Reel Deal: The most anticipated movies released this September

Halloween may be a month away but the cinemas are already ready to set your mood for the holiday with some new chilling horror films. If that is not your genre of choice, don’t worry because, in September 2023, you will have it all – romance, comedy, science fiction, drama, history, fantasy and more. Ready to make your movie night plans for the month, here are some of the must-watch films releasing in September 2023.

A Time Called You

Following the death of her boyfriend, a sad Han Jun-hee somehow time-travels to the year 1998 where she comes across a man who looks exactly like her boyfriend. What follows as Jun-hee finds herself as a high schooler in this new setting is the primary plot of this feel-good Korean film that any K-movie fan can look forward to.

Release Date: September 8
Language: Korean
Where to watch: Netflix


Egoist is a romantic tale of two people who are pole opposites from one another. One is a magazine editor who often surrounds himself with an elite crowd. Another – his personal trainer – is a high school dropout who has to do several part-time jobs to make ends meet. This BL is certainly a fun and refreshing take on the forced proximity love trope.

Release Date: September 14
Language: Japanese
Where to watch: Theatres

Stand Up Story

Out of ways to make his audience laugh, one standup comedian discovers that the hardships he faced growing up and being his neurodivergent father’s primary caregiver at a very young age are the best inspirations for his script. Stand Up Story is emotional and throws light into the ups and downs of looking at past struggles from a new perspective.

Release Date: September 14
Language: Cantonese
Where to watch: Theatres

Back Home

Displeased with his ability to see ghosts, Heung Wing decides to leave Hong Kong and live in Canada where he can forget all his past miseries. However, his mother’s suicide attempt brings him back to his home where nothing feels familiar any more and to make things worse, the spirits of his neighbours who have killed themselves appear in front of him. What lies behind these mysterious suicides is the gripping question that will have you hooked throughout the movie.

Release Date: September 14
Language: Cantonese
Where to watch: Theatres

Talk To Me

Releasing on the same day is another horror film, but the protagonists are fascinated by their newfound ability to communicate with ghosts. However, this overexcitement leads one of them to make an impulsive decision that blurs the lines between the living and the dead. Talk To Me is a nerve-wracking supernatural film that is interesting until the very last shot.

Release Date: September 14
Language: English
Where to watch: Theatres

Love at First Sight

A perfect movie for the romantic heart, Love at First Sight begins an enticing love story between two people who meet briefly during their flight from New York to London. Whether or not, they will cross each other’s path once again is the premise of this romantic drama that follows the “what is meant to be will always find its way to you” philosophy. Also, don’t forget to grab some tissues.

Release Date: September 15
Language: English
Where to watch: Netflix

The Forger

As a young Jewish man living in 1940s Berlin, Cioma Schönhaus’s only way to survive and not get deported is by committing identity fraud. He decides to live as a German marine specialist instead of hiding away but given the political turmoil in the country, just a new identity won’t be enough. Inspired by historical events, The Forger is a beautifully written holocaust movie that is unique and charming in its own way.

Release Date: September 21
Language: German
Where to watch: Theatres

The Creator

Set in a futuristic timeline, The Creator follows a group of people deployed on a mission to find and kill the architect behind artificial intelligence after the invention puts the entire human race in danger. Unexpectedly, the enemy they have set to destroy is an AI looking like a small child. Described as “a really insane, rich, visual journey.” by its director, Gareth Edwards, The Creator is a sci-fi not to be missed for its plot and cinematography.

Release Date: September 28
Language: English
Where to watch: Theatres

The Moon

When a solar glare causes a South Korean spacecraft headed to the moon to malfunction, one astronaut, Hwang Sun-woo, is stuck in outer space by himself. With the help of a former flight director, the team behind the lunar expedition have to save Sun Woo before his oxygen supply finishes. The Moon is an emotionally intriguing and intellectually enlightening picture that will have you hooked.

Release Date: September 28
Language: Korean
Where to watch: Theatres

More New September 2023 Movies

  • The Nun II – English – September 7 – Theatres
  • Prison Flowers – Cantonese – September 7 – Theatres
  • Father of the Milkway Railroad – Japanese – September 7 – Theatres
  • Ransomed – Korean – September 7 – Theatres
  • Sitting in Bars With Cake – English – September 8 – Amazon Prime
  • A Haunting in Venice – English – September 14 – Theatres
  • Tokyo Revengers 2: Bloody Halloween-Destiny – Japanese – September 14 – Theatres
  • Expendables 4 – English – September 21 – Theatres
  • Bad Education – Taiwanese – September 28 – Theatres

Reel Deal: The most anticipated movies released this August

As we inch closer to the scorching month of August 2023, the silver screen is set to dazzle with a lineup of unmissable cinematic wonders. This article is your ultimate guide to the must-see upcoming movies in August 2023, packed with excitement, drama, and thrills. Whether you’re a fan of mind-bending sci-fi, heartwarming romances, or close-to-death adventures, we have handpicked the most anticipated films that will keep you glued to your seat.

