I promised myself that if Parasite gained the Finest Image Oscar, I’d run this listicle of one of the best Korean movies I’ve seen because the flip of the millennium, so right here’s a complement to my newbie’s information to the films of that nation. I used to be improper after I acknowledged that I had by no means seen a Korean movie directed by a lady; Kim So-yong and Eom Yo-na are each girls. I’m utilizing the Academy’s guidelines that the movie needs to be at the least half within the Korean language to depend as a Korean movie, which regrettably signifies that I’ve to axe Snowpiercer. Additionally, since Kim Sang-jin’s Assault the Fuel Station! was by no means theatrically launched on this nation, I can’t take into account it, both. Even so, there is a humiliation of riches right here, particularly for those who like motion thrillers, so chill with a chilly glass of soju and watch.

1. The Handmaiden

Park Chan-wook meant this movie to be a straight-up adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith set in Victorian England, however modified his thoughts when he discovered the BBC had already performed one. The ensuing movie improved on each the ebook and the TV serial by being set at a time when Koreans have been second-class residents in their very own nation. That provides much more sharpness to this harmful and oh so very attractive lesbian romance.

2. Secret Sunshine

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t point out this in my Korean cinema article, however this drama a couple of widowed mom who’s put by an almighty wringer is a devastating expertise like few others. Director Lee Chang-dong (previously South Korea’s Minister of Tradition) views her plight in an unsentimental vogue and lead actress Jeon Do-yeon (who gained one of the best actress prize at Cannes) delivers a crushing efficiency.

3. Parasite

In South Korea, Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar victories are being taken much less as a nationwide triumph and extra as an “oh, you lastly observed us” second. Nonetheless, the Oscar telecast in that nation was punctuated by commentator Lee Dong-jin’s scream of disbelief over the Finest Image announcement, and South Korea’s political conservatives (longtime enemies of Bong) are actually proposing to construct a statue of him. The reason for this checklist deserves a spot excessive up on it.

4. Burning

Given the tensions between South Korea and Japan (at the moment at a excessive level due to commerce), the Koreans will take some enjoyment of having produced a greater Haruki Murakami adaptation than any Japanese filmmaker. What makes this insidiously good is how Lee Chang-dong performs with our perceptions: We expect the wealthy Korean-American dude (a creepy Steven Yeun) may be a serial killer, however the film sticks so intently to the point of view of its mentally sick protagonist (Yoo Ah-in) that we will’t be certain.

5. The Host

This can be a science-fiction film by Bong Joon-ho, however don’t confuse it with the Saoirse Ronan sci-fi thriller by the identical title, which got here out across the identical time and is horrible. This performed at AMC Grapevine Mills again in 2007, and it was the primary Korean film that made me assume, “Oh, rattling!” Additionally, the prologue with a U.S. Military scientist (Scott Wilson) dumping hazardous chemical compounds into the Han River? That really occurred.

6. Woman Vengeance

This can be a minority viewpoint, however I feel that is one of the best of Park Chan-wook’s vengeance trilogy. It’s definitely the one one from a lady’s perspective, as Lee Yeong-ae performs an ex-convict who goes free from jail and swears revenge on the individuals who put her there. You gained’t quickly overlook the scene the place she forces Choi Min-sik’s killer to translate her message for her daughter into English.

7. Spring, Summer season, Fall, Winter … and Spring

As with Roman Polanski, it’s important to admit Kim Ki-duk’s directing chops even whereas taking in the truth that he’s seemingly a perverted particular person. This Buddhist allegory is his greatest movie, commenting on the altering of the seasons as a monk returns to a sparsely populated monastery at completely different phases of his life and displays on the passage of time.

8. Oldboy

I’m not as excessive on this one as most different Korean film followers are, however Park Chan-wook’s ultraviolent thriller nonetheless has the well-known scene with Choi Min-sik killing all these mobsters with a hammer, to not point out how his revenge plot finally ends up recoiling upon himself. Take this over Spike Lee’s English-language remake.

9. Excessive Job

I’ve already spent a ton of this awards season raving about this fried-chicken cop thriller, so I gained’t add an excessive amount of.

