Give me your best Korean movies
June 21, 2016 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Seeing as it's been 12 years since this question has been asked - fan fave Old Boy was released in the meantime - it might be a good time to ask this again: what are your favorite Korean movies? Anything goes, but bonus points for dramas that depict modern city life.
posted by wolfr to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:31 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

"It's a shame that popcorn isn't allowed in the grand theaters of Cannes, because if ever a movie called for binge eating out of a tub, eyes riveted to the screen, it's Park Chan-Wook's The Handmaiden (French title:Mademoiselle), which jolted awake every bleary-eyed reporter at its packed debut screening Saturday morning. An adaptation of Welsh author Sarah Waters's kinky, award-winning 2002 historical crime novel Fingersmith set in Victorian England, Park moves the action to 1930s Korea under Japanese colonialism, where class and tradition still loomed large, but a rich family could flaunt status by having electricity — which plays a dramatic role in the movie — in their big homes. "Was that as good as I thought it was?" - The Korean Gothic Lesbian Revenge Thriller That’s Captivated Cannes

Very much looking forward to The Handmaiden.

I enjoyed Hae-jun Lee's 'Castaway on the Moon'
- Trailer
- imdb
posted by little eiffel at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not modern day city life, but The Brotherhood of War is exceptional.

Also, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, which is almost the polar opposite of my first suggestion.
posted by 256 at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2016

Oh, and I wasn't a big fan of Snowpiercer, but a lot of other people really liked it.
posted by 256 at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know that it's the best since it's really just a popcorn action movie, but I really love A Company Man. Fun fight choreography and I was surprised by how funny it is given how many people die.
posted by snaw at 2:06 PM on June 21, 2016

2nding Mr. 256, Tae Guk Gi is one of my favorite of all movies, not just Korean films.
posted by TomFoolery at 2:21 PM on June 21, 2016

As far as I can tell, Joon-ho Bong hasn't made a bad movie. Snowpiercer is goofy, self-aware fun from end to end, as is The Host, but Mother and Memories of a Murder are both sensitive, interesting crime dramas.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 2:31 PM on June 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

posted by Chenko at 2:41 PM on June 21, 2016

My Sassy Girl (there's an American remake also, but the Korean is better)
Welcome to Dongmakgol

Love both of those movies.
posted by danceswithlight at 2:49 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Living in Korea, and having a Korean boyfriend, I see a lot of Korean movies. Though, with the caveat that I usually see them in the theater without subtitles and my Korean isn't THAT good. So keep in mind that there's a 50% chance that these movies are just as good or better with subtitles and a 50% chance that they were much better with the story I made up. Understandably, they all have pretty strong visual storytelling.
For gritty urban ones, the last two I really enjoyed were Veteran (which is stretching the gritty thing. it's got a strong comedic bent). As a side note, Hwang Jeong Min has had a string of strong movies recently. I enjoyed Himalaya, though not enough to recommend, and my boyfriend and all the reviews I've read have indicated that The Wailing was good. Also, Inside Men came out last year and it was REALLY popular. I don't know as I can recommend the three hour version over original theatrical release. My boyfriend said the longer one was better, but tbh, they were essentially the same to me. They really do some nice light comedy/mystery deals here. Some of my favorites (besides Veteran which is a little heavier) A Violent Prosecutor (Also with Hwang Jeong Min actually... but coming from Erie, the Pennsylvania stuff was killing my boyfriend and I) and The Advocate: A Missing Body.
I really liked Assassination about the Japanese occupation. On a similar bent, my boyfriend really enjoyed Dongju, about a famous poet during the Japanese occupation. And I can't QUITE recommend it because I thought it was a little ham-fisted, but Spirits' Homecoming had a huge impact here (My facebook newsfeed was pictures of tickets and ㅠㅠ (The Korean crying emoji) for days) and it's one of the only films I've seen that dealt with the Comfort Women issue. The movie is graphic and moving. I understood why all my Korean friends were crying, but while watching I just felt manipulated. On a related note, if you want to watch a movie that will make you cry, no one has recommended Silenced yet, and that was a tears down my face for hours movie.
posted by FakePalindrome at 4:54 PM on June 21, 2016

The Beauty Inside!
posted by Sassyfras at 5:46 PM on June 21, 2016

I loved Welcome to Dongmakgol. I'm A Cyborg But That's OK was intensely goofy but had moments of real sweetness.
posted by jackbishop at 7:09 PM on June 21, 2016

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