Meg 2: The Trench

In this science-fiction thriller, we have Jason Statham, Wu Jing and their team take on an underwater research expedition that becomes more dangerous than they expected it to be as they have to overcome the challenges exerted by their adversaries, a mining corporation and multiple large-sized Megs (megalodon sharks) that are all putting their life at stake. Meg 2: The Trench is certainly a nerve-racking thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Release Date: August 3
Language: English
Where to watch: Theatres

Mamamoo: My Con

Following the success of two K-pop documentaries based on BTS members Suga (Min Yoongi) and J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), Trafalgar is releasing another limited-period screening project in the shape of Mamamoo: My Con that will only run in theatres for two days. The documentary follows the four-member girl group as they prepare and perform on their first global tour. It is an excellent opportunity for fans (MooMoos) to see their favourite idols’ scintillating stage performances on the big screens while also getting to know all the behind-the-scene activities.

Screening Dates: August 9 and 12
Language: Korean with English subtitles
Where to watch: Theatres

Red, White and Royal Blue

If you are a fan of star-crossed romance, then you should add this new romantic comedy that narrates the tale of the son of the US President and the Prince of England who fall in love with each other against all odds with the unusual circumstances of the romance forcing them to keep their relationship a secret. This enemy-turned-lover romance flick, based on a novel by the same name, is a must-see swoon-worthy LGBT rom-com.

Release Date: August 11
Language: English
Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Depp v. Heard

Based on the infamous Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial last year is this three-part documentary that telecasts the entire case. Rather than focusing only on the court arguments, the documentary goes beyond the courtroom. It addresses how the outside world, particularly social media, had an effect during and after the trial. Taking an objective stance on the popular libel suit is Depp v. Heard, which will interest fans of the documentary and legal drama genres.

Release Date: August 16
Language: English
Where to watch: Netflix

Blue Beetle

This upcoming DC movie marks the big-screen debut of Blue Beetle, a superhero, the franchise initially introduced in their comics back in 1939. Starring Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña as the titular character Blue Beetle, Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes, a university graduate who stumbles upon a device called Scarab that turns him into the superhero, Blue Beetle, who possesses many superpowers. Blue Beetle is an exciting action-packed adventure that depicts the turn of events that occur following this incident.

Release Date: August 17
Language: English
Where to watch: Theatres

Concrete Utopia

Post a huge earthquake, the entire world has crumbled into pieces except for one apartment in Seoul, so when more people start moving into the building for survival, it becomes a fight for resources between the tenants and the newcomers. Fans of the survival genre who enjoy a good apocalypse movie can certainly look forward to this South Korean adventure film Concrete Utopia starring Park Seo Joon and Park Bo Young in the lead.

Release Date: August 17
Language: Korean with English and Chinese subtitles
Where to watch: Theatres

Everyphone Everywhere

When three former classmates – Chit, Ana and Raymond – have a reunion after 25 years, they discuss how their lives turned out in comparison to the plans and desires they had in the past. With this as the primary plot of the movie, audiences are introduced to more storylines that take us into some of the memorable incidents that have occurred in each main character’s life, and in every story, a mobile phone turns out to be the focal object. Set in Hong Kong, Everyphone Everywhere is a nice feel-good movie with a mix of nostalgia, comic relief and other heartfelt emotions.

Release Date: August 17
Language: Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles
Where to watch: Theatres


Forgotten on the streets by its careless owner, a border terrier named Reggie waits hopefully to return home, only to be completely abandoned and left to struggle in the streets by his owner, Doug. Angered and disappointed by Doug’s actions, Reggie is resolute on taking revenge with the help of his newly-found four-legged friends Bug, Maggie and Hunter. Strays swings away from the ‘dog is a man’s best friend’ concept and is a fun live-action comedy guaranteed to make you laugh your socks off.

Release Date: August 24
Language: English
Where to watch: Theatres

Hallyu to the World: The rise and rise of Korean Culture

Back in 1960, South Korea was one of the world’s poorest countries. In the wake of the Korean War, the northeast Asian nation was so poverty-stricken that its GDP per capita clocked in at a meagre US$79. Fast forward six decades, and the country is on an incredible high. Having transitioned from a largely agricultural economy to a high-tech producer of semiconductors, phones and cars, it boasts the fourth largest economy on the continent (in terms of nominal GDP), lagging behind only China, Japan and India.

Home to such plugged-in conglomerates as Samsung, LG and Hyundai, South Korea has also spawned a whole new hit of global exports: Hallyu. If the term is new to you, chances are the phenomenon it represents is not. For the uninitiated, Hallyu is the romanised form of hanryu, the term for what has come to be known as the Korean Wave – the immense growth and export of the country’s pop culture to the world.

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When this movement first began some 20 years ago, it was quickly adopted by neighbours China and Japan, but today Western nations are equally enamoured with all things Korean, be it movies like the 2019 Academy Award-winning film Parasite, TV shows such as 2020’s Crash Landing on You and last year’s record-breaking Squid Game; music (think wildly successful bands such as BTS and girl squads Girls Generation and Blackpink); food, and even cosmetics.

