Header images courtesy of Colleen E. Hayes (via Paper Kite Productions)
Now that our Chinese New Year dinners, visits, and family activities are over, we can’t wait to hang up our auspicious red outfits and settle down for a good ol’ binge-watch. This March, Netflix continues to deliver on its winning “something for everyone” formula with a mix of true crime documentaries, quirky anthology shows, and empowering comedy-dramas. Paul Hsiao, chart maker and film enthusiast at Movieconomist, lists his most-anticipated releases arriving on Netflix Hong Kong this February.
Based on the book of the same name by a Hong Kong writer known only as “Mr Pizza,” this genre-bending mini-series stars Wilfred Lau, Terrence Siufay, Eric Not, and Hanna Chan. The anthology series features 10 bite-sized episodes, each of which takes on a different uniquely Hong Kong story with a zany-yet-sharp sense of humour—like the mobsters who have to pause their plans to throw someone off a roof while their boss takes a call about his son’s chances of getting into a good school.
Like this? Consider Love in a Puff, about two Hong Kong citizens who meet-cute while avoiding an indoor smoking ban.
Larger-than-life rapper Biggie Smalls a.k.a the Notorious B.I.G. gets the Netflix treatment with a documentary produced by fellow rapper Sean Combs (a.k.a. Puff Daddy) and Biggie’s own mother, Voletta Wallace. The documentary promises never-before-seen footage and hopes to shed light on the rapper’s mysterious murder, nearly 24 years after his death. (Contrary to what Biggie said, we gotta know.)
Like this? Consider The Defiant Ones, a more upbeat documentary that follows the rise of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Netflix’s latest crime docuseries, Murder Among the Mormons—aside from the fact that it’s basically real-life Witness—is that it’s a blissfully tight three episodes depicting the 1985 bombings in Salt Lake City and the consequent scandal surrounding the discovery of forged Mormon artefacts and documents. Available 3 March
Like this? Check out Wild, Wild Country—the insane story behind a cult that settled in Wasco County, Oregon in the 1960s.
Based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu, Amy Poehler directs and stars in a “coming-of-rage” comedy-drama about a young woman (not Poehler) who adopts the rebellious spirit of her mother (yes, that’s Poehler’s character) when confronted with casual sexism at her high school. Available 3 March
Like this? For a more dramatic take on the mother-daughter premise, consider Lady Bird starring Saoirse Ronan and hair god Timothée Chalamet.
Can’t wait for Godzilla vs. Kong? Netflix has got your back with another bombastic kaiju (怪獣; monster) film. Set in the same world as the 2013 Guillermo del Toro blockbuster, where humans have created giant mechanised robots to battle even bigger monsters, Pacific Rim: The Black focuses on fleshing out the backstory behind every five-year-old’s action figure brawl. Set in a ravaged dystopian Australia, the spin-off follows two new heroes, a brother and sister pair that pilot a monster-killing Jaeger while searching for their missing parents. Available 4 March
Like this? Check out Neon Genesis Evangelion, a ground-breaking Japanese anime that laid the groundwork for modern kaiju movies.
In three words, this film can be summed up with “French John Wick.” In more words, a highly trained French soldier (the underrated Olga Kurylenko) returns home after a traumatic mission and uses her special skills to seek vengeance against the man who brutally assaulted her sister. Expect Russian oligarchs, explosive action scenes, and grim dialogue set against the French Riviera. Available 5 March
Like this? I suppose I ruined my suggestion in the first line, but John Wick is quite good. For more action in urban environments, consider Extraction starring the God Of Thunder himself, Chris Hemsworth. Of course, you can’t forget the other female-led vengeance film du jour, Promising Young Woman.
From the filmmakers who brought us Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened comes a documentary about the real-life college admissions bribery scandal from 2019. Operation Varsity Blues—which takes its name from the investigation’s FBI codename—features a combination of interviews and recreations of the FBI’s wiretap recordings of real conversations between mastermind Rick Singer and the wealthy parents, including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, who (allegedly) conspired, bribed, and faked documents to get their children into elite universities. Available 17 March
Like this? Consider Cheer, a behind the scenes look into the competitive world of cheerleading.
From the creators of the controversial vegan documentary What the Health comes Seaspiracy, a deep-dive into the commercial fishing industry. Promising to bring to the surface a “war on the ocean” by governments and corporations, Seaspiracy also covers how overfishing affects climate change, biodiversity, and pollution. Available 24 March
Like this? Consider Cowspiracy by Kip Anderson, the same executive producer as Seaspiracy.
Putting a supernatural spin on the Baker Street Irregulars—street urchins who helped Sherlock Holmes gather intelligence—crime drama The Irregulars features a diverse set of young ruffians that band together to help solve supernatural crimes with Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson in nineteenth-century London. Available 26 March
Like this? Consider Umbrella Academy, a steampunk-inspired ensemble TV series starring Elliot Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, and Aiden Gallagher.
