6 Best Taiwanese Films to Watch on Netflix During Quarantine

6 Best Taiwanese Films to Watch on Netflix During Quarantine
Photo Credit: A Really Happy Film
What you need to know

Here are our staff picks for the best Taiwanese movies available on Netflix.

With most people around the world in quarantine or social isolation, finding good movies on Netflix is all the more important. If you’re interested in learning more about Taiwanese culture and want to go beyond Tigertail, here are some of the best Taiwanese movies you can watch on Netflix.

The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful (2017)
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Photo Credit: Vie Vision Pictures
The most frightening thing on earth is not the punishment in front of our eyes, but a future without love.

Yang Ya-che’s The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful, a 2017 Golden Horse winner, seems like a typical Taiwanese gangster drama film at first glance, but it unfolds multiple layers of metaphors and secrets. Different from the typically masculine crime thrillers, The Bold centers around the struggle for dominance between three women in a powerful family. A tale of greed and corruption, coupled with references to the dark side of Taiwanese politics, makes for a seductive film that leaves many viewers pondering the clues they may have missed.


The Great Buddha+ (2017)
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Photo Credit: Applause Entertainment
What can people do with that much money? We only eat three meals a day anyway.

Huang Hsin-yao’s feature debut, The Great Buddha+, is a dark comedy that won top prize at the 19th Taipei Film Festival. Although the film lost the Golden Horse best picture to The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful, it received critical praise and was selected as Taiwan’s entry for the Academy Awards in 2017.

Two middle-aged men living at the fringes of society, Pickle and Belly Button, discover a shared hobby of watching the dashcam records from Pickle’s mean boss, Kevin. The two are entertained by Kevin’s lustful lifestyle until they uncover a darker secret.

Previously a documentary filmmaker, Huang shot The Great Buddha+ in black and white while leaving the dashcam footage in color. Taiwanese drivers, even motorcyclists, almost always install dashcams in their vehicles to record on-road footage in case of accidents. Ironically, these dashcams also leave individual privacy completely exposed.


A Sun (2019)
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Photo Credit: CNA
The sun is the fairest of all in this world. Regardless of the latitude, each place can see both daylight and darkness. The blazing sun, however, is not that easy to embrace — you’ll notice everyone is hiding under the shadow.

Golden Horse best picture winner, A Sun, tells a melancholic story of a fractured family whose two sons take completely different directions in life. In his fifth feature, Taiwanese writer-director Chung Mong-hong meditates on a running theme from his previous work: life’s uncertainties. In two and a half hours, Chung depicts a complicated family dynamic that speaks to audiences in Taiwan — or anyone who can relate to the tensions imposed by parental expectations.


Dear Ex (2018)
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Photo Credit: CNA
Do you know how long 10,000 years is?

When the person you love tells you that he wants to live a normal life and leaves you, every day after that is 10,000 years.

Dear Ex explores an unusual modern family story between an odd trio: a teenage boy Song Cheng-xi, his overly dramatic mother Liu San-lian, and his late father’s gay lover Ah Jie ( who they called ‘mistress’).

Throughout the story, Cheng-xi removes himself from the drama to observe his mom’s excessive anger and Ah Jie’s nonchalant manner. He follows Ah Jie around, trying to figure out whether Ah Jie seduced his father for insurance money or in fact loved him. The teenage boy’s quiet observations are weaved in with Ah Jie’s memories, revealing the answer to the film’s original Chinese title — who was the first to fall in love with him?


A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
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Photo Credit: Agent Movie
What don’t you understand? The world won’t change for you. And I, like this world, won’t change for you either.

Literally translated as “The Youth Homicide Incident on Guling Street,” A Brighter Summer Day is a must-watch Edward Yang classic for anyone who wishes to learn about New Taiwanese Cinema. This four-hour epic is based on a true story of a teenager who murdered his girlfriend in 1961 in Taipei. Yang placed the violent incident in a political context, mirroring the identity crisis and restlessness felt by the youth during Taiwan’s martial law period.


Yi Yi: A One and a Two (2000)
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Photo Credit: Netflix
The invention of cinema stretches our life's length by three times, because we’ve learned at least twice the life experience from it.

Edward Yang won the Best Director Award for Yi Yi at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, and this masterpiece is often named as one of the greatest films of the 21st century by international critics.

In a behind-the-scenes documentary, Yang admitted that Yi Yi seemed less angry and more tender than his previous works because he found a kind of inner peace. “Can we live our life again?” — that was a question Yang often asked himself during the filming of Yi Yi — and the characters in the film might have answered it for him: “It’s unnecessary.”

Yang’s final feature is almost like a blueprint for human life, inviting viewers to contemplate life’s possibilities through the story of a middle-class family in Taipei. Unlike any coming-of-age story, Yi Yi takes a break from the three-act structure and instead portrays parallel growth and changes in each character of different ages. The film begins with a wedding and ends with a funeral, framing a story of the struggle between life and death.

Note: A Brighter Summer Day and Yi Yi are available on Netflix only with Chinese subtitles. Alternatively, Criterion offers both films with English subtitles for viewers in the United States.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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