The current global love for all things South Korean can be traced back to the turbulent times of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when the nation took active measures to restrict cultural imports from Japan. To fill the resulting void, a new mission to foster and strengthen local culture and talent was initiated, including pouring funds into creative industries such as film and TV studios. High-quality Korean dramas were produced very cheaply, and these new media offerings rapidly gathered a fan base in China before reaching further afield. Thus, Hallyu spread to the West, piquing the curiosity and capturing the imagination of the ’90s generation.

Also Read: Most famous Asian royals to follow on Instagram!


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Many liken the beginning of the Korean Wave to the popularity that Japan itself experienced around that time, when anime, manga, J-pop music and such heavy hitters as Pokemon and Studio Ghibli gained cult status beyond its shores. However, the critical difference between them is that Hallyu managed to capitalise on the emerging trend of digital globalisation, and thus became accessible to a wider international audience.

As Margot Peppers, Consumer Trends Editor at Foresight Factory, explains: “[Japanese culture is] still seen as offbeat, quirky and cool to like, but it is not necessarily mainstream. [Whereas] there has been such a push for K-dramas and stories that are rooted in Korean settings but still have universal themes and archetypes that everyone across the globe can relate to. They are built on this accessible universality that has really resonated with people.”


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It’s no secret that standards of beauty are often set by what society sees in the media, and given the widespread dissemination of Hallyu, it’s not surprising that many young people want to mimic the pristine, pale skin of Korean celebrities, paving the way for the rise of K-beauty. The country’s cosmetics industry responded deftly, introducing a constant flow of new, innovative and sometimes unusual ingredients – snail slime, starfish extract, pig collagen and bee venom, to name a few – to serve up the Next Big Thing to consumers.

As a result, the South Korean beauty and cosmetics market now ranks among the top 10 worldwide. According to a study published by Portland-based research company Allied Market Research, the business was valued at US$10.2 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to US$13.9 billion by 2027 – representing a staggering 36-percent increase.

 Also Read: Beauty Airbrushing: Why filters are denting our confidence


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South Korean dramas always had an avid fanbase across Asia and its diaspora population, but they have now hit their stride on a global scale. It began when streaming service Netflix decided to break into K-dramas – as the country’s TV series are affectionately dubbed – and debuted its zombie drama series Kingdom in 2019. Since each episode cost a whopping KRW 2.2 billion (about HK$14.4 million) to make, the investment into Hallyu’s popularity was a gamble, to say the least, but the show was received with great acclaim.

Next to break records was Crash Landing on You, which stayed on Netflix Japan’s Top 10 list for 229 consecutive days; it even became the sixth most-watched series in the US. But that all pales in comparison to the enormous cultural impact of nail-biting survival series Squid Game. Having been streamed for a whopping 1.65 billion hours in the first four weeks of airing, it is Netflix’s biggest series launch ever, outstripping nearest competition Bridgerton almost two-fold.

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Korean movies were no less in the spotlight, with comedy-thriller Parasite becoming the first non-English-language film to clinch Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Director Bong Joon-ho nabbed the Best Director prize as well. Then, last year, Minari – which follows the travails of a family of South Korean immigrants in rural ’80s USA – also garnered an Oscar (for supporting actress Youn Yuh-jung), prompting a new generation of Western cinephiles to explore other works by the creative talents in these films.


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While Korean food, cosmetics and films have undoubtedly permeated throughout Asia and the West, there is one aspect of Hallyu that outstrips them all – K-pop. Thanks to its distinctive blend of addictive melodies, slick choreography and production values, and an endless parade of attractive performers who spend years in gruelling studio systems learning to sing and dance in synchronised perfection, K-pop has become a global phenomenon.

No band exemplifies the rise of this sensation than BTS; the country’s leading musical act raked in a massive US$4.65 billion for its economy in 2019. To put that sum into perspective, it equates to 0.3 percent of South Korea’s entire GDP, and more than what many small African nations earned within the same timeframe.

While naysayers may scoff that Hallyu is but a passing phase, the mercenary truth of the matter is that the staying power of the movement is reflected by the financial gains involved. What’s more, it’s not just the bands and the nation that are basking in reflected glory – it’s multinational brands as well, with everyone from McDonald’s and Nike to Louis Vuitton cashing in on collaborations with BTS and their ilk. As long as the attractiveness of the Korean Wave continues to enchant fans, the world will remain at their dancing feet.

Also Read: 10 Most anticipated Asian movies to watch in 2022

(Text: Tenzing Thondup)

10 Most Anticipated Asian movies to watch in 2022

Big-ticket blockbusters to provocative fare, romantic comedies or locally produced sci-fi flair – we’ve compiled the most buzz-worthy Asian films we’re already drooling to lay our eyes on… Bookmark this page, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2022.


Water Gate Bridge: The Battle at Lake Changjin II (China)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu watergate bridge the battle at lake changjin 2 Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam wu jing jackson yee yihang duan elvis han

The sequel to the 2021 blockbuster topper, The Battle at Lake Changjin, the historical war film follows the CPV (Chinese People’s Volunteers ) soldiers onto the battlefield as they face the American troops in their final leg of the battle. Directed by Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam, and starring Wu Jing, Jackson Yee, Duan Yihong and Zhang Hanyu.

