The 10 Best AAPI Movies of All Time to Celebrate Asian Heritage Month

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The 10 Best AAPI MoviesA24
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AAPI Heritage Month reminds us to celebrate the remarkable contributions, achievements, and cultural heritage of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders across the United States. This month-long celebration is the perfect time to dive into movies that honor the Asian experience and showcase the exceptional talent of Asian-American filmmakers and artists.

Regardless of your heritage, these 10 extraordinary films will connect you with Asian Americans during AAPI month to learn about the diverse cultures, histories, and traditions of Asian communities across the globe. From poignant classics like "The Joy Luck Club" to the recent 7-time Oscar-winning "Everything Everywhere All At Once," each of these films will take you on a journey through the unique landscape of AAPI storytelling. We hope you appreciate the beauty, complexity, and profound resonance of each of these movies’ narratives — and yes, you may need to grab tissues for some, especially the ones starring Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh.

"Everything Everywhere All At Once"

A combination of science fiction and action comedy, “Everything Everywhere All At Once" (directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) explores complex themes of identity, existentialism, and the nature of reality. It also offers heartfelt moments of human connection. This movie revolves around a Chinese American woman named Evelyn Wang, who finds herself trapped in a mundane and unfulfilling existence. Her life takes a surreal turn when she discovers that she is connected to multiple parallel universes. Her estranged husband helps her embark on a mind-bending journey across different dimensions to save herself and her loved ones from a looming existential threat.

This mesmerizing film stars Michelle Yeoh in the lead role alongside Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis, among others. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2022, critics and audiences alike have praised this extraordinary film for its dazzling visuals, imaginative premise, and standout performances.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Everything Everywhere All At Once"</p><p></p><p>$19.99</p><span class="copyright">A24</span>

"The Joy Luck Club"

Directed by Wayne Wang and based on the 1989 novel of the same name by Amy Tan, "The Joy Luck Club," was both a critical and commercial success upon its release, which was not common for Asian-American movies at the time. The 1993 American drama had an ensemble cast that included Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, Rosalind Chao, and Kieu Chinh.

The movie follows the lives of four Chinese American immigrant families living in San Francisco who gather regularly to play mahjong and share their stories. Gut-wrenching at times, viewers will see a series of interwoven flashbacks and present-day scenes that explore the complex relationships between Asian mothers and daughters. Themes of assimilation, cultural identity, and the immigrant experience are also explored.

The four present-day daughters reveal their individual struggles, triumphs, and personal growth while their mothers, who immigrated to the United States from China, grapple with their daughters' desires to embrace American culture while still honoring their Chinese heritage.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"The Joy Luck Club"</p><p></p><p>$4.99</p><span class="copyright">Walt Disney Studios</span>


"Minari" is a 2020 American drama film written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, and based on his own childhood experiences growing up. Set in the 1980s, the film tells the story of a Korean American family who moves to a farm in rural Arkansas to pursue the American dream.

In the movie, you’ll meet Jacob and Monica Yi (played by Steven Yeun, who went on to win an Academy Award for this portrayal, making him the first Asian American actor to be nominated in that category, and Han Ye-ri), who relocate with their two children to start a new life and farm Korean produce. Monica's mother arrives, bringing humor and wisdom to their household and enriching their family dynamic.

Exploring themes of identity, family, immigration, and the pursuit of happiness, this film also celebrates the resilience and strength of the human spirit.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Minari"</p><p></p><p>$3.99</p><span class="copyright">A24</span>

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"Crazy Rich Asians"

The 2018 gem "Crazy Rich Asians" brings both laughter and heart to the screen while celebrating Asian Americans. Directed by Jon M. Chu, the movie follows Rachel Chu as she navigates the glitz and glamour of her boyfriend’s Singapore high society life. With a stellar ensemble cast — including Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, and Michelle Yeoh — this fun flick offers a fresh take on the rom-com genre. The film also explores themes of family, tradition, and wealth while challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers in Hollywood.

