Sometimes a reprieve is needed from intense TV series. The yearning to binge-watch something that won’t require much cerebral activity is necessary now and again.
And I found just the show, if you are in a similar frame of mind, in “The Brothers Sun”.
The 8-part series opens on a slick note with Charles Sun (Justin Chien) baking. His meticulous skills in the kitchen would make the most seasoned pastry chefs envious.
But his peaceful moment is disrupted by a few unexpected guests, which he, of course, gets rid of.
His father Big Sun (Johnny Kou), a feared Triad figure, drops by in the aftermath to chastise him about not keeping one of the intruders alive to extract vital information.
Their interaction is cut short when Big Sun is shot. While bleeding out, he advises his son to protect his mother Eileen (aka Mama Sun), played by Michelle Yeoh, and younger brother, Bruce (Sam Song).
With an unknown enemy on his tail, Charles heads to California, where the body count continues to pile up.
The reunion with his mother and brother is interesting. Being a typical mother, Mama Sun, masking her delight at seeing her eldest son after many years, chastises him for leaving a mess in her house.
Meanwhile, Bruce, who is completely in the dark about his family’s history and influence, grudgingly agrees to help his drug dealer best friend, TK Lee (Joon Lee), push drugs at a club.
Bruce, who is studying to become a doctor, urgently needs to come up with $ 5 000 to pay for his studies after using the money to pay for his improv classes.
His mother isn’t aware of this, though.
With Charles realising he will need foot soldiers while trying to get to the bottom of who tried to kill his father, he visits the club that Bruce happens to also be at.
The situation gets messy but he finds an ally in June, who is seeking to avenge the callous murder of her twin sister, May Song.
The more Charles looks into who is behind the attacks, suspecting Sleepy Chan of being behind it, he, along with his right hands Blood Boots (Jon Xue Zhang) and Xing (Jenny Yang) uncover a sinister plot at work, orchestrated by the Boxers.
Meanwhile, Alexis Kong (Highdee Kuan), Charles’ childhood friend from Taipei, who is now a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, gets close to him to land a career-making case.
There are many balls in the air. And Charles, in protecting his family, is forced to make some tough calls when he is forced to choose between love and duty.
“The Brothers Sun” is a well-cast, adroitly directed and masterfully written series. The violence is offset by comic levity and heart-warming bonding moments.
Chien is brilliant in his role. He is stoic, intense and feared. Baking, which is uncharacteristic for a man of his stature, is his way of escaping from his reality. It instils in him a calm he yearns for.
Song is a riot. His goofball character is in keeping with that of a younger sibling. While he isn’t entitled as he didn’t grow up rich, he has a strong sense of right and wrong and, having grown up in the US, isn’t restricted by the same family values and expectations that Charles deals with.
Yeoh, as expected, is a marvel to watch. She’s a bit of a dark horse as well. While protective of her family, she is also a woman looking to challenge an archaic system within the triad.
She’s calculated, smart and a force to be reckoned with.
“The Brothers Sun” is a fun, action-packed series that is wonderfully executed.
It keeps streamers thoroughly entertained with plenty of curve balls scattered throughout as the dysfunctional criminal family deals with a crisis that threatens their future and, inevitably, that of the triad as well.
∎ “The Brothers Sun” is streaming on Netflix.