Over the past five years Korean directors and filmmakers have made a heavy impact on Western audiences. So to celebrate the release of Byung-gil Jung’s The Villainess (which is being shown to UK Cinemas and digitally on 15th September) we have put together a list of our must-see Korean action films!
The Villainess (2017)
Starting off with The Villainess itself, this film follows Sook-hee, a trained killer, as she takes out thugs and wrecks havoc. This film not only has breath-taking actions sequences, but also gives audiences a personal view of what Sook-hee’s actions cost her.
Confession of Murder (2013)
From the same director as The Villainess, Confession of Murder is a dark and compelling story that follows a man who confesses to a series of murders and spirals into themes of obsession, grief and justice. This thriller showcases amazing stunts and major fight sequences that we also see in The Villainess!
This isn’t just your average gangster flick, Roughcut depicts Gang-pae, an inspiring actor, and Soo-ta, an actor aspiring to the life of a gang member. Once their paths cross the film takes the real world of violence within the gang culture into the production world – where action is usually a well-choreographed mimic of violence.
The Good, the Bad and the Weird (2008)
This film takes the form of a Western, only instead of cowboys and saloon fights it’s set in the wilderness of 1930’s-40’s Manchuria! The story sees three characters, a hitman, a thief and a bounty hunter, as they all scavenge for the buried treasure of the Qing Dynasty. The Good, the Bad and the Weird shows hyper-violent action across the vast landscape of China, making it an epic Korean action film!
Man from Nowhere (2010)
The Man from Nowhere is the tale of Tae-shik, a retired man who helps his neighbour find a kidnapped girl only to find that his methods put him against the law. This film is a revenge filled thriller that is filled to the brim with tension, action and unlikely bonds.
A Bittersweet Life (2005)
Directed by Kim Jae-woon (who also made The good, the Bad and the Weird) and set in Seoul, A Bittersweet Life is a thrilling gangster film full of action, revenge and love. It blends the intensity of the action genre with elegantly choreographed violence as it follows the aftermath of how a secret can lead to an irreversible gang war!
The Berlin File (2013)
Following Myung-soo, an agent who tries to balance the love for his wife and his country, The Berlin File is an exciting film that looks at the complexity and hierarchy of government, secret agendas and conflicting loyalties!
Shiri is an hectic psychological thriller that depicts two secret agents who are on a mission to take down an arms (weapons) smuggler. Focusing on love and terrorism in Korea, the story has both an interesting twist and international consequences!
The City of Violence (2006)
After suspecting foul play regarding his friend’s death, Tae-Su’s investigations lead him to encounter his old gang, which starts him on a journey to discover the truth. The City of Violence is a high-energy thriller full of suspense, mystery, action, Korean martial arts and surprisingly comic elements!
Last but certainly not least is Okja – a film that addresses the bond between man and animal. The story follows Mija, a young girl who’s best friend, a genetically modified pig named Okja, is taken from her. The plot then continues to shows us Mija’s struggle as she overcomes capitalists, evil CEO’s and other obstacles to get her friend back!
This film is definitely not as violent as the others on this list, but some scenes are so disturbingly heartbreaking that it will leave you thinking about it even after the movie is over!
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