The Brothers Sun

Michelle Yeoh can’t miss these days. From Shang-Chi, American Born Chinese, and her award-winning role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, to voicing characters on The Minions and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Yeoh has certainly taken advantage of her opportunities.

This stretch now includes her recent turn on the Netflix series, The Brothers Sun. Yeoh plays Eileen “Mama” Sun—an immigrant single-mom, raising her son, Bruce (Sam Song Li) in San Gabriel—a quaint Southern California suburb of Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to Bruce, Mama Sun is not a single mother, and he discovers that his estranged brother and father run the most powerful crime syndicate in Taipei. When struggles with their rivals spill out into mainland America, Bruce discovers his hidden family after his brother Charles (Justin Chien) viciously dispatches an assassin in the Sun family’s kitchen. (Though there are aspects of gruesome violence in The Brothers Sun, it’s not vulgar and the show keeps its lighthearted tempo and aesthetics.)

At its core, the show retells a very popular trope with an Asian American twist. The Brothers Sun captures the struggle between family loyalty and personal liberty. Both brothers struggle with their identities as they navigate how to be loyal to the expectations of their parents—who want them to either be a doctor or the head of a ruthless murdering, racketeering enterprise (you know, classic aspirations of Asian immigrant parents)—or follow the dreams and the desires of their own hearts.

However much the show tries to make it about the brothers Sun, Michelle Yeoh steals the spotlight. Every scene she’s in, every dialogue she engages with, Mama Sun is the clear head honcho in the room. In a patriarchal society—both fictional and actual—Yeoh continues to rewrite the narrative for Asian Americans in Hollywood. As far as star power goes, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say she’s Hollywood’s brightest Sun in 2024. (Rated TV-MA for violence and strong language. For 18 and up.)

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