You’ll love the opulent settings, glamorous fashion, and witty humor of this delightful celebration of love, family, and cultural identity. Don't miss out on the fun and charm of this groundbreaking film.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Crazy Rich Asians"</p><p></p><p>$4.99</p><span class="copyright">Warner Brothers</span>

"Life of Pi"

"Life of Pi," directed by Ang Lee and based on Yann Martel's novel of the same name, follows Pi Patel, a young Indian boy who survives a shipwreck and finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

In this 2012 adventure drama, you'll witness Pi struggle to survive in the vast ocean while he forms an unexpected bond with the tiger, leading to a remarkable journey of self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment. Themes of of survival, faith, and the power of storytelling are woven together in this extraordinary film. While reality and imagination get blurred at times, this movie's visuals transport viewers to a mesmerizing world of wonder and awe.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Life of Pi"</p><p></p><p>$14.89</p><span class="copyright">Prime Video</span>

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"Life of Pi"


Prime Video

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

Directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel of the same name by Wang Dulu, the critically acclaimed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" follows the destinies of several Qing dynasty characters as they become embroiled in a quest for a stolen sword known. The 2000 martial arts film features characters Yu Shu Lien, a skilled warrior played by Michelle Yeoh, and Li Mu Bai, a legendary swordsman portrayed by Chow Yun-fat. Their paths intersect with a rebellious aristocrat and a desert bandit.

You’ll appreciate this cultural phenomenon’s stunning cinematography, intricate fight choreography, and emotional storytelling. Blending romance, drama, and adventure, you’ll also get a strong sense of the characters’ love, honor, duty, and their pursuit of freedom.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"</p><p></p><p>$13.99</p><span class="copyright">Sony Pictures</span>

"Past Lives"

"Past Lives" is a 2023 romantic drama that’s somewhat based on events that happened to director Celine Song. Starring Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro, this movie follows the evolving relationship between childhood friends Nora and Hae Sung over 24 years. The two-part ways after Nora’s family moves from South Korea, but they’re reunited during a fateful week in New York. Confronting destiny, love, and life-altering decisions, we love the movie’s message of acceptance and embracing the life you have while being present in the moment.

Garnering critical acclaim since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2023, it received multiple award nominations from the Golden Globes and Oscars, among others.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Past Lives"</p><p></p><p>$19.59</p><span class="copyright">A24</span>

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"Past Lives"



"The Karate Kid"

If you've never seen the movie, "The Karate Kid,” you are missing out on the '80s goodness in the classic martial arts drama directed by John G. Avildsen. The movie follows Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchio), a teenage boy who moves to a new city and becomes the target of bullying by a group of karate students. With the help of his apartment complex's maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi, Daniel learns karate and enters a martial arts tournament to confront his bullies.

Throughout, themes like perseverance, friendship, and the importance of mentorship are strong. Through Daniel's training with Mr. Miyagi, he learns valuable life lessons about discipline, respect, and self-confidence. Their bond deepens as Mr. Miyagi imparts wisdom through unconventional methods, such as painting fences and (the infamous and often referenced in pop culture) waxing cars.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"The Karate Kid"</p><p></p><p>$14.09</p><span class="copyright">Sony Pictures</span>

"Better Luck Tomorrow"

Drama "Better Luck Tomorrow" came out in 2002 and follows a group of overachieving Asian American high school students who become involved in a world of crime and deception. Directed by Justin Lin, the movie centers around Ben Manibag, portrayed by Parry Shen. The straight-A student becomes disillusioned with the monotony of his suburban life and the pressures of academic success, so he gets involved in petty crime, like stealing, cheating, and drug dealing.

As he and his friend group’s criminal activities escalate, they find themselves entangled in a web of lies and betrayal that threatens to unravel their carefully constructed lives. The film explores themes of identity, morality, and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

You’ll love this film’s bold storytelling, sharp dialogue, and powerful performances, particularly from its ensemble cast of emerging Asian American actors. The film has since been praised for its authentic portrayal of Asian American youth culture during its time and paved the way for future generations of Asian American filmmakers and actors to tell their stories on the big screen.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"Better Luck Tomorrow"</p><p></p><p>$9.99</p><span class="copyright">Paramount Pictures</span>

"The Namesake"

Based on the novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri, "The Namesake" follows the story of a young Indian American man navigating his identity, family, and cultural heritage. The 2006 drama directed by Mira Nair revolves around the character Gogol Ganguli (played by Kal Penn), who was born to Indian immigrant parents in the United States. Named after Russian author Nikolai Gogol, the movie follows Gogol navigate life from college to career and the relationships he encounters in throughout.

The film — celebrated for its storytelling, character development, and evocative portrayal of the immigrant experience — explores themes of generational differences, the search for belonging, and pressures of assimilation.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>"The Namesake"</p><p></p><p>$16.29</p><span class="copyright">20th Century Fox</span>

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