It’s time to bring some more diversity to your queue!
We’ve rounded up an amazing selection of movies on Netflix, all presented by Asian creators. These talented writers, directors and producers represent both the biggest names in cinema and newcomers who are making things happen. From comedies to animated treasures, martial arts movies to zombie thrillers, the perfect pick for your next movie night is just a click away. You can thank us later!
1. French language
Written, directed, produced and starring Filipino four-threat filmmaker Isabel Sandoval, Lingua franca is a moving film about an undocumented trans caregiver (Olivia) in Brooklyn. After exhausting all possible options to gain legal status, she begins a romantic relationship with her elderly patient’s adult son in hopes of a green card based on marriage. Lingua franca is a heartfelt and touching tribute to the marginalized and an absolute triumph for representation: Sandoval’s Lingua franca premiere at the Venice Film Festival marks the first time a trans woman of color has entered the competition.
How to watch: Lingua franca is streaming on Netflix.
2. The White Tiger
As a young boy in India, Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) scored high enough in his exams to secure a scholarship to Delhi – a rare chance to escape the circumstances of his birth in a lower class . However, when his family’s needs grow too great, Balram is forced to quit school, return to his village and work at his grandmother’s tea stall to make ends meet. An ambitious man, he spent the rest of his life trying to find a new path to success despite his country’s rigid and punitive class structure. Based on Aravind Adiga’s acclaimed novel of the same name, The white tiger is a masterful entry by Iranian-American writer and director Ramin Bahrani. A moving and brutal meditation on inequality with a sensational cast (What’s up, Priyanka Chopra!), this is a lively and captivating film not to be missed.
How to watch: The white tiger is streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Ed Araquel/Netflix
Fans of the Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra long awaited a fictional Ali Wong fantasy, and Always be my maybe really, really book. Wong and Randall Park form a lovely testament, with love triangles, awkward childhood flashbacks, Keanu Reeves as he was born to playand authentic depictions of the Asian-American experience.* — Alison Foreman, entertainment reporter
How to watch: Always be my maybe is streaming on Netflix.
When four-year-old Kun (Moka Kamishiraishi) parents tell him that he is going to have a little sister, he is initially excited. But when the baby, Mirai (Haru Kuroki), arrives, he struggles to adjust to sharing the attention of his mother and father. Seeking solace, Kun disappears into the garden behind his house, where he embarks on a magical adventure with the adult version of Mirai that puts his relationship with his family in a whole new perspective. This is a deeply warm, funny and insightful piece from veteran Japanese director and animator Mamoru Hosoda. Nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2018, Mirai is the perfect and enjoyable choice for family movie night.
How to watch: Mirai is streaming on Netflix.
5. Tiger Tail
Credit: Hsiang Liu/Netflix
Alan Yang’s feature directorial debut tells the touching story of Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma) and Yuan (Joan Chen), who met in Taiwan as children and young adults, but ended up losing contact. In his later years, Pin-Jui finds himself estranged from his daughter, their relationship strained by his reluctance to open up over the years. Flashbacks continue to reveal the tender love between Pin-Jui and Yuan until he abruptly marries someone else, and the adult Pin-Jui is forced to reunite with his old love and return to his roots. * – Proma Khosla, entertainment journalist
How to watch: tiger tail is streaming on Netflix.
6. Paper Tigers
Is it a martial arts movie, a comedy, a drama? No, it’s all three! paper tigers is a high-energy, hilarious and surprisingly relatable story about three middle-aged men, each a former kung fu prodigy. They never thought their martial arts past would be valuable again in their adult life, until their former master was murdered, and they swear revenge (after putting their children to bed, sure). Written and directed by newcomer Bao Tran, and funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign, paper tigers is a sensational watch.
How to watch: paper tigers is streaming on Netflix.
In a near future where women are becoming infertile and cosmetic surgery is a major industry, Gwen (Jacqueline Kim) is a woman without many options. When she is abruptly fired from her job, she agrees to undergo a risky procedure in order to secure her daughter’s future. Written by Jennifer Phang and Jacqueline Kim, and directed by Phang, Advantageous is a pensive and shrewd sci-fi drama – a winner for all fans of dystopian cinema.
How to watch: Advantageous is streaming on Netflix.
First feature film director Rohena Gera successfully lands with 2018s Sirwhich only hit theaters in November 2020 and hit Netflix in early 2021. Sir is the essential Indian cinema. Tillotama Shome stars as Ratna, an upper-middle-class resident housekeeper from Ashwin (Vivek Gomber). Maids are common in India, where the film is set, but Ratna and Ashwin develop a slowly simmering, socially unthinkable love.
Netflix’s ‘Sir’ is a staple of Indian cinema
With Gera’s writing and directing, this unlikely story never feels forced. Love blossoms organically, in furtive glances and heavy silence and the trust they develop as Ashwin recovers from a broken engagement and Ratna tells her about her late husband. The result is a film so sweet and moving that it will stay with you long after it ends.* — PACK
How to watch: Sir is streaming on Netflix.
Director Alice Wu’s half of it revolves around straight college student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) and her journey to self-acceptance. It does wonders for the streaming service’s rom-com catalog, not because it’s particularly new to its ideas, but because Wu executes them with a flair all its own.
A charming combination of unique subject matter and clichéd narration, half of it explores the perspectives of characters rare in the genre – namely, Ellie who is a queer Chinese-American teenager – with fairly predictable narrative turns. You’ve never seen this story with these characters before, but you’ll feel like you did. It’s a win for the genre in its own right.* — A F
How to watch: half of it is streaming on Netflix.
Written by Cho Il-hyung and Matt Naylor, and directed by Il-hyung, #Living is a South Korean zombie film of the modern era. Oh Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in) is a video game streamer and one of the last humans in his town not trying to eat brains. Trapped alone in his apartment, Joon-woo is about to give up hope, until another survivor, also trapped in his apartment, catches his eye with a laser pointer. #Living was the first Korean film to top the Netflix Movies Worldwide charts, and it’s no wonder – with its focus on isolation and connection, it’s a fresh and engaging take on the popular zombie genre.
How to watch: #Living is streaming on Netflix.
Before him won an Oscar for suggesting eating the rich, Bong Joon Ho’s most recent film was about a little girl and her genetically modified super pig, Okja. Ahn Seo-Hyun plays wide-eyed Mija, who can’t stand the separation when it comes time to take Okja away and seemingly kill him for mass consumption. Mija flees to Seoul to rescue her best friend and expose the slimy Mirando Corporation that started the super pig program. Okja has a sane, streamlined story, but Bong’s hallmark is in the delightfully weird performances of Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, and more. Ephemeral Easter Eggs the director put in it just for fun.* — PACK
How to watch: Okja is streaming on Netflix.
Where do these bubbles come from?
You know The little Mermaid. I know the Little Mermaid. We all know The little Mermaid. But do you know what it looks like when you add parkour battles in post-apocalyptic Tokyo? Of The attack of the Titans director Tetsuro Araki and Japanese animation studio Wit Studio present the latest sublime anime from Netflix, Bubblewhich puts a more dazzling spin on the disaster apocalypse genre and mixes it with Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic mertale.* — Shannon Connellan, British editor.
*This blurb was on a previous Mashable listing.