In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, I’ve made a list of the best Asian movies you can watch for free online. With the recent release and success of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Parasite”, Asian representation in movies is at an all-time high. The criteria used to make this list include:

  • The movie must be free to watch legally.
  • Movies produced in Asian countries
  • American movies are accepted if the majority of the cast members are of Asian descent.
  • Although major streaming websites (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, etc.) have free trials and have a good number of Asian movies, they’re not counted.

There will be glaring omissions including the 2 movies already mentioned, simply because they’re not free or because I haven’t watched them.

Get your digital library card here, if you don’t already have one. You will need it to access Kanopy and Hoopla.

Note: To be honest I’m biased towards genre movies (sci-Fi, horror, action), whether or not it stands the test of time, and repetitive viewing.

#15 Scent Of Green Papaya

Vietnamese | Drama | English Subtitles | Watch It On Kanopy

A coming of age story with hardly any dialogue, it’s still riveting to watch. It’s like watching art and poetry coming together into film.

The Scent of Green Papaya (1993) 104min | Drama, Music, Romance | 28 January 1994 (USA) Summary: A Vietnamese servant girl, Mui, observes lives within two different Saigon families: the first, a woman textile seller with three boys and a frequently absent husband; the second, a handsome young pianist with his fiancée.
Countries: France, VietnamLanguages: Vietnamese

#14 Picture Bride

Japanese | Drama | English Subtitles | Watch It On Hoopla

Picture Bride (1994) 94min | Drama, Romance | 5 May 1995 (USA) Summary: Riyo marries a man more than twice her age. She is devastated and labors in the sugar cane field. At the end she is able to love her husband.
Countries: Japan, USALanguages: English, Japanese


#13 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Chinese | Action/Drama | English Subtitles | Watch It On CTV

Action, drama, romance, it works on so many ways. Great acting by the cast and a martial arts movie with heart and soul.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) 120min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy | 12 January 2001 (USA) Summary: A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.
Countries: Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, ChinaLanguages: Mandarin


#12 Kung Fu Hustle

Chinese | Action/Comedy/Fantasy | English Subtitles | Watch It On Hoopla
Making fun of its own genre, this movie is hilarious and action fans will be entertained.

Kung Fu Hustle (2004) 99min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy | 22 April 2005 (USA) Summary: In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.
Countries: Hong Kong, China, USALanguages: Cantonese, Mandarin


#11 Old Boy

Korean | Action/Drama/Mystery | English Subtitles | Watch It On Hoopla

Oldboy is violent, very violent but don’t let that interfere from watching it. It has more to offer than action and violence, its a lesson about consequences from our actions, the need to get revenge and get the truth.

Oldboy (2003) 120min | Action, Drama, Mystery | 21 November 2003 (South Korea) Summary: After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.
Countries: South KoreaLanguages: Korean

Click Here for Part 2 of Top 15 Asian Movies Online for Free

Click Here for Part 3 of Top 15 Asian Movies Online for Free