5. THE WARRIOR (2001)
Directed By: Sung-su Kim
Starring: Woo-sung Jung, Ziyi Zhang, Sung-kee Ahn
Plot: In 1375 China a group of exiled warriors battle to save and then protect a Chinese Ming princess from Mongolian troops with the hope to get a ship home.
This relatively unheard of film is a true action epic masterpiece that will cater to fans of films such as BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR. The scenery is breathtaking and begs for a blu-ray release. The action is brutal, intense, and well choreographed. This film has some of the best scenes with a bow and arrow I’ve ever seen. The characters are engaging and you will truly be rooting for some as they are trying to get home. Don’t let the long run time scare you either because this movie runs at a fluid pace and will have your attention throughout. I will never understand why this movie was never released commercially in the states and it comes highly recommended by anyone looking for a beautiful action epic.
4. THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (2010)
Directed By: Jeong-beom Lee
Starring: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, Hyo-seo Kim
Plot: A quiet pawnshop owner with a mysterious past gets thrown into a world of violence and crime when a little girl that lives next door to him gets kidnapped after her mother’s murder. The man’s past slowly becomes revealed as he hunts down the people responsible for kidnapping the little girl and he will stop at nothing to get her back.
If you are a fan of revenge tales you should definitely give THE MAN FROM NOWHERE a shot. This movie got a lot of press for being one of the biggest films in Korea in 2010 and deservedly so. While the story is not completely original, it does grab your attention from the get go and never lets up until the absolutely intense finale. The pacing is spot on revealing the history of our main character as he stops at nothing to save an innocent little girl. There is a line in this movie that gets my favorite quote of the year award and matches Liam Neeson’s phone chat in the film TAKEN. THE MAN FROM NOWHERE also boasts some of the most memorable action sequences in a movie I have seen in years. The main character is simply a bad ass with nothing to lose. Watch this film for its cool style, awesome action sequences, fun characters, and amazing finale. So cool.
3. THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (2008)
Directed By: Jee-woon Kim
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung
Plot: This is a wild western story set in 1930’s Manchuria about three strangers (a bounty hunter, an assassin, and a bumbling thief) who are all chasing a stolen treasure map in pursuit of the fortunes it will lead to. Besides double crossing one another, the three are constantly being pursued my the Japanese army, Chinese bandits, and a whole lot of gangsters.
This film is an absolute blast to watch. It’s an action western with awesome characters, some intense action scenes and some seriously cool set pieces. This film is all about action and style. The action starts right from the get go and never lets up. Everything from an awesome train heist to some fun action packed fight scenes and chases makes this one to see! The three main leads all offer up some good moments and their final battle is something to behold. THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD is a unique and stylish action western that is fun, bad ass and full of memorable moments and characters.
2. THE HOST (2006)
Directed By: Joon-ho Bong
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park
Plot: A large monster emerges from Seoul’s Han River and begins to terrorize the surrounding onlookers. The mysterious monster soon grabs a young girl and her eccentric family sets off to recover her.
I really do love a good monster movie and THE HOST has to be one of my favorites of all time even rivaling JAWS and CLOVERFIELD. The monster design in this one is top notch and it is an absolute blast watching this thing leap out of the water and kick some ass! The sweet monster in THE HOST is accompanied by one of my favorite film families of all time. They are perfectly eccentric and and a blast to watch as their life is changed forever by the random assault of the mysterious beast. The action is intense, the characters are a joy to watch, and the effects are sweet. If you are a fan of monsters, action, and comedy then this movie is surely a must see.
1. OLDBOY (2003)
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang
Plot: An ordinary businessman named Oh Dae-su is abducted and locked up in a strange room for 15 years without any warning or explanation. One day he is unexpectedly freed and must discover the identity of who imprisoned him in order to seek revenge and unravel the mystery of his abduction. Being locked up was only the beginning.
If I could only recommend one movie from this list OLDBOY would surely be my choice and it even ranks as one of my favorite movies of all time. This is a dark and twisted film that is wonderfully directed and has perfect pacing. The mysteries of this film unravel and we watch as a man who has been kept in a room for 15 years without explanation is released into the world again. The movie would be nothing without the fantastic acting ability of Min-sik Choi who carries this film and makes it something special. Watching his character unravel is truly a sight to behold. OLDBOY also features one of the greatest fight sequences ever that includes a beautiful long take that is unmatched. This film rocks and I would highly recommend it to anyone who appreciated a good movie.