10. A Story of Two Sisters

Kim Ji-woon’s greatest movie is that this hair-raising horror movie primarily based on an historical Korean people story about two kids coping with a gorgeous however evil stepmother (Yeom Jung-ah). She cuts a terrifying determine as she says, “I feel you women have to be taught a lesson.” The scene with the factor underneath the fridge will spawn nightmares, too. Hollywood remade this as The Uninvited with Elizabeth Banks, however avoid that in favor of the unique.

11. Mom

One more film by Bong. This one a couple of mom whose son is accused of homicide consists of dance numbers, karaoke, legal professionals and cops being unbelievably dangerous at their jobs, and a testomony to how a mom’s love for her baby can result in essentially the most horrible issues.

12. Veteran

Yoo Ah-in stars in Burning, however he exhibits his vary on this thriller as a spoiled billionaire who cripples a nationally ranked MMA fighter within the octagon. The climactic combat between him and the antihero cop (Hwang Jung-min) earns marks for sheer brutality, as the 2 combatants use automobile doorways and a fireplace hydrant as weapons.

13. The Wailing

As a result of when your little lady turns into possessed by a demon, you need an exorcist sporting a person bun and a spotless Nike tracksuit rolling as much as your home in a brand-new Ford F-150. Na Hong-jin’s epic-length horror movie comes with bits of humor, commentary on anti-Japanism in Korea, and an exorcism that entails a percussion group, dancing, the slaughter of a dwell goat, and the shaman throwing spices within the lady’s face whereas she curses at him. I’d, too.

14. The Villainess

This action-thriller would make the checklist purely on the idea of the opening scene, shot from the antiheroine’s perspective as she kills a whole dojo filled with martial-arts college students with knives, her naked arms, and a 15-pound free weight. The remainder of Jeong Byeong-gil’s near-incomprehensible movie has motion sequences which are a showcase for main woman Kim Okay-vin.

15. The Admiral: Roaring Currents

This battle movie is somewhat sq., however there’s a terrific deal to be stated for the ability with which director Kim Han-min tells the story of this real-life Korean historic battle towards invading Japanese, much like a naval model of Thermopylae. The readability of the fight sequences is a most important motive why this was one of many largest hits in South Korean historical past.

16. Okja

Not that way back, you could possibly discover eating places in South Korea that served canine meat. It is smart {that a} filmmaker from that nation would make a hilarious comedy asking why we take into account some animals as meals and others as pets. The movie asks laborious questions of everybody who isn’t vegan and doesn’t eat canine. It additionally has humorous performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, and Paul Dano.

17. Rampant

Practice to Busan (see under) was the massive hit that broke new floor for particular results in South Korean films, however I discover Kim Sung-hoon’s zombie movie to be the higher one, with fleeter pacing and higher developed characters, to not point out a setting within the Joseon Dynasty that makes the film extra attention-grabbing to have a look at.

18. The Good, the Unhealthy, the Bizarre

Name this a kimchee Western. This Sergio Leone-inspired movie takes place on the barren deserts of Manchuria within the 1940s, as two outlaws and a bounty hunter combat one another (plus the Chinese language and the Japanese) for possession of a treasure map. The story is basically simply an excuse for Kim Ji-woon’s directorial prospers amid all of the shootouts and horseback chases.

19. The Man From Nowhere

Received Bin performs an ex-mobster who tries to put low, however when organ traffickers kidnap the 12-year-old lady who lives subsequent door, he goes round inflicting caveman ranges of violence on the gangsters. The Thai villain (Thanayong Wongtrakul) is an interesting dangerous man, too, a pointy dresser who’s fluent in each Korean and English, can filet somebody with a knife, and offers good recommendation that his Korean bosses don’t heed.

20. Tazza: One-Eyed Jack

That is the third movie in a collection about playing cheats and cardsharps making an attempt to attain massive and keep alive. That is the one film within the collection that I’ve had the prospect to see, and its deglamorized environment and double-crosses and betrayals make me keen to search out the others.

21. Chunhyang

Pansori is an historical type of Korean musical theater with one man accompanying himself whereas singing an epic story. The story of this movie, about a gorgeous lady who refuses to betray her husband with the governor even underneath torture, is a centuries-old story that has been made into greater than 15 movies. Im Kwon-taek’s extremely pictorial 2001 model is the one which brings pansori to a world viewers.

