong Li as Songlian, Raise the Red Lantern is a haunting and visually striking ’90s movie that still resonates today. The film’s success on the international level cemented Zhang Yimou’s status as an auteur.

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Rashomon Movie via hbomax.com

Rashomon

Released: 1950

Rated : Not Rated

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa’s classic tale of lies and human nature is considered one of the greatest films in cinematic history. At a murder trial in the city of Rashomon, four people give different versions of how a samurai is killed, each claiming he is telling the truth. Known for its masterful cinematography and storytelling, this classic movie propelled its director and leading man, Toshiro Mifune, to international renown, and it even inspired the term “Rashomon effect,” which describes a situation in which people have different recollections of the same event.

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The Wedding Banquet movie via plutotv.com

The Wedding Banquet

Released: 1993

Rated: R

Director : Ang Lee

The second of Ang Lee’s “Father Knows Best” trilogy, a series of films focused on the role of the traditional Chinese father, The Wedding Banquet is a dramedy about family and obligation. It’s also one of the classic Asian gay movies. Wai-Tung and Simon are a couple living in New York, but Wai-Tung’s parents—unaware that he’s gay—are pushing for him to get married. At Simon’s behest, Wai-Tung agrees to a marriage of convenience with a Chinese American woman in his building. But when his parents arrive in the United States to throw him an extravagant wedding, things spiral out of control. After T he Wedding Banquet, Lee directed Eat Drink Man Woman before breaking into English-language films with Sense and Sensibility.

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Everything Everywhere All At Once Movie via amazon.com

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Released: 2022

Rated: R

Directors : Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

This riveting sci-fi action-comedy features Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, an overwhelmed Chinese American mother, and Ke Huy Quan as Waymond, her husband. Together, they run a failing laundromat that is being audited by the IRS. What Evelyn finds at the auditor’s office is someone who looks like her husband but acts nothing like him, and her life is about to be altered forever. Perhaps best known for her roles in martial arts films, Yeoh channels the different versions of her character with aplomb, and the film is a funny and ultimately thoughtful look at the roads not taken through an immigrant lens.

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Love In A Puff Movie via netflix.com

Love in a Puff

Released: 2010

Rated: TV-MA

Director: Pang Ho-cheung

This 2010 romantic comedy has become an icon in Chinese-language cinema. Directed by Pang Ho-cheung, Love in a Puff is set in Hong Kong, where the government began enforcing an indoor smoking ban in 2007. During smoke breaks outside their office, advertising exec Jimmy meets makeup saleswoman Cherie, and the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Jimmy (Shawn Yue) is a commitment-phobe, and Cherie (Miriam Yeung) has a live-in boyfriend. Is their connection real, or is it fleeting like their cigarette breaks? The film spawned two more sequels about the couple: Love in the Buff and Love off the Cuff.

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Better Luck Tomorrow Movie Via Amazon via amazon.com

Better Luck Tomorrow

Released: 2002

Rated: R

Director: Justin Lin

This crime drama, centering around high-achieving Asian American teens, was the directorial debut from Justin Lin, who later went on to helm the Fast and Furious franchise. Straight-A student Ben Manibag blows off steam by committing petty crimes, but events spiral out of control when he becomes involved in a school-wide cheating operation. Before the movie debuted at Sundance to critical acclaim, Lin received emergency funding from rapper MC Hammer that allowed him to complete filming. If real-life crimes are more your style, check out these top true crime documentaries on Netflix.

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Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts Via Amazon via amazon.com

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

Released : 2017

Rated : Not Rated

Director : Mouly Surya

This feminist Western tells the story of newly widowed Marlina, who is on the run after poisoning seven men who attacked her in her home. In her quest for justice, she befriends other women, who help her elude the remaining robbers. This Indonesian movie was released in 2017 and submitted as the country’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards the following year.

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Gook Movie via roku.com

Gook

Released: 2017

Rated : TV-MA

Director: Justin Chon

Justin Chon directs and stars in this beautiful black-and-white film, set against the backdrop of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising. Korean American brothers Eli and Daniel run a shoe store in Paramount, California, where they hang out with Kamila, a young Black girl, despite mounting racial tensions in the neighborhood. Chon examines the events of 1992 through an Asian American lens, and Gook was an audience favorite at the 2007 Sundance Festival. For something different, press play on one of the best action movies of all time.

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Harold And Kumar Go To Whotecastle via Netflix.com

Harold Kumar Go to White Castle

Released : 2004

Rated: R

Director: Danny Leiner

The rare stoner comedy with two Asian leads, this first installment in the Harold Kumar trilogy follows two best friends on their twisty, hilarious journey to the nearest White Castle, with a sidesplitting turn from Neil Patrick Harris. John Cho plays investment banker Harold, who struggles with standing up for himself at work, and Kal Penn is Kumar, a med school applicant who grapples with his trajectory in life. This 2004 box office success is followed by Harold Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) and A Very Harold Kumar 3D Christmas (2011).

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Oldboy Movie via amazon.com

Oldboy

Released : 2003

Rated: R

Director: Park Chan-wook

A character-driven thriller about love and revenge, Oldboy was celebrated at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and inspired an American remake helmed by Spike Lee. Businessman Dae-su has been imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years, not knowing who kidnapped him or why. When he is released one random day, what looks like freedom only leads to more lies and heartbreak. The film is dark and sadistic, and its exploration of a desperate protagonist will haunt you long after its final scene. Park Chan-wook is also known for his stellar Asian horror movies, so you may want to pick one and make this a double feature.

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The Joy Luck Club Movie Via Roku via roku.com

The Joy Luck Club

Released: 1993

Rated : R

Director : Wayne Wang

This highly acclaimed film is an adaptation of Amy Tan’s highly acclaimed novel about mothers, daughters, and the secrets they keep from each other. The titular Joy Luck Club consists of four women living in San Francisco who get together to play mah-jongg every week. The film was groundbreaking upon its release in 1993, as there were no Asian-led Hollywood films at the time. Critic Roger Ebert praised it as “remarkable for its complexity and force,” and the cast—Ming-Na Wen, Rosalind Chao, Tamlyn Tomita, and Lauren Tom—all went on to achieve great success.

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Originally Published: May 24, 2022


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