South Korean films deserving of the spotlight
After the well-deserved success of Parasite, people might be looking to check out more South Korean films. The following movies are some of the best South Korea has to offer.
The Host (2006)
From Bong Joon-Ho, director of Parasite, comes this creature-feature that actually has some depth to it. The Host stars Song Kang-Ho (also from Parasite) as a dysfunctional father who must save his daughter from a deformed fish monster that has captured her. While this premise might sound goofy, Bong Joon-Ho has actually crafted a monster movie that criticizes the U.S. government’s environmental mistreatment. Although the monster effects are a bit dated, the film is still a blast to watch.
Another great South Korean director to check out is Park Chan-Wook. His film Oldboy is one of the best action revenge films. The film follows Oh Dae-Su, played by Choi Min-Sik, who is kidnapped and held captive in a room by himself for 15 years. When he gets out, he determines to find out who put him in that room and why. Choi Min-Sik’s performance as a character who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of revenge is mesmerizing. The film also has one of the best fight scenes ever put on film, all thanks to Park Chan-Wook’s excellent directing.
The Handmaiden (2006)
One other exceptional film from Park Chan-Wook is The Handmaiden. An erotic psychological thriller, the film follows young con-woman, Sook-hee, who gets a job as a maid to the heiress Lady Hideko in order to trick her out of her inheritance. But to say any more about the plot would spoil the fun! Go into this film expecting a delightfully twisted story that benefits from Park Chan-Wook’s superb style.
I Saw the Devil (2011)
From director Kim Jee-Woon comes a brutal cat-and-mouse revenge story that also questions the nature of vengeance itself. I Saw the Devil follows intelligence agent Kim Jee-Woon on his quest for revenge against the man who killed his fiancé. Choi Min-Sik (from Oldboy) plays the ruthless serial killer who toys with Jee-Woon at every turn. The film serves as an examination into whether or not revenge is worth it in the end to those enacting it. And it is brutal in its pursuit of doing so.
Directed by Lee Chang-Dong, Burning is best described as a slow-burn character study mystery. It follows a friendship between a young man, Jong-Su, and his friend, Hae-Mi. When Hae-Mi’s friend Ben (played by Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead) joins the mix, things start to get a bit strange. This movie is best going into not knowing much about it. All that can be said is that it is a tense, engrossing experience that lingers well after it has finished.
Each of these films is a masterpiece in their own way, and they deserve just as much recognition as Parasite. The world of South Korean cinema is one worth exploring, so check one of these films out to get started.
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