Release Date: 1 February 2022

Breaking Through (China)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu breaking through Float in the Sky , Wo Xin Fei Yang wang fang fang meng mei qi xia yu sa ri na bella liang zu zheng

In time for the Beijing Winter Olympics, Breaking Through (also known as Float in the Sky or Wo Xin Fei Yang) is a film inspired by China’s 1980 Winter Olympics delegation. Following the country’s speed skating team and their fight to success, the drama recalls the intensity and heartbreak of its athletes and countrymen that day. The film was directed by Wang Fang Fang, who previously directed another Olympic true story, Champion, and stars Meng Mei Qi, Xia Yu and Sa Ri Na, while featuring Bella Liang and Zu Zheng as supporting roles. 

Release Date: 1 February 2022

Also Read: Simu Liu – Marvel’s first Asian superhero on shaking things up at the white boys’ club

0.1% World (China)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu 0.1% world Zhou Yi Ran, Patrick Shih, Hank Qi and supported by Bai Yu Fei, Wei yun Xi, Mikey Jiao

A rom-com which follows actress Zhou Yi Ran and breakout star Patrick Shih after an accident which results in their ability to feel each other’s emotions and experiences. Melded through minds, the two grow increasingly close while staying apart, and in an endearing, emotional journey they learn that the person that best understands them, is the other. 

Release Date: 14 February 2022

The Fengshen Trilogy (China)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu confidential assignment 2 death notice the fengshen trilogy 2 wuershan bo huang hsiang fei xuejian li and yu xia kun chen

The mythological trilogy is an adaptation of the classic Chinese novel “Creation of the Gods,” an epic blend of history, folklore and mythology set more than 3,000 years ago. The movie traces the fall of the last ruler of the Shang dynasty, King Zhou, who is bewitched by a fox spirit posing as his concubine and becomes an oppressive tyrant. The fantasy drama involving gods, demons, and other supernatural beings, could well put Chinese movies on the global map, not only in terms of scale but quality and finesse too. Starring Bo Huang, Hsiang Fei, Xuejian Li,  Yu Xia and Kun Chen, Fengshen is the most expansive and ambitious project in Chinese movie history with a crew of more than 2,000 and a planned budget of $445 million,

Release Date: 2022

Warriors of Future (Hong Kong)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu warriors of future louis koo, sean lau carina lau tse kwan-ho philip keung nick cheung

Hong Kong films are commonly known for its fast-action, comedy and thriller movies, but now it dives into a new category that has yet to be touched: sci-fi. Warrior of Future, previously known as Virtus, is set in 2055, on a barren Earth ravaged by pollution and global warming. A meteorite crashes down, bringing along with it an alien vine that kills everything in its path, and to save the city, Hong Kong’s military take it on and uncover a conspiracy along the way. Directed by Ng Yuen-fai and starring Louis Koo, Sean Lau, Carina Lau, Tse Kwan-ho, Philip Keung and Nick Cheung, it is a highly anticipated film that is not to be missed.

Release Date: 2022

Table for Six (Hong Kong)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu table for six sunny chan Dayo Wong, Ivana Wong, Stephy Tang, Lin Min Chen, Louis Cheng and Peter CHan

It’s been a while since Hong Kong has seen a good comedy, with Dayo Wong’s latest flick, we’re hoping this is will just change. A family celebration turns into a chaotic nightmare when one brother turns up with his new girlfriend who happens to be the Dayo’s ex-girlfriend. Starring alongside Ivana Wong, Stephy Tang, Lin Min Chen, Louis Cheng and Peter Chan, this laugh-out-loud family fun film centers around the hilarious turn of events as jealousy, tricks and lies come undone.

Release Date: 4 February 2022

Death Notice (Hong Kong)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu death notice louis koo julian cheung francis ng charmaine sheh myolie wu herman yau

If there is one thing the Hong Kong films are known for, it is crime action movies. Death notice, directed by renowned local film director Herman Yau, follows a special task force starring huge names such as Louis Koo, Julian Cheung, Francis Ng, Charmaine Sheh, and Myolie Wu as they chase a serial killer terrorising his victims with death notices. They dig deep to discover hidden secrets and unimaginable conspiracy as they uncover their murderer’s identity. 

Release Date: 31 March 2022

The Outlaws 2 (S.Korean)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu the roundup the outlaws don lee ma dong seok son suk ku

The outlaws are returning! After the success of the hugely popular 2017 action film The Outlaws, Ma Dong-seok returns as his iconic leading role Ma Seok-do in this sequel. Joined by a new villain played by Son Suk-ku, the story follows Dong-seok out of Korean to extradite a suspect. It is then that he comes across a series of murder cases that point to a serial killer who had, for several years, committed crimes against tourists and there is only one determined hero who take him down…

Release Date: 2022

Confidential Assignment 2 (S.Korean)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu confidential assignment 2 hyun bin yoo hai-jin

North Korean detective Im Chul-Ryung (Hyun-Bin) is sent to South Korea on a new mission where he teams up with South Korean detective Kang Jin-Tae (Yu Hae-jin) to capture North Korean crime leader Jang Myung-Joon (Jin Sun-kyu). This is a follow-up to its first  movie released in 2017. A popular flick that gained a huge following, the sequel to the action comedy film is expected to arrive on screen in late 2022.

