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Top 15 Asian-Led Films & Series to Binge-Watch This AAPI Heritage Month

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

May marks the start of my two favorite seasons: summer break and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – the perfect opportunity to express my pride in my Asian American heritage. And what better time to browse the vast catalog of Asian-led films and TV series? Whether you identify as a member of this community or are simply looking for binge-worthy media, this list is an introduction to just a few cinematic masterpieces! 

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

One of the most iconic films last year, Michelle Yeoh stars as a Chinese immigrant exploring parallel universes against a multiverse threat in this sci-fi dramedy. Everything Everywhere All at Once delves thoroughly into the themes of Asian American heritage, generational trauma and nihilism. If you’re looking for a hilarious yet emotionally gripping and visually stunning film, this is the one for you. 

Check out the trailer here!

2. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

A Hong Kong film starring director Stephen Chow, this sports comedy is perfect for all looking for the laugh of a lifetime. Shaolin Soccer centers on a Shaolin monk who seeks to assemble Team Shaolin, an invincible soccer team grounded in kung fu spirituality, against the opposing Team Evil. 

Check out the trailer here!

3. Minari (2020)

A film virtually released during the pandemic, this Korean American drama features The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun. Earning widespread critical appraise, Minari follows the story of South Korean immigrants chasing the American Dream in the 1980s. You’re sure to walk away from this film with a deeper understanding of the Asian American experience. 

Check out the trailer here!

4. Parasite (2019)

One of the most popular films of 2019, this South Korean dark dramedy thriller stars Song Kang-ho, Cho Yeo-jeong and Choi Woo-shik. Exploring wealth inequality, Parasite features the collision (in the form of their mutual disdain for and reliance on one another) of two families on polar ends of the socioeconomic ladder: the Kims and the Parks. 

Check out the trailer here!

5. A Sun (2019)

An underrated Taiwanese drama starring Wu Chien-ho and Greg Hsu, this film revolves around the mature themes of suicide and socioeconomic inequality. In it, familial pressures, incarceration and loss threaten to tear a family apart. A Sun is perfect for those seeking a raw, gripping tragedy.

Check out the trailer here!

6. Your Name Engraved Herein (2020)

Another Taiwanese film, this romantic theme features Edward Chen, Jing-Hua Tseng and Leon Dai with a focus on LGBTQ+ themes. The most successful gay-themed film in Taiwan thus far, Your Name Engraved Herein explores a love story that blooms in a society rife with homophobia. 

Check out the trailer here!

7. Shutter (2004)

Fellow supernatural horror fans will be pleased to see the inclusion of this internationally-recognized Thai film. Starring Ananda Everingham and Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Shutter depicts the haunting of a friend group afflicted with a string of suspicious suicides at the hands of a ghost that appears only in developed photographs. 

Check out the trailer here!

8. RRR (2022)

One of the most popular Telugu cinema films across the world, RRR recounts the plight of Indian revolutionaries in the face of British rule throughout the mid-19th and 20th centuries. Starring N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan and Ajay Devgn, this film tackles institutional racism and mythological themes. 

Check out the trailer here!

9. Turning Red (2022)

Looking for a family-friendly film for your weekly movie night? Give Turning Red a watch! This animated comedy depicts a Chinese-Canadian girl cursed to transform into a red panda when she experiences extreme emotions. On a deeper level, this coming-of-age film celebrates Chinese culture. 

Check out the trailer here!

10. Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Another film for families, Raya and the Last Dragon is grounded in Southeast Asian culture. This fantasy-action tells the tale of a princess who embarks on an adventure in pursuit of a dragon gem for the sake of her homeland.

Check out the trailer here!

In the mood for something a little longer? Here are five Asian-themed TV series to add to your watchlist!

1. Churails (2020–)

An Urdu-language Pakistani series featuring Sarwat Gilani, Mehar Bano, Nimra Bucha and Yasra Rizvi, Churails is a woman-led mystery drama about four women who jointly establish an investigative agency to expose cheating husbands. 

Check out the trailer here!

2. The Rise of Phoenixes (2018)

A popular Chinese historical romance starring Chen Kun and Ni Ni, The Rise of Phoenixes follows the stories of a justice-seeking prince and scholarly woman in disguise amid political corruption. 

Check out the trailer here!

3. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)

A Korean legal drama featuring Park Eun-bin, Extraordinary Attorney Woo recounts the experiences of an autistic woman navigating her career as a lawyer. 

Check out the trailer here!

4. Alice in Borderland (2020–)

A classic Japanese sci-fi thriller brought from a manga to the big screen, Alice in Borderland stars Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya as unwilling players who must survive card-themed death games.  

Check out the trailer here!

5. Street Food, Volume 1: Asia (2019)

Take a break from story-based series with Street Food, a docuseries aimed at exposing audiences to worldwide cuisine and its significance to the street food chefs’ respective cultures. 

Check out the trailer here!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll breeze through this list in a matter of weeks, but the stream of Asian-led media is never-ending. As spring bleeds into summer, kick back on your couch for a movie and film spree with popcorn and a cozy blanket for a break. You deserve it!

Michelle Wang is an Ohio State pre-law student majoring in Criminology and History. Beyond academics, her interests include creative writing, Wushu, Korean- and Mandopop and all things history (with a particular fondness for Tudor England). She hopes to share her love for writing in all its mediums!