7 Asian-American Movies To Watch In Honor Of AAPI Heritage Month

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month!

In the United States, May is a month dedicated to recognizing the culture and history of AAPI people, and that means this is the perfect time to check out some motion pictures centering around the story of Asian-Americans. With the recent cases of violence against people of Asian descent, it’s an especially crucial time to get to know more about Asian-Americans, their lives, their cultures, and their struggles that continue to this day.

With that said, we’ve specially curated a list of films that spotlight Asian-American characters, all of which can be watched right now on Viki.

“The Paper Tigers”

If you were a fan of “The Karate Kid” or “Kung Fu Panda,” you’ll most definitely like this movie as well. Growing up, Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) were inseparable best friends and trainees of a respected kung fu master (Roger Yuan). These three kung fu disciples eventually drifted apart and became normal middle-aged men over time, but the trio reunites when they find out their master has been murdered. Now, these three friends must set out on a journey to unravel the mysteries of their master’s death and defend his legacy. “The Paper Tigers” shines light on the culture of kung fu, while telling the story from an immigrant perspective with charming Asian-American actors.

For those of you who are craving a good martial arts action comedy with amazing acting and exciting fight scenes, “The Paper Tigers” will not disappoint you!

Watch it here:

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Minari” is the story of an immigrant South Korean family chasing the American Dream in rural Arkansas. Far from perfection, Jacob (Steven Yeun) and his wife Monica (Han Ye Ri) struggle to meet the high bar that they set for themselves in hopes to provide a better life for their children David (Alan Kim) and Anne (Noel Kate Cho). Their family welcomes a new member when David’s heart condition worsens, which calls for his grandmother Soon Ja (Youn Yuh Jung) to travel from South Korea to take care of him while his parents are at work. Although the pair don’t get along at first, Soon Ja’s kind, loving heart warms David’s and teaches him the lesson of minari (Korean word for dropwort): resilience. Will the seeds of minari prove to be plentiful? “Minari,” a semi-autobiographical take on Director Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood, has received tremendous critical acclaim—the film scoring six nominations at the Academy Awards and Youn Yuh Jung winning Best Supporting Actress. Dubbed “the best film of 2020” by many, “Minari” is a must watch for the Asian community.

“Minari” is coming soon to Viki! Watch the trailer here:

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“Go Back to China”

Sasha Li (Anna Akana) is a rich party girl in LA enjoying the best of her life with no intent of finding a job after graduating from a design school. When she splurges on half of her trust fund, her enraged father cuts off all financial support and leaves her with two options—to either give up her luxurious lifestyle forever or work for the family toy business in China for a year. Sasha’s journey to China may have started off as a means to reclaim her wealthy past, but as she reunites with her half-sister Carol (Lynn Chen), not only does Sasha overcome the cultural barriers with her estranged family, but she also leads her family business to thrive once again. “Go Back to China” is a heartwarming, entertaining portrayal of the life of an Asian-American family that thoughtfully explores the value of work and family.

If you’re curious about how this spoiled American fashionista finds her way in China, check out “Go Back to China” below!

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“Goodbye Mother”

Nau Van (Lanh Thanh), the oldest grandson of a conservative Vietnamese family living in the United States, returns to his homeland with his Vietnamese-American boyfriend Ian (Vo Dien Gia Huy). Van wants to confess his relationship with Ian to his family, but his plan turns out to be more difficult than he had expected when every member of his family expects him to get married and have children. Van struggles as he is forced to make a life-changing decision—whether to fulfill his duty as the family heir and comply with his mother’s expectations or continue his relationship with Ian despite the disapproval of his family and the prejudice of the Vietnamese society. “Goodbye Mother” spotlights the difficulties of living as a homosexual Vietnamese-American within a touching family tale.

If you’re in the mood for an emotional tear-jerking film that offers invaluable life lessons, look no further and watch “Goodbye Mother” here!

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“The Farewell”

The Farewell” tells the experiences of a Chinese family coping to say goodbye to their beloved Nai Nai, who has fallen ill with terminal lung cancer. Instead of telling her the truth about her diagnosis, the family collectively decides to tell a lie: that she was fine and was going to live a long, healthy life. Billi, her granddaughter, has internal conflicts as the Western and Eastern parts of her start to collide—does her grandmother have a right to know what is happening, or is ignorance bliss? In this hilarious tearjerker, we tap into the different forms of family love between cultures. While Western values may place priority on individualism, Eastern beliefs teach that collectivism, especially coming together as a family, is what matters the most. Although Billi’s family tells an elaborate lie to Nai Nai about a life-or-death matter, they cannot be judged since they are merely doing what they sincerely think is best. This movie shows that love in Asian families, although it may not be as explicit as in other cultures, is one of the most beautiful, strongest human connections.

“The Farewell” is coming soon to Viki! Stay tuned!

“Empty by Design”

Samantha (Rhian Ramos) and Eric (Osric Chau) are two different people from different walks of life with one thing in common—they were born in Manila, Philippines and spent part of their childhood there. The sudden passing of Samantha’s parents forces her to pause her studies in London and return to Manila, while Eric, a stuntman who has lived most of his life in the United States, takes on a gig for a movie that happens to be set in his hometown. Brought back to their native country, they are faced with a difficult question: Where is home? No matter what they do, they can’t help but feel lonely and out of place in their own hometown. After Samantha and Eric coincidentally cross paths, they start to rely on one another as they each try to solve their worries about identity, career, and family. Adorned by beautiful Philippine sceneries, “Empty by Design” delves into the complex emotions felt by adult third culture kids who return to their place of birth.

Watch Samantha and Eric’s story in “Empty by Design” here:

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“No Crying at the Dinner Table”

In this short documentary, Director Carol Nguyen turns the camera on her family: her mother, father, and sister. Being a family of Vietnamese immigrants in Canada, their lives have been a constant struggle for survival—giving them less than enough time to get to know each other. Carol sits each member down and has a heart-to-heart conversation on their lives, not just about cold facts, but about how certain events affected them mentally and emotionally. The family finally gathers at the dinner table, and together they listen to each other’s frank confessions of human relationship, suicide, and loss. Emotional disconnection from the people whom we are connected to by blood is common, but often overlooked. This refreshing tale of family reconnection through brutal honesty gives every viewer a new perspective and makes them rethink their relationship with self care, mental health, and the meaning of family.

Check out “No Crying at the Dinner Table” below!

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