Release Date: 2022

Pathan (Bollywood)

Most Anticiapted Asian movies to catch in 2022 gafencu pathan Sharukh Khan Deepika Padukone, John Abraham and Dimple Kapadia

After three long years away from the big screen, Bollywood’s favourite King Khan, or Shahrukh Khan returns in a thrilling police drama alongside hunk John Abraham, A-lister Deepika Padukone, and the evergreen Dimple Kapadia. The story centers around a residential complex, formerly home to the wealthy which now houses criminals, a dangerous king pin and a much-feared gangster known to have killed his own father. 

Release Date: 19 November 2022

Also Read: Binge-worthy foreign language shows to watch on Netflix

First Asian superhero in a Marvel movie: Simu Liu as ‘Shang-Chi’

The tide is rising in the Marvel multiverse, and there’s never been a more appropriate time to be a socially progressive fan of the superhero world.

Simu Liu, the 32-year-old Chinese-Canadian newbie actor of Kim’s Convenience fame, is shaking things at the white boys’ club. As the first Asian lead of a Marvel superhero film, he’s on the cusp of becoming the face of diversity, representing a population which isn’t all white, whilst carving out a permanent place for himself amongst Hollywood A-listers.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, due for release on 3 September, showcases a predominantly Asian cast, and pits superhero Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) against the terrorist group, Ten Rings, that was introduced in Iron Man. Social media sensation and Crazy Rich Asians’ actor Awkwafina also stars.
We take a look at Liu’s rocky path to stardom, which mirrors the progress of the times.

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Canada Bound
Born in Harbin in 1989, Liu was raised by his grandparents until the age of five. His parents had migrated to Ontario to complete their education at Queen’s University and “start a better life”. By 1995, they were financially secured for their son to join them, but the two generations of the family were complete strangers. In an open letter to his parents, Liu states, “I was excited to finally meet my real parents and start my life in Canada, but I had no recollection of you.” It was a period of resentment, tough adjustment and culture shock for the youngster. “We fought often… If I tripped on my laces, I was clumsy. If I scored below an A, I was stupid. If I wanted to hang out with my friends, I was wasting my time. I spoke dismissively about you, told you I hated you, and that I couldn’t wait to leave the house. But privately, I yearned for your love and affection.”

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From Accounting to Acting
Like most Asian families, Liu’s highly qualified, aerospace-engineer parents raised him to pursue a career in the sciences. Little did they know destiny had other plans. After graduating from Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School by the skin of his teeth, he got an accounting job with Deloitte in its downtown Toronto office. It was crash and burn from the word go. Liu hated crunching numbers, Deloitte was not a fan, and after nine months, he was laid off. “The first round of cuts, and I was right out,” he recalls.

Ashamed and embarrassed, he considered leaping from the balcony to avoid facing his high-achieving parents. But the thing about hitting rock bottom is that you can only go up. A pink slip motivated him to try something new – performing arts – and he was instantly drawn to the world of acting.

Also Read: Five things you really need to know about Andrew Garfield

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More than a Stunt
Liu’s leading man status has been hard-earned. He started out as a stunt artist; Hollywood expected an Asian man in the industry to know martial arts. As a side gig, he performed stunts at birthday parties for extra cash. Serendipitously, it was a Craigslist ad directed him to his first acting role – an extra “deep, deep in the background” in the 2013 sci-fi film, Pacific Rim.

The aspiring star has always showed drive. Not one to sit back and wait for the ideal role or the perfect opportunity, he grabbed whatever came his way and gave it his all – and that tactic has paid off, big time!

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Plea to Marvel
The struggling actor was “handing out dog-food samples on the side of the road in Toronto” when he put out this 2014 tweet, “Hey @Marvel, great job with Cpt America and Thor. Now how about an Asian-American hero?” Seven years later, he has just become one.
Unbeknownst to him, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, often criticised for its affinity with conventionally handsome white males, was internally rebooting to stay socially and politically relevant in the #MeToo age. It was gearing up to unveil a swathe of diverse superheroes. Shang Chi, with its momentous Asian casting, promises to be one of this year’s marquee blockbuster releases. Simu Liu as a Chinese superhero has not only deepened the conversation around race and representation – the step up is also being seen as a huge leap for Hollywood – one that marks progress over profits and doesn’t reduce diversity to an act of tokenism, a stunt or a sidekick.

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Happy Convenience
Years of toil on the acting fringes paid off in 2016 with a role in critically acclaimed Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience, the show about the day-to-day happenings of a Korean immigrant family. Liu plays one of the central characters, Jung Kim, in this smash hit; it quickly drew an avid following and was one of the most watched comedies on Netflix in 2018. Ironically, the show runs parallel to his own life and immigrant story.

