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Best Movies Starring Asian or Pacific Islanders

In the United States, May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As a way to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, here are 20 Best Movies Starring Asian or Pacific Islanders. 

About Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States will begin on May 1 and ends on May 31. It’s an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States.

How to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to the UWCI, 8 Ways to Celebrate Asian/Pacific Heritage Month:
  1. Explore AAPI History. 
  2. Read Books with AAPI Connections. 
  3. Watch a Movie. 
  4. Support Central Indiana’s Asian/Pacific Communities. 
  5. Explore Asian/Pacific Art. 
  6. Discover Asian/Pacific Horticulture. 
  7. Try Asian/Pacific Gourmet. 
  8. Learn about Indianapolis’ Three Asian Sister Cities.

Best Movies Starring Asian or Pacific Islanders

Minari
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim (Actors)

Minari

A Korean-American family weathers the challenges that come with starting a new life when they move to an Arkansas farm in search of the American dream.
Far Western
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Charlie Nagatani, Masuo Sasabe, Ryukichi Hayakawa (Actors)

Far Western

As Japan awakened from the horrors of WWII the bittersweet sounds of American country music began drifting across the radio airwaves. Seventy years later, a devoted group of Japanese musicians pursue a lifelong passion for country music in honky-tonks from Tokyo to Nashville.
Parasite
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kang Ho Song, Sun Kyun Lee, Yeo Jeong Cho (Actors)

Parasite

Greed and class discrimination threaten the relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan in Bong Joon Ho’s darkly hilarious modern fairytale.

Seven Samurai (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima (Actors)

Seven Samurai

One of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits.
The Joy Luck Club
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Lisa Lu, Tsai Chin, Kieu Chinh (Actors)

The Joy Luck Club

Young women explore the difficulties of mother/daughter relationships.

Whale Rider

Whale Rider is a beautiful and empowering film; this critically acclaimed audience favorite is good for the whole family.
Crazy Rich Asians
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan (Actors)

Crazy Rich Asians

Based on the acclaimed worldwide bestseller. Native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her boyfriend to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore and meets his family for the first time.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi (Actors)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

An epic set against the breathtaking landscapes of ancient China, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon combines the exhilarating martial arts choreography by Yuen Wo-Ping (The Matrix) with the sensitivity and classical storytelling of an Ang Lee film. The result is something truly unexpected: romantic, emotionally powerful entertainment.
Mulan
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Ming-Na, B.D. Wong, Eddie Murphy (Actors)

Mulan

A girl pretends to be a man and takes her father’s place in the army.

To continue this unit study, check out the Mulan Movie Study

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Life of Pi
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu (Actors)

Life of Pi

A shipwreck leaves a boy lost at sea aboard a lifeboat with a massive Bengal tiger in Ang Lee’s visually stunning Oscar(R)-winner.
Abominable
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Albert Tsai (Actors)

Abominable

When friends Yi (Chloe Bennet), Jin, and Peng discover a Yeti, they name him Everest and embark on a journey across China to reunite the magical creature with his family.
Moana
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House (Actors)

Moana

Moana sets sail on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, she meets the once-mighty demigod Maui–together they cross the ocean on a fun-filled, action-packed voyage.
Always Be My Maybe
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Gerald Anderson, Arci Muñoz, Jane Oineza (Actors)

Always Be My Maybe

Jake (Gerald Anderson) and Tintin (Arci Munoz) are both reeling from bad breakups and sadly, are not over their exes. To heal faster from them, they decide to use each other physically for nothing serious. But what happens, if one of them does want to take it to a serious turn and define the relationship? “Always Be My Maybe” is a Filipino romantic comedy film from Star Cinema.
Lilo & Stitch
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere (Actors)

Lilo & Stitch

A girl adopts a puppy that turns out to be a mischievous alien.

Over the Moon

Fueled by memories of her mother, resourceful Fei Fei builds a rocket to the moon on a mission to prove the existence of a legendary moon goddess. | Stream on Netflix

Yesterday
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino (Actors)

Yesterday

A struggling musician awakens to discover that he is literally the only person alive who knows who the Beatles are.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jiro Ono (Actor)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

An enthralling portrait of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo, whose award-winning eatery is a destination spot for sushi lovers everywhere.
Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes (Actors)

Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo mesmerizes the people of a local fishing village with his magical gift for spinning wild tales with origami.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang (Actors)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) must face the past he thought he left behind and confront his father, the leader of the dangerous Ten Rings organization.

Turning Red

Mei Lee is a 13-year-old girl who is torn between being her mother’s obedient daughter and the chaos of her youth. As if that were not enough, when she gets too excited, she turns into a big red panda. | Stream on Disney+

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