The 5 Best South Korean Movies



Honorable Mentions:  Mother, Bedevilled, New World, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, The Host, Thirst, A Tale of Two Sisters


5. The Chaser - Out of all the movies listed here, this one truly gets your blood boiling by the fact that you truly despise the villain. The Chaser is a fast paced serial killer thriller that takes a more unorthodox approach by placing the killer in police custody sooner than one might expect. But watching the killer manipulate the legal system and having time running against our heroes only makes the movie more tense and exciting. Coming from South Korea you can expect the movie to have a darker approach, which totally fits the setting and storytelling of the film. Again there are not elaborate shoot-outs or car chases, the movie relies on most of its tension with its ability to manipulate time and urgency. The movie switches scenes from captor to captive to create tension and it does it flawlessly, again time is of the essence. The Chaser isn't your typical Hollywood police procedural, it's a much darker ride with very thick tension that lasts the entire movie, unlike most generic Hollywood produced thrillers. South Korean filmmakers really know how to create suspense and keep the audience constantly engaged and enthralled. Score - (9/10)

4. I Saw The Devil - The movie may lack some depth with its characters, but it more than makes up for that with pure excitement and shock! This is a movie that portrays revenge as a very dark and twisted quest that certainly is not sugar coated in any way. It follows a man who more or less tortures the man who killed his wife, but rather than finish the job, he lets him go for the sole purpose of tracking him down and repeating the torture. It gets to the point where it gets you thinking how much pain does this man truly deserve. Aside from a very interesting and dark premise, there certainly are some lighter elements thrown in the lessen the impact. Some very dark humor, which mostly comes from Choi Min-Sik, is very welcomed in this bloody tale. But what I personal think stands out the most is the cinematography from the film, it's superb. It captures the beautiful scenery of the wintery season, but it more importantly takes the many tense scenes the movie has to offer to an even higher level. In the end, the movie presents the viewer with the excitement of 'the thrill of the hunt', but on the other side of the scale we know that the movie is getting closer and closer to the table being turned. Devil is a wild ride full of twists & turns, and even a bit of gore, but even during those darker moments in the film it's damn near impossible to take your eyes off the screen! Score - (10/10)

3. Snowpiercer - Bong Joon-ho has created yet another masterpiece in the cinema world, he is without question one of the greatest directors in the world (and a personal favorite). Snowpiercer marks his return to the sci-fi genre (his previous film being The Host) and he hasn't missed a step, he's only gotten better as a filmmaker. Snowpiercer tells the tale of a dystopian future where the remaining humans must ride a train traveling around the world in order to survive the winter apocalypse. It might seem silly, but once you see the 'world' he has created within the walls of the train, you know the movie is something much different. The movie doesn't feature a super villain or anything like that, but it features a noble character fighting for what is right. Again, Bong brilliantly knows how to switch the tone of the movie and get the best emotional response from the audience. Snowpiercer features plenty of thrilling moments, but it's real high points are the social & political commentary the movie features. I won't dive into that right now, but it speaks volumes about certain societies today and it gets my blood boiling. But when all is said and done, Snowpiercer is something we have never seen before and I cannot stress enough how important that is in today's filmmaking. This is another masterpiece coming from Bong Joon-ho who has given us some of the best movies of the decade (Mother, The Host, and Memories of Murder). Score - (10/10)

2. Memories of Murder - This movie comes in at a very, very close second place to only one other movie. Memories of Murder is one of the greatest serial killer dramas of all time, right up there with Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Bong Joon-ho gives us everything we could hope for in a movie, suspense, anxiety, laughter, excitement, and fear. And even with all such emotions running high, the movie never loses its footing, the gravity of the situation remains at a constant high and it's unnerving. Memories of Murder is based on South Korea's first serial killer in 1987 and follows a police department trying to track him or her down while the nation is under military control. The movie not only focuses on finding out the identity of the killer, but it also shows the harsh impact it has on the detectives trying to solve the case, as well as the small town that is now home to a serial killer's sadistic game. The movie remains grounded and local, which makes the impact more poignant and harrowing. Memories stands very tall in this populated genre because Bong knows just how to switch the movie's tone from humor to bone-chilling suspense. Score - (10/10)

1. Oldboy - This is the pinnacle of South Korean cinema, 'Oldboy' is a flat-out masterpiece, one of the most captivating movies of all time! The second entry in Park's 'Vengeance Trilogy', Oldboy combines a fantastic tale of revenge with enough stylish flair to make this movie something extremely special. Oldboy shows the complete breakdown of its title character and then follows him around as he tries to put himself back together for better or worse. The story might seem a tad simplistic, but it's unraveled in such a unique and contorted way, that it makes the movie so much more interesting to watch. Especially with its outstanding cryptic dialogue which keeps you guessing and engaged the entire time. There are so many instances where the dialogue is an integral part the story and its deciphering is crucial, especially in the end game and its final moments. You know a movie is phenomenal when after watching the movie, particular lines of dialogue linger on your mind just as much as its visual scenery! Oldboy is a hypnotic experience and is one of the greatest movies of all time! Score - (10/10)

Comments

  1. Of these I have only seen Snowpiercer and Oldboy, but I agree, those were great movies. As I said before, the twist in Oldboy was spoiled, but was still one heck of a ride. It's interesting that it is based on a Japanese manga. Have you ever read it? I have considered reading it before.

    Memories of Murder is near the top of my must-watch list though. It seems like my kind of film with the murder mystery element. I hope Amazon Prime or Netflix streams it soon.

    -James

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    Replies
    1. No I have not read that, I considered reading it as well, but I never got around to it! 'Oldboy' was something special for me, I really loved the dialogue for some reason!

      'Memories of Murder' is amazing, It's definitely a slower movie when compared to other serial killer thrillers/dramas. But again, there is something special about it, the cinematography is stellar and the clues were very interesting. That is another top 10 movie of all time for me! I took a chance and bought the DVD based on reviews alone and was not disappointed, but I also read that it was on Netflix Streaming a few years ago, hopefully they bring it back!

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  2. A Tale of Two Sisters should've at least got an honorable mention. SMH.

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