Umma (Jean Yoon) and Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) are mellow, easy-going folk, who gradually begin to see the world beyond the prejudices that surface with each new customer. Much like Liu’s own experiences, the children in the show – Janet and Jung – learn to appreciate their parents’ struggle, live through their idiosyncrasies and find love, care and support in their largely affectionless home. In the end, despite all the ups and downs, everyone pretty much gets along. Similarly, as Liu matured, he came to see the world through his parents’ eyes. His open letter is a tribute to them: “In hindsight, I know that you were doing the best. Money was always tight. And so you worked hard and often. You pushed me as hard as you could so that I would never have to know the struggle of not knowing where my next meal would come from.”

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Familiar Face
With more than 30 film, TV and ad credits to his name, including Fresh Off The Boat, Orphan Black, Slasher and Bad Blood, the actor is increasingly popular on both the big and small screen. But you might recognise him from somewhere else. In 2014, during his dog-food promoting days, Liu did a photoshoot for iStock images for US$120 – a quick cash solution that he, at the time, didn’t realise would be splashed all over the internet – for countless job advertisements, bus posters and even as the cover of accounting books. “That stock photo shoot always finds a way to come back and haunt me. LOL”, he shares with his fans on Instagram.

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Turning Point?
The world in which we grew up could not imagine an Asian as the face of a Marvel movie. Representation matters when you have millions of eyeballs forming an image of what heroes look like. Simu Liu’s starring role sends a powerful message – that in 2021, race, gender and sexual orientation should not come in the way of being a hero. Hopefully, the tide will continue to rise from one studio to another until the day issues of diversity will no longer be magazine stories.

(Text: Nikita Mishra)

Also Read: Think you know all about Colin Firth? It could be you’ve got him all wrong…

5 Binge Worthy Netflix Shows That Will Make You Smarter

As the city faces another interruption to routine and productivity, many of us have become home-bound to our screens and itching for some mental stimulation. Since sifting through new shows can be overwhelming, we’ve compiled a list of 5 binge-worthy Netflix series that will make you smarter while still providing hours of entertainment. 

5 binge worthy netflix shows that will make you smarter_suitsSuits

Genre: Legal Drama

Witty and sophisticated, Suits follows college dropout, Mike Ross who accidentally lands himself a position at a New York law firm under charming and reputable corporate attorney, Harvey Specter.

5 binge worthy netflix shows that will make you smarter_100 humans100 Humans

Genre: Reality, Psychology, Comedy

100 Humans is a social experiment with snarky commentaries and scientific explanations that will make you laugh-out-loud and pick up new information on fascinating topics like happiness, motivation and sex.

5 binge worthy netflix shows that will make you smarter_blacksailsBlack Sails

Genre: Historical-Fiction, Adventure, Pirate

The show dives into pirate lore and the adventures of notorious and feared Captain Flint and his crew during The Golden Age of Piracy on an island of lawlessness.

5 binge worthy netflix shows that will make you smarter_atypicalAtypical

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family 

Inspiring lessons on empathy, the story revolves around 18-year-old Sam Gardner as he navigates through high school, college applications and dating as a teenager with high functioning autism. 

5 binge worthy netflix shows that will make you smarter_money heistMoney Heist (La Casa de Papel)

Genre: Foreign, Crime-Drama, Suspense

This Spanish crime drama will keep you on your feet crying out, “Dios Mio!” as you follow plots of The Professor and his band of misfits in an attempt to rob £2.4 billion from the Royal Mint of Spain. 


Reel Deal: Movies releasing in March in Hong Kong

If you want to take a break from the current situation in Hong Kong, there’s no better way to while away a couple of hours and taking in the latest big-screen outings. Be it the much-awaited sequel to A Quiet Place or the live-adaptation release of Mulan, here are the must-watch movies hitting Hong Kong this March.  

March movies releasing

Jexi – 5 March

The film Jexi revolves around the relationship between a socially awkward features writer Phil and an AI robot Jexi on his phone. Initially, the virtual robot acts as a life coach and helps him to overcome his smartphone addiction and make friends in real life. However, when he becomes independent, Jexi, not quite happy with the change, turns into a tech nightmare. Created by the directors who gave us comedic smashes like Hangover and Bad Moms, Jexi looks set to be a darkly humorous hit.

The Call of the Wild – 5 March

Based on the 1903 novel by the same title, The Call of the Wild follows the journey a man takes with a dog named Buck. From a pet dog in a home in California to becoming a sled dog in the wilds of Alaska, Buck has his own background story that makes him unique and lovable. Described as ‘an adventure of a lifetime’, love and comraderie lie at the heart of this movie.

Like a Boss – 5 March

Two best friends and business partners – Mia and Mel – think they are living a successful life running their beauty company until they are hit with the hard reality – their debt. That is where the cosmetic industry expert Claire Luna (Selma Hayek) comes in to help. However, she ends up sabotaging their business by taking advantage of their ideas and hard work. Filled with laughter and a star-studded cast – Billy Porter, Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and more, Like a Boss is pure entertainment.

