CAST:  Justin Chien, Sam Song Li, Michelle Yeoh, Highdee Kuan, Joon Lee, Madison Hu, Alice Hewkin, Jenny Yang, Jon Xue Zhang, Johnny Kou

DIRECTOR: Byron Wu, Brad Falchuk

In the initial scenes of Netflix’s “The Brothers Sun,” a group of assassins storm into the residence of Charles Sun (played by Justin Chien), a key figure in a notorious crime syndicate. With seamless and extended shots, Charles fends off his attackers with the poise of someone well-trained and accustomed to peril, hurling adversaries through the air and splattering his pristine floor with blood.

Yet, this isn’t your typical dark and intense skirmish. Instead, the whole sequence is juxtaposed with an episode of “The Great British Bake Off” that Charles had been casually viewing before the abrupt disturbance. As Charles forcefully slams an assailant’s head with a rolling pin, a contestant on the show laments, “I’m so wounded.” Meanwhile, as Charles hurls another attacker from the upper level, the show’s host comments with a resigned, “Oh no, I think your cake’s just fallen.” This unexpected contrast adds a layer of dark humor and irony to the otherwise violent scene.

The Brothers Sun' Review: Michelle Yeoh, Justin Chien Slay The Action

The series kicks off with eight hour-long episodes filled with intense action and surprising plot twists, all designed to ensure viewers have a great time. While the show might not quite meet its ambitious goals, it still provides enough entertainment to be as addictive as a fresh batch of cookies.

In the initial episodes, “The Brothers Sun” comes across as a lively but slightly inconsistent buddy comedy. After the attack, Charles departs Taiwan to find his long-lost mother (Michelle Yeoh) in Los Angeles. There, he’s stunned to find his younger brother, Bruce (Sam Song Li), living a sheltered, naive American life, oblivious to their family’s criminal background and aspiring only to be an improv comedian. This revelation shakes Bruce to the core. As the brothers navigate through various misadventures, including identifying a decapitated head and delivering an exotic lizard, their awkwardness gradually transforms into a bickering, brotherly bond reminiscent of their childhood, eventually blooming into true respect and affection.

Justin Chien shines in his role, effortlessly switching between Charles’s ingrained killer instincts and his underlying, more domesticated nature with minor changes in expression and posture. Often the straight man to Bruce’s more eccentric character, Charles’s serious approach becomes amusing, especially when he applies his formidable focus to finding the perfect churro recipe. Meanwhile,

Michelle Yeoh, renowned for her roles in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “American Born Chinese,” plays the enigmatic matriarch with ease. Her performance as the stern, secretive ‘Asian auntie’ is a delight to watch, bringing humor and intensity to scenes where she chastises her grown sons or outsmarts her captors

The Brothers Sun' Review: Michelle Yeoh in Netflix Action Dramedy – The  Hollywood Reporter

The familial dynamics in “The Brothers Sun” provide a surprisingly relatable emotional core to the series. Despite the criminal undertones and elaborate fight scenes, the Sun family deals with universal dilemmas: balancing personal aspirations with parental expectations, and navigating the complex give and take of family relationships. While the series doesn’t delve too deeply into the characters’ psychological scars, preferring to maintain a focus on their thrilling escapades, it still offers enough emotional depth to keep viewers empathetic towards the morally ambiguous Suns.

On this strong thematic groundwork, the series constructs a wild rollercoaster of criminal antics. While “The Brothers Sun” doesn’t carve out a completely unique style, it adeptly borrows elements from renowned influences like Edgar Wright, John Wick, and Jackie Chan, evident in its action sequences, rhythm, and humor. The show turns the predominantly Asian American San Gabriel Valley into a quirky criminal world, where everyday places double as fronts for illicit activities and hitmen might show up at a child’s party in inflatable dinosaur suits, adding a layer of eccentricity and unpredictability.

Review: Michelle Yeoh elevates 'The Brothers Sun' on Netflix - Los Angeles  Times

However, the blend of different tones in the series isn’t flawless. Later episodes tend to rely too much on predictable plot twists and sudden shifts in character motivations. While the Sun family is well-crafted, the secondary characters are hit or miss. Characters like the affable henchman Blood Boots stand out in brief appearances, while others, such as Charles’ love interest Alexis or Bruce’s friend TK, feel underdeveloped or serve as mere comic fodder. Not all the humor lands perfectly either; Bruce’s improv hobby, for instance, doesn’t evolve beyond its initial humorous juxtaposition with his gangster lineage.

Yet, even the show’s less steady moments are forgivable, seeming to stem from a genuine intent to entertain and engage. Interestingly, both Charles and Bruce share a love for simple pleasures, like the sweetness of baked goods or the laughter brought by comedy, reflecting the show’s own aim to provide straightforward enjoyment. In this way, “The Brothers Sun” mirrors its protagonists, focusing on delivering unadulterated pleasure to its audience.

One of the standout aspects of the series is its character development. The brothers, each with their distinct personalities and motives, are portrayed with depth and complexity. This not only makes them intriguing to watch but also adds a layer of unpredictability to the story.

Technically, the series shines with its sleek cinematography and well-choreographed action sequences. The directors do a fantastic job of capturing the tension and drama of the narrative, using visual storytelling to enhance the emotional weight of each scene.

The screenplay is another high point, offering a well-paced and engaging story that keeps you hooked with its twists and turns. It’s a show that manages to balance the action and drama with moments of emotional depth, making it a well-rounded series.

The performances are top-notch, with the actors delivering compelling portrayals that bring their complex characters to life. Their interactions and conflicts are one of the driving forces of the series, making each episode a delight to watch.

Overall, “The Brothers Sun” is a gripping series with a lot to offer. Whether you’re a fan of crime dramas or just looking for a well-crafted story with strong characters, this show is worth watching.

Streams on Netflix


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