In recent years Asian films have become more popular in the US, with Asian-American filmmakers producing popular works in Hollywood and films like Parasite and Minari gaining critical acclaim. With this surge in exposure, many Americans are being introduced to the wide array of films from AAPI creators, from Korean romance movies and Bollywood musicals to Chinese action films and Asian-American coming-of-age tales. For Netflix fans, here are the films streaming on Netflix to give you a sampling of the mass of excellent films from Asian filmmakers.
'Always Be My Maybe'
This sweet contemporary rom-com has everything: childhood friends reconnecting and slowly falling for each other, hilarious side characters, and Keanu Reeves as an enthralling, distracting ex. It's packed with charm and stars Ali Wong and Randall Park are totally hilarious (and did we mention Keanu Reeves?).
This visually-stunning immigration drama, inspired by Master of None co-creator Alan Yang's own father, follows Taiwanese patriarch Pin-Jiu (Tzi Ma), with timelines showing both his initial struggles after arriving in the U.S. and his present-day estrangement from his adult daughter Angela (Christine Ko).
Parasite's Bong Joon-ho directed this heartwarming film about a girl and her beloved genetically-modified pig. Though Mia (An Seo Hyun) has raised Okja since it was a piglet, the super pig belongs to an conglomerate (led by Tilda Swinton) that has plans for a line of genetic meat products. When the company comes for Okja, Mia follows them from Seoul to New York to save her friend.
'To All the Boys I've Loved Before'
If you somehow missed this beloved adaptation of Jenny Han's YA novel, or the two other films of the trilogy, now's the perfect time to dive into this romance. When Lara Jean Covey's (Lana Condor) secret love letters written to her past loves are accidentally sent out, she lands in a fake relationship turned real flirtation with school stud Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo).
This documentary follows three Chinese-American teenagers who find out that they're related through a genetic testing site. Directed by one of the girls' aunts, the doc shows the teens' sweet, immediate bond as they search for their birth parents together.
'The White Tiger'
Adapted from the novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, this film tells a story of wealth inequality and injustice through Balram, a now-wealthy entrepreneur who grew up in poverty. Narrating the story of his life, Balram reflects on his job as a chauffeur to heir Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and his kind wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas).
This Goonies-esque action film follows siblings Pili (Kea Peahu) and Ioane (Alex Aiono), whose mother moves them from Brooklyn to rural Hawaii to take care of their ailing grandfather. Tomboy Pili soon finds a journal that and sets off to find a hidden treasure among the island's volcanic caves, with Ioane and two new friends in tow.
'Amy Tan: An Unintended Memoir'
Many of us read the classic novel The Joy Luck Club in school, but we may not know about author Amy Tan's impressive legacy. This documentary gives an intimate look at her life story, along with commentary from her friends and family, fellow authors, and the cast of The Joy Luck Club's 1993 film adaptation.
'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga'
This comedy (translated to How I Felt When I Saw That Girl) isn't the typical boy-meets-girl rom-com. Instead, our lead Sweety (Sonam Ahuja) is in love with a woman named Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), in Bollywood's first LGBTQ+ romance. Soon an adoring friend and playwright (played by Rajkummar Rao) decides the best way to help the women find acceptance is by putting a grand musical.
'The Half of It'
Small-town teen Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) stays under the radar at her school, minus her business ghostwriting papers for students. When Ellie agrees to write love letters to new student Aster (Alexxis Lemire) on behalf of jock Paul (Daniel Diemer), she begins falling for Aster herself in this sweet teen flick.
'Tune in for Love'
This Korean romance follows couple Mi-soo and Hyun-Woo (played by Kim Go-eun and Jung Hae-in) as they meet as teens and cross paths several times over the next decade. Along the way, miscommunication and poor timing keep them apart, but they're always drawn toward each other.
This cult-classic film series from Hong Kong is based on the titular man, a grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun who taught legendary actor Bruce Lee. Inspired by Ip's early life in Foshan, China, the first of the series is a must-watch for fans of huge, intricate martial arts scenes.
