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Under One Roof
Photograph: Mediacorp

The best local films and series to binge-watch on Netflix

Over 100 Singapore films and TV series – best in Singapore, JB and some say Batam – are coming to Netflix this August

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Written by
Cam Khalid
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In recent years, Netflix has redefined the viewing experience by allowing you to virtually cross borders and binge-watch films and series from around the world such as the highly acclaimed Kingdom (South Korea), Money Heist (Spain), and Dark from Germany, on top of the many American titles. But hold off the imports for now as Netflix is bringing some of the best of Singapore films and TV shows to our screens once more – and it's quite a selection.

In addition to existing local titles including Shirkers, A Yellow Bird, A Land Imagined, and Revenge of the Pontianak, Mediacorp comedy series such as Phua Chu Kang, Under One Roof, and The Noose, as well as blockbusters like Ah Boys To Men, and award winners like Ilo Ilo are making their Netflix debut in August, in time for National Day. 

Not sure where to start? Here are the ones we've added to our watch list. Now, grab some local snacks, and get ready to 'stream' down memory lane.

RECOMMENDED: The best local movies to stream online and the best upcoming movies in Singapore

Films

12 Storeys (1997)
Photograph: Zhao Wei Films

12 Storeys (1997)

Just as the title suggests, this film is set in an HDB flat and narrates the lives of its inhabitants within a 24-hour period. Its plot branches out into three main storylines. China Bride depicts a middle-aged man dealing with his new young wife from China. San San portrays a loner who suffers from depression. Sister’s Keeper tells that of an overbearing brother who dominates over his sibling while their parents are away. Let’s just say, all three experience an unexpected twist of events right before the credits roll.

Read our interview with the director, Eric Khoo here.

The Teenage Textbook Movie (1998)
Photograph: IMDA

The Teenage Textbook Movie (1998)

Based on the bestselling book of the same name (sans 'Movie') by Adrian Tan, this coming-of-age film adaptation spotlights the lives of four Junior College students as they navigate the perils of teen angst and first love. The light-hearted film is full of witty quips, and songs by local musicians in which the all-Singaporean soundtrack became the first for English-language Singapore films.

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I Not Stupid (2002)
Photograph: Mediacorp Raintree Pictures

I Not Stupid (2002)

Not much brainwork required – this satirical comedy follows the lives, struggles, and adventures of three Primary Six students who are placed in the EM3 stream. Beyond the slapstick humour, the film also highlights several aspects of modern Singapore culture such as streaming in the education system, defence to authority, socio-cultural stereotypes, and the impact these have on underprivileged kids and families.

Homerun (2003)
Photograph: Mediacorp Raintree Pictures

Homerun (2003)

This local Mandarin-remake has nothing on the original award-winning Iranian film Children of Heaven, but it's still worth watching for its satirical take on the tension between Singapore and Malaysia in the 60s, in which the story is set. The drama details the challenges faced by a brother-sister duo when a pair of shoes go missing. Besides themes of friendship and kinship, it also touches on the political relations between Singapore and Malaysia, and the socio-economic relationships between the rich and poor in the old Singapore. Bet you didn't know this film is banned in Malaysia too.

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The Maid (2005)
Photograph: Mediacorp Raintree Pictures

The Maid (2005)

The stuff of nightmares – this horror flick shines its torchlight at a very dark past. A family welcomes a new maid to care for the mentally disabled son, but her arrival is ill-timed as it's the seventh month of the year. It's believed that forces of the underworld are capable of unleashing their evil vibes during this period. As the newcomer begins her new job, she starts to find herself haunted by the sinister visions that reveal the fate of the family's previous maid.

Singapore Dreaming (2006)
Photograph: 5C Films

Singapore Dreaming (2006)

A nod to the essay Paved with Good Intentions, the award-winning Singapore Dreaming follows a family grappling between loss, ambition, change, and the realities of life. Despite its heavy themes, the film is light-hearted and relatable, especially in a fast-paced city like Singapore. Plus, it earned S.R. Nathan’s commendation – and that says a lot. Just bear in mind, the dialogue shifts in between English, Mandarin, and Singlish. If you need a lil' help, simply turn on the subtitles.

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881 (2007)
Photograph: Zhao Wei Films

881 (2007)

A quirky homage to Singapore's Getai scene, this musical comedy is about two friends who grew up with immense love for the sub-culture. After being blessed by the Getai Goddess, the pair emerge as the Papayas, the most popular Getai duo in the city. But the plot thickens when their main competitors, the Durian Sisters, start cooking diabolical plans to sabotage the Papayas' performances out of jealousy.

Kallang Roar the Movie (2008)
Photograph: Netflix

Kallang Roar the Movie (2008)

Not just another football flick à la Bend It Like Beckham and Goal!, Kallang Roar the Movie documents the legendary coach of the Singapore national football team: Choo Seng Quee. The dramatic take reimagines the events leading up to Singapore winning the Malaysia Cup in 1977, including the epic semi-final match against Selangor, and the final against Penang. Do the Kallang Wave when the credits roll.

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Ah Boys To Men series (2012)
Photograph: MM2 Entertainment

Ah Boys To Men series (2012)

For now, you'll find both the first two titles out of the Ah Boys To Men film series in Netflix's catalogue. The first film sees a privileged and impulsive Singaporean attempting to escape the grips of the mandatory National Service to study abroad with his girlfriend. The story then continues in the sequel where the focus shifts towards the main protagonist's NS experience and the friends he made in the army. It also touches on themes such as sacrifice, love, family, and patriotism. It's definitely a film that resonates well with Singaporeans who have served the nation. Hormat senjata!