A Quiet Place Part II – 19 March

When A Quiet Place ended, the Abbott family finally found a solution to save themselves from the monsters that was traumatising their lives. With A Quiet Place Part II, it comes to light that those weren’t the only creatures they had to protect themselves from. If you loved the 2018 thriller movie, this upcoming sequel is sure to interest you, just get ready for a scary good time.

Mulan – 26 March

It was a classic Chinese tale, then it was a smash animated hit, now Mulan has gotten a Disney live-adaptation makeover and, after much hype, is about to hit Hong Kong. Follow the titular character of Mulan as she disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in the imperial army as they head towards a face-off with the invading Huns. Is it as good as the beloved 1998 original? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Heir to the Clown

When the late, great Heath Ledger breathed life into the Joker, Gotham City’s most sinister villain, just over a decade ago, his depiction of the “agent of chaos” earned him universal acclaim and a posthumous Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. It also set the benchmark by which every subsequent iteration of the comedian-turned-master criminal would be measured. With those very big clown shoes needing be filled, it fell upon Joaquin Phoenix to take on Ledger’s legacy, while also facing the challenge of humanising the homicidal, ever-smiling sociopath.

Joaquin Phoenix

When Puerto Rico-born Phoenix was first sounded about the role, he was understandably reluctant to sport the rictus grin, largely on account of Ledger’s performance being widely regarded as definitive. He was also a little deterred by the character’s grotesque comic book back-story, worrying that it lacked any real-life resonance.

Despite such concerns, Joker director to be, Todd Phillips, convinced him to don the mantle, reassuring the actor that his take on the character had been created with him specifically in mind. Ultimately, Phoenix – a 30-year stage and screen veteran – became convinced it was the right thing to do as he immersed himself in the role, even to the point where he suggested the possibility of a second cinematic outing for the character in the second or third week of shooting.

Recalling this, he says: “Very early on, I was like: ‘Todd, can you start working on a sequel? There’s way too much to explore.’ While it was kind of largely in jest, it wasn’t wholly so.”

Joaquin Phoenix

Indeed, a sequel may now be just what Warner Brothers – the studio behind the movie – is now hoping for, given that the film took more than US$1.1 billion after opening to an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. It’s only the 44th movie ever to achieve a nine figure gross, while also being the biggest hit of Phoenix’s career.

Beyond its box office success, Phoenix’s performance as the damaged clown also sparked wide debate about both mental health and the roots of societal violence. Assessing the wider impact of the movie, the actor says: “It’s not the box office receipts, but the reception that’s been truly vindicating. I now get emails from people telling me that it made them look at their schizophrenic sister in a different way. Ultimately, the movie is about the power of kindness and the lack of empathy in the world, and the audience seems to have picked up on that.”

It is also fair to say that audiences worldwide have also picked up on just how compelling Phoenix can be on screen. Though his career stretches back some three decades, he has never been viewed as high in the Hollywood pantheon of all-time greats. Despite never being a darling of the media, though, he has actually appeared in some of the most critically acclaimed films of recent years, with his contribution frequently being viewed as crucial.

Something of a child protégé in acting terms, he and his four siblings were ‘discovered’ by Iris Burton, one of Hollywood’s leading agents. With his talents soon apparent to casting directors, he swiftly graduated to supporting roles, most notably in To Die For (1995), a Nicole Kidman vehicle where his performance as a lustful teenager proved a true scene-stealer.

Joaquin Phoenix

His big breakthrough, however, came in 2000 when he took on the role of Commodus in Gladiator, Ridley Scott’s Roman epic. His first outing as a Big Bad also earned him his first Oscar nomination (as Best Supporting Actor). Since then, he has been nominated for two further Oscars – one for playing musician Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005) and one for his role as war veteran Freddie Quell in The Master (2012). So far, none of his nominations have converted into actual wins, but this may well change with his bravado performance as the Joker seen as sure to secure him the Best Actor award later this year.

His unusual film choices to date, however, can be better understood through the filter of his equally unconventional life. Born Joaquin Rafael Bottom in Puerto Rica in October 1974, his parents – John Lee and Arlyn – were American citizens and members of the Children of God, a controversial California-based extremist Christian cult. Ultimately rejecting the cult’s teachings, the family relocated to Los Angeles, where they reinvented themselves under a new surname – Phoenix, the bird that, in classical Greek mythology, rose from its own ashes.

Joaquin Phoenix

With his mother working as a secretary for NBC, one of the biggest TV networks in the US, it wasn’t long before the junior members of the Phoenix family found themselves competing in a series of televised talent contests. It was then that young Joaquin adopted the stage name Leaf Phoenix, which he continued to be credited under until he was 15 and reverted to his true name.

In addition to his penchant for alternative names, he has also been widely seen as favouring an alternative lifestyle. A vegan from the age of three, he has also been an almost lifelong supporter of PETA, the anti-animal cruelty charity. Well before such concerns went mainstream, he was at the very forefront of the movement, frequently using his fame to raise awareness of such evils as dog leather and the poor treatment of circus animals.

