It is a shame that Korean cinema isn’t appreciated as it should be in the West. It deserves a much better recognition and distribution. I understand that a lot of people are put off by foreign language film but I hope no one will let that stop them from watching the movies on this list because they are really good!
This is a movie from Bong Joon-Ho. He also directed Snowpiercer & Okja. Those movies didn’t make this list but are also really good. Parasite has been recently awarded with the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival and I have to say, it was very well deserved.
I’m going to keep things vague here to avoid spoilers. The film follows a lower-class South Korean family that is scheming a rich family living in a dream house. The schemes keep you entertained for the first hour. It is a great satire and super amusing in an absurd way. But after that, the movie takes the audience through a roller coaster of emotions.
Overall, the film is very entertaining. Very funny at times and It is paced incredibly well. The actors are all great and the whole social commentary is extremely well executed and can be interpreted at a universal level.
Burning is an enigmatic, complex, intelligent and remarkable film directed by Chang-dong Lee.
I love how the film smartly subverts your expectations. It is incredibly unique, and both visually stimulating and thought-provoking. Steven Yeun and Yoo Ah-In deliver bravura performances.
The movie has a deliberate slow build and creates a great characterization. The intricate details Chang-dong Lee plants throughout the entirety of the film are masterful.
The Villainess (2017)
The Villainess is an action-packed, super violent and visually stunning flick. The cinematography and editing are both insane. The story is a bit hard to follow, with multiple timelines but the plot kept me interested.
The movie has a great balance of action and thrill. Supported by great acting performances, an interesting and very well written story that is Intelligent, heartbroken and cruel and really tense at times.
Summing up, The Villainess is a top-notch action film that would make John Wick envious.
The Handmaiden (2016)
The Handmaiden is a psychological thriller film. And it was also directed by Park Chan-Wook.
Everything about this movie is amazing and works so well. The acting, the soundtrack, the script and the cinematography help to lay out a very complex story. I also loved the setting and costumes. I normally don’t like period pieces but I really enjoyed this one and it really took me back in time.
The Handmaiden kept me guessing for a while. Mostly because it is a fantastically written film, with such a deep, layered, and a messed-up plot. I loved all the twists and turns, and the storytelling technique that Park Chan-Wook used and how everything came together so smoothly in the end.
Train to Busan (2016)
I was initially reluctant to watch this movie because I’m Not normally a huge fan of zombie movies. But I’ve got to say, this one is pretty good. A great take on the genre. A zombie movie done right.
Train To Busan is a fast-paced action and claustrophobic train ride. It is fun, well written, has great performances and is action-packed. The plot is very simple with lots of zombie action and some good comedy. But it totally works. It also has great visuals, production value and provided some great social commentary.
The movie itself is not a jump-scare or straight-up horror. But it will keep you engaged until the end. One of the greatest zombie movies out there.
I Saw the Devil (2010)
I Saw The Devil is definitely not for everybody. The movie is brutal and thought-provoking and doesn’t shy away from gore.
The film shows the descent to the madness that revenge creates. It is well made and it had lots of tension. Just a dark, intense but beautiful movie. I love how it straddles the line between slapstick humor and how absurdly disturbing it is.
Old Boy convinced me that Choi Min Sik is one of the greatest actors of our time. And he is menacing and downright terrifying in I saw the devil.
If you have not seen this movie, do yourself a favor a check it out. This is one of the best Korean films ever. An absolute masterpiece.
The Man From Nowhere (2010)
The Man From Nowhere is a kickass action movie that is all-around well-made and manages to create its own identity.
The flick is a * little slow at first, but it is worth the wait. It totally manages to create just the right dark, gloomy mood to match the story. The villains aren’t over the top comic book evil, they are just street criminals. The action sequences are well done is genuinely gritty and intense which is what some action movies lacking today.
The plot isn’t that original. A highly skilled operative taking it upon himself to rescue someone they love from the hands of devious villains. Super simple but also very well executed.
Thirst is a vampire love story loosely based on Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin novel, directed by Park Chan-Wook. And tells the story of a priest that is turned into a vampire after he participates in a medical experiment to find a cure for a deadly disease.
The movie has an interesting premise, good writing and well-developed characters. Absolutely tremendous acting from Ha-Kyun Shin and Ok-bin Kim whose onscreen chemistry is amazing.
The movie is layered with complexities, moral dilemmas, and themes include religion, faith, sin, lust, obsession, absolution and punishment. The story is thought-provoking and well laid out throughout.
Dark, but not really scary. A great take on a vampire romance movie.
Old boy was my introduction to South Korean film and I absolutely love this movie.
The film is an incredibly dark tale of revenge. It has very interesting characters, intriguing plot, profound philosophical questions, and insanely cool action sequences.
The acting, the cinematography, and the story are all top-notch. It has a great concept and beautiful direction. The hallway scene alone is one of the greatest action scenes ever made.
The pace of the film is spot on and always kept me guessing. It has a few things that could have been resolved a little bit better. But overall this is an outstanding movie.
One last thing. Do not waste your time watching the trash American remake of Oldboy, which is really really bad.
A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)
A Tale Of Two Sisters is a brilliant psychological thriller, heart-wrenching drama, and horror all wrapped up in one movie.
it revolves around two girls returning to their father’s home from the hospital after an extended illness. Then they have to deal with a very condescending and mean stepmother.
The movie has some great atmosphere from the start to the end and some really creepy scenes as well. The narrative can be a little bit confused at times but, although the film does require a rather significant amount of puzzle-solving, I personally found the storyline to be fairly self-explanatory.
A Tale Of Two Sisters might not be gory, but it gets pretty scary at times and the subject matter is pretty disturbed.