Loved 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' and 'Great British Bake Off'? Watch Netflix’s ‘The Brothers’ Sun’

The streamer's latest action series stars Michelle Yeoh and a lot of sweets.

Michelle Yeoh as Mama Sun in episode 101 of The Brothers Sun
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

We may be only four days into the new year, but we're calling it: One of the best action series of 2024 has just arrived. Netflix's latest release, The Brothers Sun, is a genre-bending, irreverent Taiwanese-American family drama that seems designed to surprise viewers at every moment.

The series' pilot opens on a penthouse bachelor's pad in Taipei, and quickly introduces legendary killer Charles "Chairleg" Sun (Justin Chien) as he's... baking. Gorgeous shots of falling dusting sugar and drizzled strawberry syrup play as I began to wonder, Did I somehow click on the wrong title? Three masked assassins then break into the apartment, and Charles fights them off in a kinetic, excellently-choreographed one-shot sequence. At the fight's midpoint, he's kicked into a rotating TV, and all the action is pushed to the back as the camera focuses on Great British Baking Show playing in the foreground.

Charles (nicknamed Chairleg because he once killed a man with one) is the eldest son of triad leader Big Sun, who controls a super-secretive, super-powerful underground crime network in Taiwan. When his father is injured by another mysterious assassin, Charles is immediately charged with protecting his mother Eileen (Michelle Yeoh), who lives in L.A. with his little brother Bruce (Sam Song Li). For reasons Charles does not yet know, Eileen left the triad to live a quiet life in America, while pre-med student (and amateur improv comedian) Bruce is completely in the dark about his family's secrets. When Charles brings the triad's numerous enemies to his estranged family's doorstep, things get real wild real fast.

It's hard not to compare The Brothers Sun to Everything Everywhere All At Once, and not just because the zany new series, which debuted on the streaming giant on January 4, also stars Academy Award-winner Michelle Yeoh. Conceptualized by an all-Asian writers’ room and starring a predominately-Asian cast, the new action series operates in the same field as the Oscar-winning film: Both of the projects employ near-constant chaos and irreverent humor to tell a surprisingly heartfelt story.

There's several plot-led mysteries to solve in the eight-episode season: Why did one of the rival triads decide to strike? Are the Suns in the middle of a war for dominance, or something more? Will we learn any of the countless secrets Eileen is undoubtedly hiding (like, why is she a target if she seemingly isn't involved with the triad anymore)? However, the more-interesting draw is watching a mother and her sons reconnect despite the baggage between them, as well as the show's themes of familial duty and sacrifice. It elevates the cultural specificity of this very authentic family story to tell a universal tale.

Sam Song Li as Bruce Sun, Justin Chien as Charles Sun in episode 106 of The Brothers Sun

(Image credit: Michael Desmond/Netflix)

Both Chien and Li are breakout stars as Charles and Bruce, who each have to deal with their own fish-out-of-water antics as their cultures clash. Li, who's best known as a popular content creator, gives a nuanced and sympathetic portrayal of a character as he goes from being a burden to an asset (and learns that his mother has experience with a bone saw). Meanwhile, Chien makes the series' tongue-in-cheek fight scenes look effortless, while holding his own alongside Yeoh in dramatic scenes. Charles is also the source of the show's many GBBO connections, and finds time among the tense conflict to study and perfect his newest obsession, the churro. (I dare you to make it through the show without forming a fictional crush on the character or at least craving a churro.) Along with Chien and Li, the show's entire ensemble cast is filled with talented up-and-comers that fill the show's well-crafted world.

And after last year's history-making awards sweep, everyone knows (or should know) that if you give Yeoh a well-written script, she will make magic. Co-creators Byron Wu and Brad Falchuk crafted the role specifically with her in mind. The Brothers Sun revels in giving the star standout moments to show how Eileen is the smartest strategist in the entire triad system. There's a super-spy vibe to the show as she uses her connections to uncover rival gangs' networks, and each of her plans use the crime world's patriarchal ways against them. In my favorite of these moments, a mahjong club becomes a whisper network of the people who know everything about these men: their wives, housekeepers, and aunties (both in the literal and colloquial sense, as that's the title for elder women in several cultures). It's exhilarating to see Yeoh in another role that lets her employ the majority of her skills, and The Brothers Sun should receive a season 2 renewal just for her presence alone.

The Brothers Sun's finale leaves room the door open to continue the family's story (look out for a post-credits scene!). But season 1 also stands strong as its own jam-packed exploration of an estranged family finding their way back to each other. Each scene provides either a laugh-out-loud moment of absurdity, a new link in the engrossing gangster mystery, or an emotional arc showing that the center of all this violence and intrigue is one goal: protecting the family.

If the rest of 2024's streaming hits are going to be as well-constructed and all-out fun as this kickoff series, we're all in for a great year.

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.