Every year I do an annual Kollywood roundup during the last week of December. For all those who are waiting for the list, it will come tomorrow. From this year, I am starting with Korean movie recommendations for the past year. I love Korean movies and I think they need to be revered and honoured. My friends know that I am obsessed with Korean films. If you watch few of my recommendations this year, you will get hooked too.
Disclaimers before you read the list
1. I haven’t seen all the movies in 2013 as we have issues in getting good rips of Korean movies. In fact, couple of movies are in the list solely based on reviews.
2. You can only check these movies out on Torrent rips as they don’t get released in India.
3. Some movies might be hard to fathom with respect to violence and explicit scenes. Viewer discretion is advised.
4. I am not ranking any movies here, these are all equally good in their own respect
1. Secretly,Greatly (Eunmilhage Widaehage)
Based on a webtoon, this dark comedy action drama is directed by Jang Cheol-Soo (from the Kim Ki-Duk stable, he got an award for his debut Bedevilled and was asst.director in Spring,Summer…). Secretly Greatly is a movie about 3 North Korean Spies from the secret 5446 force. They are ordered to disguise as an idiot, aspiring rock singer and an exchange student. After couple of years of undercover, they get a order from their commander that changes their life. With Kim Soo-hyun, Park Ki-woong and Lee Hyun-woo in the lead, this movie starts like dark comedy and slowly moves in to the territory of vengeance and remorse. Lee Hyun Woo is brilliant as a young comrade who fights to save his captain. The end will wrench your heart and question the motives of war between both the countries.
2. The Berlin File (Berullin)
Let’s get over with North Korean spies. But this one is a fast paced thriller unlike the last one, where a North Korean spy is trying to save his life and his wife’s after exposure. Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan (known for his 2010 hit movie The Unjust), this movie has Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser, Yellow Sea), Han Suk-kyu and Ryoo Seung-bum in the lead. Like all the Korean thrillers, this is fast paced with twists and turns that will surprise you. Ryoo Seung interviewed many defectors from North Korea and the interviews were in to a documentary titled Spies.
3. How to Use Guys with Secret Tips aka A Manual on How to Use Men (Namja Sayongseolmyungseo)
The best part about Korean Comedies is that they are natural. They are mostly situational. Consider this movie where a lady in mid twenties who is underpaid and lacks social skills gets a video cassette titled “Manual on How to Use Men”. She starts using it and you will find out what happens next because of that video. Directed by a debutant Lee Won-suk, this fantasy satire is brilliant because of its lead Lee Si-young. Watch it for the comedy and sometimes the satire will pick your senses. Bonus trivia – Lee Si-young is an amateur boxer
4. Cold Eyes (Gamsijadeul)
The movie is a remake of 2007 Hong Kong film Eye in the Sky. It’s about a team of surveillance experts who analyze data and use manual observation to catch the culprits. The movie starts with a recruitment of a talented newbie meanwhile a bank is robbed through a meticulous heist. The surveillance team is given the job to track the robbers. Han Hyo-joo as the newbie shines with her naivety and talent while Sol Kyung-gu (Silmido) makes a perfect foil as her chief. If you want to watch a fast paced, no-nonsense thriller, this one is apt. The movie is co-directed by Jo Ui-seok & Kim Byung-seo.
5. Snowpiercer (Seolgungnyeolcha)
This one I wanted to watch the moment the trailer was out. I am yet to get the torrent rip (all of them are fakes as of now) but with Bong Joon Ho, the master creator who is known for Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother, you should not miss this movie. The movie is based on a French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob & Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochett. The story is set in a post apocalyptic future where the only survivors are in a long train that runs on a perpetual motion engine. Interesting? Check out the trailer, you would want to watch the movie now.
6. The Terror Live (Deo Tereo Raibeu)
The Terror Live is about a manic ambitious news anchorman who wants to monopolize a terrorist attack coverage. Sounds similar? When you watch the movie, you will know what I am talking about. Directed by Kim Byung-woo with Ha Jung-woo (the same guy from Berlin File) in the lead, this one questions the values of news anchors in a media crazy country. You will see a lot of connection with Indian media houses too. A must watch thriller
7. The Face Reader (Gwansang)
How about murder mystery in the 15th Century? That’s what you get in The Face Reader. This movie swept the Grand Bell Awards , the top awards of South Korea. Set in the times of Joseon Dynasty, it’s about a face reader who finds a murders and traitors for the King. He gets caught in the web of deceit, jealousy and vengeance inside the royal family. Directed by Han Jae-rim, with Song Kang-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host) in the lead, this movie is a visual treat.
8. Miracle in Cell No.7 (7beonbangui Seonmul)
If the Koreans can make you excited with their thriller, scare you with their horrors, they can also make you cry with their poignant portrayals. For all those who hail the likes of Thangameenkal and Deiva Thirumagal, go watch this brilliance. It’s about a mentally challenged man who has the same mental age as his 6 year old daughter. He is imprisoned on a false accusation and separated from his daughter. The inmates of the jail plot a daring plan for the reunion of father and daughter. Whether they succeed and what happens next is said in a funny but poignant way. The father-daughter duo is portrayed beautifully by Ryu Seung-ryong and Kal So-won. Park Shin-hye takes the adult role of the daughter as the movie travels through many years. Although illogical, the prison episode is hilarious while the father daughter life is heart wrenching. Directed by Lee Hwan-kyung (known for his sentimental movies like Champ, Lump of Sugar), this movie became the third highest grosser in the history of South Korean Cinema. Do you need any more reasons to watch this movie?
As I said already, this is a selection from a limited set of movies that I watched. But from today, you will see some Korean movie recommendations now and then. I think this is a good start