This spin-off of the hit US show of the same name swaps the streets of Los Angeles for Barcelona and American illusionist Justin Willman for Spanish counterpart Mago Pop. Featuring transformations, swaps, and disappearing acts that have to be seen to be believed, this is a light, feel-good show that’s suitable for the whole family. Have a peep at the US version of Magic for Humans in the trailer above to get a sense of what to expect. Available 26 March
Like this? Consider visiting your local bartender who has a unique ability to make your hard-earned dollars… disappear. (Or, you know, the original American show.)
Do you miss going to Japan and eating Japanese food? I sure do. Until my next visit, Izakaya Bottakuri, a television series about two sisters who warmly invite various patrons to their bar inherited by their parents, will have to tide me over. Based on a long-running manga series by Akikawa Takimi, expect wholesome stories with a side of mouth-watering foods that will have you reaching for your food delivery app and ordering Japanese for your next meal. Available 1 February
Like this? Consider Midnight Diaries: Tokyo Stories, a series of vignettes about everyday Tokyo life.
In the newest season of her acclaimed series, comedian Tiffany Haddish presents six up-and-coming and veteran comics as they deliver much-needed laughs to the Netflix audience, counting amongst them the likes of Dean Edwards (Saturday Night Live), Kimberly Clark (Last Comic Standing), and Barbara Carlyle (Def Jam Comedy 25).
Not to be confused by the children’s book of the same name Netflix’s All My Friends Are Dead is a surreal Polish film about the strange circumstances surrounding a group of friends during a New Year’s Eve Party. Part comedy and part slasher movie, All My Friends Are Dead is a reminder of what life was like back when people hung out in groups larger than two.
Like this? Consider Game Night, starring Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman as a boardgame-obsessed couple who find their game night interrupted and themselves caught in a real-life crime mystery.
John David Washington—also known as the son of Denzel Washington and the protagonist in last year’s Tenet—and superstar Zendaya headline a black and white drama about a couple that is struggling to keep their relationship alive amidst professional and artistic struggles. Perhaps the anti-Valentine’s Day date movie this year? Like many incoming movies, Malcolm & Marie was shot and produced during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing artists to stretch their creativity in a difficult time.
Like this? Consider If Beale Street Could Talk, a sweepingly beautiful romance based on the James Baldwin novel.
In ancient China, two warriors, one clothed in white and the other in black, must learn advanced magic to protect their kingdom from supernatural demons in a CGI-infused fantasy film. It definitely skews on the cheesy side, but maybe that’s just what we need to keep ourselves entertained as lockdown will likely be extended through Chinese New Year.
Like this? Consider Kung Fu Hustle, a sublime Cantonese comedy starring Stephen Chow.
In modern Taiwan, a long-lost patriarch’s passing unravels old family secrets, including the fact that he was accompanied by another woman on his deathbed. Drama ensues, turning a birthday celebration into a wake and the beginning of an emotional struggle between wives, mothers, and daughters. Little Big Women won several Golden Horse Awards, the Taiwanese version of the Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress and Best New Director.
Like this? Consider Tigertail, an intergenerational drama about a young man’s decision to emigrate from Taiwan to the US.
Regarded as South Korea’s first space blockbuster, Space Sweepers follows a ragtag group of misfits as they discover a weapon of mass destruction that is in the form of a small child.
Like this? Consider Firefly, a Joss Whedon-directed sci-fi show that combines Indiana Jones with Star Trek.
What happened to Elisa Lam? This bone-chilling question has haunted investigators since 2013, when university student Lam vanished while staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. A media frenzy followed, unravelling the dark and complex history of the Cecil Hotel itself. A must-watch for true crime and mystery fans.
Like this? Consider any one of these true crime shows and documentaries on Netflix Hong Kong.
Netflix’s To All the Boys I Loved Before was a pleasant surprise—a light and extremely well-shot take on teenage romance between Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky. Its sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, however, was an uninspired take that made the original film worse by undercutting the central relationship. So, I have somewhat high hopes for the three-quel, Always and Forever, to close out the series on a high note as Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky also struggle to keep their relationship alive when faced by their biggest challenge yet: university applications.
Like this? Consider Master of None as a more adult take on the highs and lows of contemporary romance.
Nadiya Hussain, sweetheart of British television and winner of The Great British Bake-Off, continues her runaway success on BBC with Nadiya Bakes, where she crafts beautiful cakes and heavenly pastries. Her bubbly narration and infectious energy are perfect for those seeking weekend therapy and want to get excited about their next baking adventure.
Did you know that in parts of the United States, courts can appoint a legal guardian for the elderly who can take control of their entire lives, how they spend their money, and where they live? Starring Rosamund Pike as a grifter who takes advantage of this system, I Care A Lot is a dark comedy highlighting the underbelly of the legal system.
Like this? Consider Gone Girl, a David Fincher-directed thriller also starring the inimitable Rosamund Pike.
Just like the (in)famous orange and green costume, Aquaman is a go-for-broke genre mishmash that shouldn’t work—but does. Starring Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo himself), Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, and up-and-coming actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, Aquaman is silly fun now made accessible to those without HBO Max.
Like this? Consider The Meg, another underwater adventure starring Jason Statham and a very big shark.