The Malaysian cinematic landscape has seen great talent over the decades who have transcended borders, language, and genres. Prominent icons like P. Ramlee, Saloma, and Kasma Booty, who was dubbed as “Elizabeth Taylor of Malaysia”, have paved the way for many of today’s diverse storytellers who are working their magic both in front of and behind the camera. This Malaysia Day, join us as we celebrate some of nation’s most impressive trailblazers on Netflix!
1) Michelle Yeoh
Kicking off the list is none other than the legendary Michelle Yeoh. The international powerhouse has done it all — Hong Kong action star, Bond Girl, stuntwoman, beauty queen — and even starred in one of the highest-grossing foreign-language films in American history, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The actress has moved beyond Malaysia to the furthest depths of space and time in Star Trek: Discovery, helmed the role of tiger mum Eleanor Young in box-office-breaking Crazy Rich Asians, and even lent her voice to mythical goat Soothsayer in Kung Fu Panda 2. Yeoh is also set to star in the upcoming six-part, live action limited series The Witcher: Blood Origin as sword-elf Scían.
You can find this superwoman in 11 films and series that are currently on Netflix:
- Crazy Rich Asians
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
- Kung Fu Panda 2
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Mechanic: Resurrection
- Police Story 3: Super Cop
2) Nam Ron
Shahili Abdan, or better known as Nam Ron, is an industry veteran with a hand in acting, screenwriting, and directing. Nam Ron has played a diverse slate of roles in every genre you can think of – a school groundskeeper in Suatu Ketika, a hunter in the wilderness plagued by spirits in Roh, a pious man tortured by hypocrites in Munafik 2, a Lieutenant Commander in the Malaysian Special Forces in PASKAL, a hotel manager in Pasal Kau, and a fight club owner in Bunohan.
The Perlis native has also starred in and directed Crossroads: One Two Jaga, a tale of immigration, corruption, and crime on the streets of Kuala Lumpur where there are no winners. The film has bagged six awards, including ‘Best Film’, at the 30th Malaysia Film Festival in 2019, and also won two out of five nominations at the 2019 ASEAN International Film Festival And Awards.
You can find him in 13 Malaysian movies currently showing on Netflix:
- Crossroads: One Two Jaga
- Dendam Pontianak
- Munafik 2
- Pasal Kau
- Suatu Ketika
- Till Death: Azalea’s Wrath
- Usop Wilcha Menghonjang Makhluk Muzium
- 29 Februari
3) Kabir Bhatia
The visionary Kabir Bhatia is elevating the Malaysian film industry one masterpiece at a time. The multi-talented director, scriptwriter, and producer has several award-winning blockbusters under his belt including mixed martial arts spectacle Sangkar and Pulang, a film inspired by the true story of former Primeworks CEO Ahmad Izham Omar, whose own grandfather had left the kampung to become a deckhand on a cargo ship in the 1950’s.
Bhatia started from humble beginnings as a television drama director before 2004’s Cinta, which became his stepping stone from TV to film. The film, which has won multiple awards including ‘Best Film’ at the 20th Malaysian Film Festival, features five interwoven stories, couples, and families in Kuala Lumpur navigating the complexities of love in all its forms.
Keep up with Kabir Bhatia’s films on Netflix:
4) Henry Golding
This handsome Sarawakian-British snack has come a long way since his travel hosting days as he transforms into one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood after his breakout role in Crazy Rich Asians as the ever-dashing Nick Young. He has since graced our screens in the romcom Last Christmas alongside the Mother of Dragons, Emilia Clarke, and showed us his sinister side in A Simple Favour. He has also become a superhero in his own right, starring alongside Money Heist’s cili padi Ursula Corbero in the G.I. Joe spin-off, Snake Eyes.
Golding is going for the gold as he’s also due to star alongside Dakota Johnson in the upcoming adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion on Netflix.
This is where you can find Henry Golding on Netflix:
5) Ronny Chieng
Comedian and actor Ronny Chieng has also made his mark in Hollywood with his involvement in Crazy Rich Asians. Aside from being a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, the funny man also details his American experience in his own Netflix special Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America.
Growing up with Anime being a big part of his childhood came in handy when he worked with Rio Sato, Creative Dubbing Supervisor at Netflix, on the dubbing of the Chinese animated series Scissor Seven where he provided more accurate translations and captured the humour of the series with his bilingual abilities.
Chieng is only getting started on his Netflix journey as he is due to star in two upcoming stand-up-specials and a semi-scripted road trip comedy special where he will explore America’s Chinatowns with fellow comedian David Fung of The Fung Brothers.
Here’s where you can find Ronny Chieng on Netflix:
6) Yasmin Ahmad
Award-winning filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad’s legacy lives on in her films and commercials that shine a light on important social issues while crossing cross-cultural barriers through her work. Her iconic film Sepet has won the Best Asian Film Award at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival and the Le Grand Prix du Jury at the 27th Créteil International Women’s Film Festival. It also garnered 10 nominations and seven wins at the 18th Malaysia Film Festival.
Find some of her most acclaimed films on Netflix:
Rediscover some of your favourite Malaysian films and series in the Rekaan Rakyat collection, only on Netflix.