22. The Berlin File

Ryoo Seung-wan managed to piss off each the Israelis and the Palestinians with this spy thriller a couple of Korean agent in Germany who foils an Arab terrorist plot whereas additionally blackmailing a Mossad agent with a video that might torch Israel’s relationship with America. Say what you wish to about his politics, the climactic shootout between the hero and the terrorists is aces.

23. JSA (Joint Safety Space)

The breakthrough in Park Chan-wook’s thriller is its depiction of North Koreans not as villains however fairly as victims of the insane dictatorships that they’ve lived underneath. Along with turns by future stars like Lee Byung-hun and Music Kang-ho, the movie additionally factors out a flaw within the in any other case admirable humanitarian data of Sweden and Switzerland.

24. The Legal professional

Consider this like a Korean model of Erin Brockovich or Michael Clayton. Music Kang-ho (that man once more!) performs a grasping tax lawyer who discovers his conscience when he stumbles on proof of torture and homicide underneath South Korea’s navy dictatorship. Moderately than gaudy particular results or a brand new method of seeing the world, this authorized thriller soars on the power of its nice lead efficiency.

25. The President’s Final Bang

Right here’s how historical past has a low opinion of you: You develop into president of your nation, you get assassinated, somebody makes a movie about it, and it’s a comedy. Im Sang-soo’s satire precipitated an uproar in South Korea by depicting real-life former President Park Chung-hee as a drunk who throws wild events in workplace, gropes girls, and, worst of all, reveres Japanese tradition. A number of the humor right here is restricted to Korean tradition, however this does present you ways subversive Korean movie might be.

26. Treeless Mountain

Kim So-yong is an American filmmaker who focuses on quiet lyricism (see: her English-language lesbian romance Lovesong), however she made this little jewel in her native nation about two sisters who’re shuttled amongst aunts and grandparents whereas their mother and father try to fail to help them from afar.

27. I Noticed the Satan

They are saying that for those who spend all of your time chasing monsters, you ultimately develop into one. That’s what occurs to Lee Byung-hun’s federal agent on this thriller, who’s so hellbent on taking revenge on the serial killer (Choi Min-sik) who murdered his spouse that he’s keen to sacrifice his job and his remaining members of the family to engineer a Grand Guignol retribution on the killer. That is lurid and sensationalistic, and director Kim Ji-woon makes it laborious to look away.

28. Proper Now, Unsuitable Then

Hong Sang-soo’s films aren’t essentially the most accessible, nevertheless it’s simpler for those who consider this movie as a model of Sliding Doorways, with a well-known movie director (Jung Jae-young) coming to a pageant in a small Korean city and having an opportunity assembly with a younger lady (Kim Min-hee) come to each catastrophe and bliss.

29. 301/302

One of many extra disgusting meals films you’ll ever see, Park Chul-soo’s movie is concerning the twisted platonic romance that develops between a chef (Bang Eun-jin) and an anorexic (Hwang Shin-hye) who dwell in adjoining residences. Feminist students can have a area day with the best way this movie ties these girls’s psychological traumas with their consuming habits.

30. The Divine Fury

I’m together with Kim Joo-hwan’s supernatural thriller solely as a result of it’s a couple of Catholic priest and an MMA champion with stigmata who staff as much as defeat a demon prince. The film climaxes with the hero participating the demon in an epic taekwondo battle, and I’m wondering why American Christian movies don’t finish like this. The insane mash-up of genres and topics is a really Korean factor, and a superb place to finish this checklist.

Honorable point out: Park Chan-wook’s Shiri, Yeon Sang-ho’s Practice to Busan, Jang Hun’s A Taxi Driver, Im Kwon-taek’s Chi-hwa-seon: Painted Hearth, Lee Seok-hoon’s The Pirates, Eom Yeo-na’s Malmoe: The Secret Mission, Chang Yoon-hyun’s Inform Me One thing, Kim Ki-duk’s 3-Iron, Lee Chang-dong’s Oasis, Park Dae-min’s Non-public Eye, Shin Tae-ra’s My Girlfriend Is an Agent, Park Chan-wook’s Thirst, Yoon Je-kyoon’s Ode to My Father, Hong Sang-soo’s The Day He Arrives.





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