In this action film from Singapore where superheroes exist, kids EJ (Kai Ko) and Hsin-Hsin (Ariel Lin) become orphans after a fight between heroes goes awry. EJ falls in unrequited love with Hsin-Hsin, and after learning she likes "brave guys," he trains to become a boxer who finds his own "superpower."
As a teenager in 1992, Sandi Tan and two friends made Singapore's first scripted indie film, but their older American mentor disappeared with the footage. In this documentary, Tan reconstructs the footage found 20 years later, and retells the making of the lost film.
In this film's near dystopian future, single mother Gwen (Jacqueline Kim) is fired from her job because of her age at the same time a space opens up at a prestigious school for 13-year-old daughter Jules (Samantha Kim). To pay for Jules' tuition, Gwen considers undergoing a drastic procedure that would get her job back, but would also severely alter her relationship with Jules.
This South Korean comedy has a hilarious premise: a 73-year-old woman who feels like a burden on her family is transformed back into her 20-year-old self. So she does what anyone else would do: bond with her grandson by joining his failing rock band and transforms it into a semi-successful pop group. (Also, the film's director is Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk.)
This Indian film follows the romance between Ashwin (Vivek Gomber), a renowned architect who has moved to Mumbai from the US after a breakup, and Ratna (Tillotama Shome), his live-in maid who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. In addition to their love story, Ratna also gets the spotlight as she pursues her dreams, and refusing to let anyone stand in her way.
'The Hows of Us'
In this hit Philippine rom-com, aspiring doctor George (Kathryn Bernardo) and aspiring musician Primo (Daniel Padilla) fall in love as young college students. Eventually real life gets in the way of their aspirations and affects their relationship. In addition to the screen romance, the actors are also a real-life couple who've been dating for over nine years.
Filipina actress Isabel Sandoval wrote, directed, and stars in this drama about an undocumented trans woman who works as a live-in caregiver in Brooklyn, NY. When her employer's grandson Alex (Eamon Farren) moves back in after a stint in rehab, Olivia's (Sandoval) friendship with him slowly builds into something deeper.
This Chinese fantasy film follows Sang Yu (Darren Wang), an aspiring screenwriter who's plagued by nightmares of a demon who's trying to kill him. One night, after trying to stay awake, he discovers that he can bring objects from the dream with him when he wakes up. Yu uses his powers to get rich and win the heart of his childhood crush Hua Er (Song Jia), but the costs are high when gangster Qiang Ge (Wu Gang) wants to use him as a tool.
'Om Shanti Om'
In this modern homage to '70s Bollywood films, aspiring actor Om Prakash (Shah Rukh Khan) dies in a fire while trying to save his true love, mega-star Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone) from her abusive producer (Arjun Rampal). Thirty years later, Om, reincarnated as a superstar himself, regains his past memories and sets out to avenge his own death.
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
'Stranger Things' Season 5: Everything We Know
The Netflix hit is coming back for one final season.
By Quinci LeGardye
14 Abortion Rights Organizations Accepting Donations to Support Their Fight
'Roe' is no longer the law of the land, but these organizations won't stop fighting.
By Gabrielle Ulubay
All of the Best Fourth of July Fashion Sales
Let the savings begin.
By Julia Marzovilla
The 22 Best Korean Romance Movies Ever Made
They'll shatter your heart, then put it back together again.
By Marina Liao
The 14 Korean Thrillers on Netflix You Need to See
Good luck sleeping after watching these.
By Quinci LeGardye
The 20 Best Drama Movies of 2022 (So Far)
From acclaimed indie films to music biopics.
By Quinci LeGardye
The 80 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time
Where does your fave fall on the list?
By The Editors
The 15 Best Comedy Movies on Hulu
For when you just need a good laugh.
By Megan DiTrolio
The 50 Best 2000s Movies
Juicy Couture tracksuit recommended, but not required.
By Bianca Rodriguez
90 Must-Watch Movies: The Best Movies of All Time
The essentials. (Netflix password not included.)
By Bianca Rodriguez
The 79 Best '90s Movies That Are Modern Classics
Truly the golden age of cinema.
By Kayleigh Roberts