best foreign movies and tv streaming february 8

(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)

With the Lunar New Year recently passing, it’s fitting that a lot of our picks for the best foreign movies and TV streaming this week are Asian properties. Whether it’s an enthralling zombie series set in medieval Korea, a kooky family comedy mixed with an LGBT romance, or an anthology series showcasing Asian folklore, we’re ringing the Year of the Pig in right. But not everything in this week’s Pop Culture Imports hails from the Asian continent — we also have the Oscar-nominated Alejandro González Iñárritu Spanish drama starring Javier Bardem and the fantastically absurd Asterix & Obelix live-action film featuring Gerard Depardieu in giant balloon pants.

But it’s no question that we lucked out with this week’s selection of foreign movies and TV streaming across digital platforms. So let’s fire up those subtitles and get streaming.

Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now

Kingdom – Netflix

Country: South Korea

Genre: Historical horror-fantasy series

Director: Kim Seong-Hun

Cast: Doona Bae, Greg Chun, Jun-ho Heo, Ji-Hoon Ju.

Game of Thrones meets the Train to Busan in this taut, terrifying Korean historical drama series that puts a new — or rather, old — twist on the zombie genre. Set during the country’s medieval Joseon period, Kingdom combines an epic tale of political intrigue with a gripping zombie thriller that taps into the dark, nihilistic themes of Korean Wave cinema. The six-episode series follows the Crown Prince Yi-Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) as he embarks on a quest to investigate a mysterious undead plague spreading throughout the country. Accompanied by a physician Seo-Bi (Bae Doo-na) who witnesses a supernatural massacre, the enigmatic Yeong-Shin (Kim Sung-gyu), and his personal guard Moo-Young (Kim Sang-ho), the prince attempts to stop the plague while uncovering a sinister political conspiracy surrounding the current emperor. Rife with striking horror imagery and mythic fairy tale elements, Kingdom is a slow-paced atmospheric piece that leaves you with a lingering sense of dread. It’s a patently gorgeous series and Netflix’s best original Korean title yet. And again, it’s zombies! In medieval Korea! What else could you ask for?

Watch This If You Like: Game of ThronesThe Walking Dead, Train to Busan, gorgeously shot zombie dramas that tap into modern-day anxieties about corrupt government institutions. Also zombies in medieval Korea!

Biutiful – HBO Go

Country: Spain

Genre: Drama

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib.

Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s first Spanish language film is a devastating showcase for Javier Bardem, who gives a staggering performance as a career criminal who finds out he has only a few months to live. Biutiful follows Bardem’s Uxbal, a father of two young children living in Barcelona who makes ends meet by exploiting illegal immigrants, negotiating between Chinese workers who make forged designers good and African street vendors who sell them. But his life starts to fall apart soon after his cancer diagnosis, with the police busting his workers and Uxbal’s relationship with his ex-wife going through fits and starts. The quiet desperation is palpable in Iñárritu’s moving examination of mortality and morality, which moves lazily through Uxbal’s downtrodden life as he attempts to get his affairs in order, until it builds to an explosively tragic climax. Much like the film’s title suggests, Biutiful is a gorgeous, melancholy tone poem on the human condition that resonates thanks to Bardem’s well-deserved Oscar nominated performance.

Watch This If You Like50/50Magnolia, Rust and Bone, cancer dramas that don’t emotionally manipulate you.

Dear Ex — Netflix

Country: Taiwan

Genre: Dark comedy-drama

Director: Hsu Chih-yen

Cast: Roy Chiu, Hsieh Ying-hsuan, Chen Ru-shan.

Quirky dark comedy meets touching family drama in Dear Ex, an unusual mishmash of domestic melodrama and LGBT romance. The film follows 13-year-old Chengxi (Joseph Huang), who sullenly observes his mother, Sanlian (Hsieh Ying-hsuan), and his father’s lover Jay (Roy Chiu) as they clash over his late father’s insurance policy, for which all of the money will go to Jay — as soon as Sanlian signs off on it. Chengxi copes with the pair’s hostile encounters with whimsical illustrations of his life, which intertwine seamlessly with the film’s zany tone, and by moving in with Jay, much to the chagrin of both adults. Intrigued by the free-spirited man who wrecked his and his mother’s home life, Chengxi follows Jay as the latter attempts to stage a play in honor of his Chengxi’s father (Spark Chen), who had died of cancer. A shaggy but surprisingly moving film that gradually trades its whimsy for tender portrayals of family dysfunction, Dear Ex is a movie that transcends its rather basic title.

Watch This If You LikeMe and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Edge of Seventeen, Little Miss Sunshine, dysfunction but funny!

Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatre – Hulu

Country: France, Italy

Genre: Fantasy comedy

Director: Alain Chabat

Cast: Christian Clavier, Gérard Depardieu, Jamel Debbouze, Monica Bellucci, Claude Rich, Gérard Darmon, Édouard Baer, Dieudonné, Alain Chabat.

Based on the famous Asterix comic strips, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatre is the gloriously dumb, possibly ingenious second film in the series of live-action Asterix & Obelix films. This is a film that features Gerard Depardieu in  giant parachute pants, makes any excuse to feature Monica Belluci in increasingly revealing and progressively ridiculous outfits, and has a whole musical sequence in which Egyptian workers perform an elaborate dance to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” And it’s awesome. The bonkers absurdist humor of Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatre matches the droll tone of the comic strips upon which they’re based and which are a French pop culture staple. For context: in La Haine, when the characters frequently refer to themselves as Asterix and Obelix, the English translation changes it to Snoopy and Charlie Brown. These bewigged, mustachioed cartoons come to life are pop culture icons, and this is a bombastic, bonkers film befitting their fame. The 2002 adventure-fantasy film follows the titular characters Asterix (Christian Clavier) and Obelix (Depardieu), Gauls from a small village who have been fending off Roman invaders for years thanks to a magical potion that bestows them Popeye-like super strength, as they venture to Egypt to aid a desperate architect (Jamel Debbouze) who must build a palace commissioned by Cleopatra (Belluci) for Julius Caesar. The mile-a-minute dialogue is jam packed with puns and tongue-in-cheek references that make it near impossible to catch up through English subtitles, but the cartoonish physical comedy is more than enough to keep you entertained.

Watch This If You Like: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Austin Powers, The Pink Panther, seeing Gerard Depardieu in a bad red wig.

Folklore – HBO Go

Country: Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea

Genre: Horror anthology series

Director: Joko Anwar, Takumi Saitoh, Eric Khoo, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Ho Yuhang, Lee Sang-Woo

Cast: Marissa Anita, Kazuki Kitamura, Li Wen Qiang, Nuttapon Sawasdee, Bront Palarae, Lee Chae Yeon.

Asia is a continent rich in eerie myths and grim superstitions, and HBO is bringing them into the modern day with its six-episode anthology series Folklore. Showcasing horror stories from six Asian countries — Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand — Folklore spotlights the occult beliefs and folklore in episodes helmed by a director from that country and filmed locally in its primary language. The fairy-tale like myths of each of the episodes only add another layer of dread to this series, which is genuinely creepy. From the child-kidnapping Wewe Gombel of the Singaporean episode “A Mother’s Love” to the South Korean psychological family thriller “Mongdal,” Folklore spans cultures and genres in thematically rich and visually stunning storytelling that will leave you wanting scared of more than just the boogeyman.

Watch This If You LikeThe Haunting of Hill House, Channel Zero, Lore, not sleeping because sleep is overrated anyway.

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