With how much influence radical Liberalism has in the mainstream media, it’s very difficult to find movies and TV shows with strong Asian lead characters. Even though Asians are the most underrepresented minority, many liberals don’t care because according to them, Asians are guilty of being “privileged”. But even with that prejudice, Asians have still beaten the odds and proven that the Asian communities don’t need anyone’s approval to be successful. Even without good representation in the media, Asian actors and actresses have still managed to get breakthrough roles in movies and TV shows.
Note: Some of these films have Eurasian actors and actresses.
1. Go for Broke (1951)
One of the first movies that had a large Asian cast. And many of the actors where veterans of the famed 442nd RCT, an all Japanese-American unit during WWII, since the movie was centered around this famous unit.
2. Way of the Dragon (1972)
A martial arts film starring Bruce Lee. His character famously faces off Chuck Norris’s character in this film. It was one of Bruce lee’s more popular films.
3. The Karate Kid franchise (1984-2008?)
A film series with a web series spinoff about a Japanese Karate master mentoring a bullied adolescent in martial arts, so adolescent can stand up to the bullies. It plays into the “wise old Asian martial arts master” trope but is still considered by many to be one of the most influential martial arts film franchises in cinema history.
4. The Crying Freeman (1995)
A martial arts action film based on a Japanese Manga. It stars Mark Dacascos as the protagonist, an assassin who sheds tears whenever he makes a kill.
5. The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003)
A trio of sci-fi films set in a post apocalyptic/virtual reality world. The protagonist of the film is played by Eurasian Actor Keanu Reeves.
6. Mulan (1998, 2004, 2020)
A film franchise about a Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man to enlist in the Chinese Military to fight the Huns.
7. War (2007)
A action movie about a fbi Agent player by Jason Statham and an Assassin played by Jet Li. As the story progresses it becomes clear that it is much more than a simple “cops and baddies” film.
8. Maze Runner (2014-2018)
A sci fi action film trilogy about a group of young adults who must overcome several dangerous obstacles in order to overthrow the regime that has wronged them. Among the main characters is a strong non stereotypical Asian character named Minho.
9. Agents of Shield (2013-present)
An MCU tv show about a fictional super spy organization that deals with hostile unnatural forces. It stars a rather diverse cast including a tough Asian woman and a Eurasian woman.
10. Man in the High castle (2015-2019)
An alternate history Web series depicting a world where the axis powers won WWII and took over the world. It features a large Asian cast to portray several Japanese characters.
11. Into The badlands (2015-2019)
A TV show set in a post apocalyptic world. The series follows a young warrior played by Daniel Wu. It’s very rare for Asian actors to get the main role in TV shows and movies. This is a TV show where an Asian actor gets the main role.
12. Persona Non Grata (2015)
A movie about Chiune Sugihara, A Japanese ambassador Lithuania that saved several Thousand Jews by providing refuge for them in Japan.
13. Kung Fun Panda franchise (2008-2016)
An animated film franchise that takes place in China but instead of people, there are talking animals. Some of the actors and actresses doing the voice acting are Asian.
14. The Foreigner (2017)
An action movie about a vengeful father hunting those responsible for his daughter’s death. The protagonist is played by Jackie Chan and the film has very realistic fight scenes.
15. Mayhem (2017)
An action comedy movie about an Asian Office worker who gets quarantined in a building after a toxic gas gets leaked in the building causing the denizens to go berserk. The movie shows a non stereotypical strong Asian character and his Caucasian love interest fighting for survival. The fight scenes are realistic as well.
16. Iron Fist (2017)
A martial arts web series set in the MCU. It follows the story of Daniel Rand, better known as the iron fist. It is full of martial arts fight scenes and fantasy elements. While many people criticized the story, the show did a pretty good job of portraying corruption and abuse in psychiatric hospitals. Speaking of which, I kind of wish Daniel Rand would have beat up all the psychiatric hospital staff members during his escape instead of just shoving an orderly to the ground, it would have been very satisfying. Aside from the martial arts themes, the show also features a very strong Asian female character in the form of Colleen Wing who can definitely stand her ground.
17. Go For Broke (2018)
A movie about the Japanese-American 442nd RCT during WWII. It does a good job of depicting the prejudice that Japanese-Americans had to deal with during WWII.
18. Searching (2018)
A movie about a father who does his own investigation to find his missing daughter who went missing under mysterious circumstances.
19. John Wick (2014-present)
Considered to be the next generation action film, it is one of the most highly rated action film series out there. It features realistic fight scenes, realistic usage of weaponry and tactics. The protagonist is played by Eurasian actor Keanu Reeves.
20. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
We are finally going to get a strong major Asian character in the MCU. While the Moritas and Wong are good additions to the MCU, they only have minor roles in the films. Shang Chi is a very important character who trained both Tony Stark and Captain America in martial arts in the comics. Shang Chi is considered to be the most skilled hand to hand combat specialist in Marvel, he even beat Wolverine in the comics.
Honorable mentions: “My way” “Crazy rich Asians” and “Always be my maybe”.
There a many more films and tv shows out there that cater to Asian audiences but I think these are the most noteworthy.