Ilo Ilo (2013)
Photograph: Fisheye Pictures

Ilo Ilo (2013)

The first Singapore film to land an award at the Cannes Film Festival 2013, Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo is one film that leaves you fogged up with tears. This tearjerker documents the inseparable bond between a boy and his new Filipina maid. Besides showcasing the struggle of the 1997 Asian financial crisis faced by most families then, Chen also cleverly depicts the class and racial tensions held within the household.

Read our interview with Anthony Chen here.

TV Series

Under One Roof (1995-2003)
Photograph: Mediacorp

Under One Roof (1995-2003)

Featuring a diverse cast, Under One Roof portrays life living in an HDB flat. The sitcom tells the story of a Chinese mini-mart owner Tan Ah Teck, his wife Dolly, and children Paul, Ronnie and Denise, as well as their Indian neighbours Daisy and her brother Michael, and the married Malay couple next door Rosnah and Yusof. It is also known for its heavy use of Singlish dialogue, which is dubbed in French for its overseas broadcast, making it the first local English sitcom to be dubbed into a foreign language.

Growing Up (1996-2001)
Photograph: Mediacorp

Growing Up (1996-2001)

Growing up in Singapore, you must've seen this family drama on the telly (unless you're too young to remember). After all, it's one of Singapore's longest-running TV series. Full of nostalgia, Growing Up is set in the sixties and seventies, so expect to catch glimpses of rediffusion radio, the wayang, and those retro dos. All six seasons showcase a stern father who navigates through the changes in life that threaten to tear his family apart.

 

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Phua Chu Kang (1997-2007)
Photograph: Mediacorp

Phua Chu Kang (1997-2007)

Earlier this year, Phua Chu Kang took the virtual stage to spit fire Singlish bars to remind Singaporeans to "be steady" during the circuit breaker. But let's take a trip back to a time when the yellow boots-wearing icon dominated our TV screens. Another long-running series, Phua Chu Kang (aka PCK) is an eccentric superstar contractor who boasts to be "the best in Singapore, JB and some say Batam". Full of colourful characters, quick gags, and memorable scenes, the sitcom has given us some of the most iconic Singlish catchphrases such as "don't play play" (pronounced "pray pray"), and "use your brain" (pronounced "blain").

The Noose (2007-2016)
Photograph: Mediacorp

The Noose (2007-2016)

There's a reason this sketch comedy series earned a nomination at the International Emmy Awards 2011 – it's local comedy as its finest. A play on the word 'news', The Noose is a spoof of local TV news that satirises socio-cultural and political issues in Singapore, as well as actual newsworthy incidents in the city and beyond. It has also birth iconic characters such as Leticia Bongnino (played by Michelle Chong), Andre Chichak (played by Alaric Tay), Jacques Ooi (played by Chua En Lai), Jojo Joget (played by Suhaimi Yusof), and See Yan Yan (played by Judee Tan).

Full list of programmes

From August 1

Ah Boys to Men II
Bring Back The Dead
Singapore Dreaming
Old Cow Vs Tender Grass
King of Mahjong
Where Got Ghost
Meeting The Giant
Just Follow Law
Love Cuts, Love Matters
The Maid
It’s A Great Great World
Perfect Rivals
The Best Bet
I Not Stupid Too
Dance Dance Dragon
The Wedding Diary
Ghost Child
The Ghost Must Be Crazy
Homerun
I Not Stupid
12 Lotus
I Do I Do
Rubbers
The Leap Years
Forever
Ilo Ilo
Already Famous
Wanton Mee
Banting
12 Storeys
Kallang Roar the Movie
3 Peas in a Pod
Be With Me, Sayang Disayang
881
Kidnapper
Gone Shopping
18 Grams Of Love

From August 8

Sandcastle
My Magic
Mee Pok Man
Money No Enough
Money No Enough Too
Gurushetram – 24 Hours Of Anger
The Teenage Textbook Movie
The Tree
Liang Po Po The Movie
In The Room
Two Boys And A Mermaid
Taxi Taxi
Ah Long Pte Ltd
The Songs We Sang (FKA ‘The Songs That We Sang’)
Tatsumi
The Truth About Jane and Sam
Growing Up
The Price of Peace
Bunga Tanjong
Teochew Family
The Wedding Game
Vijayanthi
The Matchmaker’s Match
Best of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd

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From August 15

To Madam With Love
Santa The Happy Ghost
Best of Don’t Worry Be Happy
Somewhere In Time
Spirit On Wheels

From August 30

The Unbeatables I
The Unbeatables II
The Unbeatables III
Best of Under One Roof
The Best of The Noose
Growing Up Season 2
Growing Up Season 3

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Coming this September and October

Vettai Season 1
Vettai Season 2
Vettai Season 3
Best of Right Frequency
Immortal Love
Just In Singapore
Mystery I
Hainan Kopi Tales
Metamorphosis
Morning Express I
The Legend Ji Gong
Aduh Bibikku Series 1

Aduh Bibikku Series 2
Return of the Condor Heroes
The Champion
Stepping Out
Vettai Season 2
Morning Express II
Mystery II

The Legendary Swordsman
Legends of The Eight Immortals
The New Adventures Of Wisely
The Return of Royal Monk
The Guest People
The Royal Monk
The Golden Pillow
The Witty Advisor

Wild Orchids
Vive La Famile
Zero to Hero
Tofu Street
Beautiful Connection

Binge-watch

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