Announcing him as PETA Person of the Year for 2019, Ingrid Newkirk, the organisation’s president, paid tribute to the actor, saying: “Joaquin Phoenix never misses an opportunity to turn the spotlight away from himself and onto the plight of animals, while setting a great example by truly walking the vegan walk.”

Joaquin Phoenix

Clearly a performer bold enough to make unconventional career moves, he once went public with his determination to quit Tinseltown in favour of making it big in hip-hop. That, however, ultimately proved to be a role he was playing in I’m Still Here, a 2010 ‘mockumentary’ that purported to chronicle the actor’s spoof sabbatical, right from the announcement of his ‘retirement’ to his debut before a clearly bemused audience of hardcore hip-hop fans.

While the film got a decidedly mixed reactions, it also kept many guessing as to just which elements of it were heartfelt and which were merely scripted provocation. In many ways, it’s this very ambiguity that lies at the core of Phoenix’s best performances, with the will there / won’t there be a Joker 2 just the latest manifestation of his ability to ensure audiences never quite know what is coming next.

Reel Deal: February’s cinematic releases

Despite Hong Kong having more than its fair share of off-screen drama at present, there’s still some movie entertainment that’s well worth seeking out…

February cinematic releases

A Beautiful Day in The Neighbourhood – 6 February

When a magazine editor is asked to write a profile on a children’s TV personality – Fred Rogers -it’s assignment he takes on with little enthusiasm. However, during the course of the interview, the initially cynical journalist learns about kindness and affection. Based on the real-life friendship between Mr.Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, A Beautiful Day in The Neighbourhood provides a much-needed lesson in the current climate –  the fact that trust sometimes trumps scepticism.

Birds of Prey – 6 February

Harley Quinn tells the twisted and complicated tale of three superheroes – Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya –  teaming up to protect a young girl from three villains – Roman Sionis and Zsasz. With Harley Quinn taking the lead role, the Joker – he long term beau – is nowhere to be seen. A definite entertainment for all the DC comic fans out there.

Fantasy Island – 13 February

More horror and more modern is one way to describe this film version of the television series Fantasy Island. Similar to the ABC series, Mr. Roarke, an amiable  host, invites guests to live out their fantasies on an island where nothing turns out quite the way they expect…

Sonic The Hedgehog – 20 February

Inspired by a video game of the same name,  this action-packed comedy sees the world’s fastest hedgehog teaming up with sheriff Tom Wachowski to defeat Dr. Robotnik, an evil genius determined to take over the world. This movie is sure to entertain children and adults alike…

The Turning – 27 February

Set in an eerie gothic estate, this contemporary adaptation of The Turning of the Screw details the sinister events that befall Kate once she is hired to work as a nanny for two-disturbed-children – Flora and Miles – who are the guardians of a number of dark secrets. Not for the faint hearted….

Reel Deal: January movies hitting silver screens in Hong Kong

As 2020 opens, there are countless big screen outings to tempt any film aficionados into visiting theatres this January.. From the much critiqued Jojo Rabbit to the much awaited sequel to the Bad Boys film series or the new versions of movies that have already hit the big screens earlier, here is a line up of movies that you can look forward to for January 2020.


Little Women – 9 January

Based on a novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is a bildungsroman that follows the lives of four sisters ‒ Amy, Jo, Beth and Meg. This period film shows the way the aftermath of the American Civil War impacts the March sisters and emphasises on their love and support for each other despite their contrasting opinions. Although, the drama is set in the past, each sister is very relatable, making it a timeless classic that will interest most audience.

Bad Boys for Life – 16 January

For fans of the Bad Boys film series, the franchise is back with its much anticipated new sequel to the series. After Bad Boys II that came out in 2003, it has been a wait for more than a decade. Similar to the previous Bad Boys movies, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are cops. They investigate a drug cartel in Miami. This action packed comedy definitely has all the fun you would expect in a movie.

The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle – 23 January

This animated fantasy movie follows the life of Doctor Dolittle, a man with the unique ability to communicate with animals. Played by Robert Downey Jr, Doctor Dolittle lives a secluded life with just animals as his friends. When Queen Victoria falls ill, he and his friends have to embark on an adventure to find the medicine. Accompanied by a vibrant soundtrack, this latest version of Doctor Dolittle promises entertainment from beginning to end. 

The Grudge – 23 January

For any horror film enthusiast, the upcoming movie, The Grudge may already be in their ‘must watch’ list. When Detective Muldoon works on a murder case, she realises that the house where it took place is now haunted by a vengeful ghost. This spooky thriller unfolds the story of how she saves herself and others from the spirit after it follows her to her home. Get ready to scream and maybe even skip a heartbeat or two as you watch this psychological thriller.

Jojo Rabbit – 30 January

To say Hitler and comedy are oxymorons would be a statement that most people would agree to. However, that is not the case with Taiki Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. Set in Nazi Germany, the movie follows the story of Jojo, a young boy in Hitler’s army who discovers that his mom is hiding a Jewish girl in their house. What makes the plot more interesting is that, Jojo’s imaginary friend is a comical version of Hitler. This “anti-hate satire” is a perfect mix of both comedy and tragedy.