It’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, so let’s spread some love!
With all the hate and fear from last year, let’s counter it by celebrating this fantastic community and the new perspectives they bring.
I went through my TiVo Stream 4K to gather all the best movies and shows featuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, from the most famous to some hidden gems. Trust me, you’re gonna find something amazing to watch.
Streamland show transcript:
If you’re the type to want a show you can really sink your teeth in, Hawaii Five O is what you should try.
That is, if you like police procedurals with like hundreds of episodes and lots of easter eggs, tie-ins with other series and so on.
Just to test the waters, I recommend going with the Hawaii Five-O series that started in 2010. It’s more modern and you’re probably gonna see most of your favorite Pacific Islander actors.
If you already ran through the whopping two hundred and forty episodes this show has, then you can always go back in time.
The original Hawaii Five O series is a bit dated, starting in the 60s and all that, but is still a great classic to watch as a weekend treat.
The Night Of
I know, I know…. hundreds of episodes is a pretty significant commitment, so I’ll offer a shorter one.
The Night Of is probably one of the best mini-series from the past few years, featuring the Oscar-nominated Riz Ahmed.
You might know him from the Sound of Music, since that’s one of this year’s best movies, but this Emmy-winning performance can’t be missed!
The Night Of follows a Pakistani-American college student who is accused of murdering a girl – and has to go through the US criminal justice system.
Be warned though – this is the type of show that’s going to keep you glued to the screen – and not just because Riz Ahmed is one of the greatest actors nowadays.
This show was written by two heavy hitters: Steven Zaillan, who also wrote Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York and Moneyball, and Richard Price, who is one of the screenwriters of The Wire.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split Trilogy
If you’re in the mood for a movie, I know one…or two, or three… that you should definitely watch – or rewatch – or do a marathon this weekend.
M Night Shyamalan is arguably the most famous person of Indian American heritage in Hollywood…and his Split trilogy is a must-watch for anyone loving a good thriller.
Mr Shyamalan first made his fame with scary movies with a twist, then totally redefined the superhero genre.
I’m no movie critic, but I bet that Unbreakable, the first one with Bruce Willis, is partly responsible for a lot of serious superhero flicks – you know the type, dark, brooding, with twisted heroes.
Then, there’s Split, with James MacAvoy convincingly playing about 20 different characters and Anya Taylor Joy getting her big break in Hollywood.
I won’t give out any spoilers but I will tell you this: if you love movies with Watchmen-like vibes, give M Night Shyamalan’s trilogy a chance.
What We Do In The Shadows
Still, enough with the drama! Let’s celebrate Asian Americans and Pacifican Islanders heritage month with some fun things – because this community has given us, time and time again, some badass comedies.
Without further ado, let me present you my favorite comedy of all time: What We Do In The Shadows.
This 2014 New Zealand mockumentary will make you laugh hysterically not just while watching it, but every time you watch a vampire movie afterwards.
Seriously, I tried watching Interview With A Vampire again, since it’s a great movie, but during every heavy scene I started whistling that You’re Dead tune from What We Do In The Shadows.
This movie took all that was scary about vampires, all those stereotypes from dozens of movies, and turned them into a Friends-type of scenario full of insanity.
The best part? This movie was so good, it spawned a TV series of the same name that you can watch on FX. There’s two seasons now but a third is also on it’s way.
Now, for a tragically underrated comedy, check out Superstore.
I would have totally missed this one if it weren’t for my TiVo Stream 4K cause I’ll be honest – I like Amazon Prime shows, but that user interface is sooo frustrating. Thanks to this little thing, I get to watch their shows on the TiVo dash, without having to bother with the Prime app.
Anyway, Superstore is a comedy about the lives of the people who work in a big-box store called Cloud 9 – and I like to imagine that’s what happens behind the scenes at Amazon too!
From undocumented immigrants to power-tripping managers and corporate climbers, this comedy has a lot of fantastic characters – and you’ll definitely find one you can relate to. Think The Office or Community, but set in like Walmart or Amazon.
I fell in love with the character of Sandra, who plays Ukulele covers of Radiohead songs… which is what I would probably end up doing if I were forced to do her job at Cloud 9.
She’s played by Kaliko Kauahi, a Hawaiian actress you might remember from her hilarious Raven’s Home role.
Speaking of hilarious, you gotta check out Lucky Grandma. I bet I’m literally the only person on YouTube praising this movie but trust me – once you watch it, you’re gonna wanna make your own YouTube channel to start recommending it to others.
Lucky Grandma is about an 80-year-old, chain smoking Chinese grandma who clears out her savings to go play the casino and win big – but instead ends up going toe to toe with Chinese gang members.
It’s a super fresh comedy with characters so good, they could show up in Coen Brothers movies. For me, it’s one of the best things coming out of 2020, so make sure you check it out.
Mortal Kombat 2021
You should also give the new Mortal Kombat a shot. Thanks to my TiVo Stream 4K, I noticed HBO Max is also celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month…and the new MK is a great choice to highlight.
This movie might not have the cheese factor or the soundtrack of the one from the 90s, but it’s a fun action flick full of easter eggs that Mortal Kombat fans will spot instantly.
While I miss the old Raiden and Shang Tsung, I can safely say that the new Scorpion, SubZero and Liu Kang more than make up for that.
I’ve known Hiroyuki Sanada since Sunshine, that scifi movie where they try to reignite the dying sun…but I never imagine he could turn up a performance quite like his Scorpion one.
No spoilers but you’re also gonna want to see what Liu Kang is up to!
For my last recommendation, I’m gonna go back to a more serious topic and a more serious movie – because it’s so good, more people should know about it.
It’s called Columbus and it’s a seriously underrated gem from 2017. Columbus is a slow burner drama, where each character gets time enough to tell their story. It follows a Korean man who has to give up his life in Seoul to come to the US, where his estranged father fell into a coma and may or may not make it.
I can’t say much to make it justice, but I’ll tell you John Cho’s performance is fantastic – and I bet I’ll see him accepting an Oscar in the next few years.
He’s come so far from playing Harold from Harold and Kumar…and we should all follow him to see what’s next.
What about you, what movie or show would you pick to celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their contributions to the arts?
I look forward to your recommendations in the comments – and don’t forget to hit like and subscribe, it helps me bring you more shows like this.
Until next time, you know what you gotta see! Catch you later!