The cops and robbers story is the same anywhere around the world!
Since Parasite's incredible popularity, moviegoers have sought more South Korean film production. Unbeknownst to many, South Korea is known for crafting gritty, honest films that accurately represent the harsh realities of life, especially crime movies.
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It's no secret that crime movies are the most engaging to watch. Maybe it's the way they blend the action with more severe issues like shady politics, racism, and criminal justice system corruption. Or perhaps it's merely the joy of watching criminal masterminds carry out their master plans. Either way, they all make for fascinating stories. Thus, these are some must-watch South Korean crime films of the 21st century you can stream right now.
The film was inspired by a true event about ten women who were raped and murdered in a small hamlet in Gyeonggi province, south of Seoul, between 1986 and 1991. Memories of Murder begins when the first victim is discovered, with an inquiry led by two inexperienced local detectives, Park Doo Man (Song Kang-Ho) and Cho Yong Koo (Kim Roi Ha) and a Seoul-based detective, Seo Tae Yoon, that leads nowhere.
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The film depicts the quickly changing political climate in South Korea in the late 80s when the country was emerging from a dictatorship, as seen by the ruthless tactics of the local police force. Despite the dark topic, the film manages to be darkly hilarious, and it cemented Bong Joon-ho's reputation as a director.
Oh Dae-su, a husband and father, is kidnapped and thrown in solitary confinement in a hotel-like prison on his daughter's birthday for unknown reasons. After 15 years, he is abruptly released following receiving a phone call from his captor. From then, it's a race against time to discover his tormentor and execute vengeance, as he only has one day to solve the puzzle.
Oldboy earned the Special Jury Prize at Cannes and a slew of other nominations and accolades worldwide, making it the first film that received Hollywood’s attention to the expanding Korean film industry.
Ja-Sung has found himself in the position of being the right-hand man of the organization's second in command, Jung Chung, after going undercover in South Korea's largest crime syndicate. When the boss is killed in a car accident, a power struggle breaks out among the gang. Ja-Sung, who hopes to leave his secret life behind and starts a new life with his pregnant wife, is forced to stay because his commanding chief wants to seize control of the organization.
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New World may appeal to Martin Scorsese's The Departed fans because director Park Hoon-Jung masterfully builds tension as the film progresses and manages to inject genuine emotional depth into the proceedings.
Cha Tae-Sik was a special forces agent until he was forcefully separated from his wife and child. He now works alone as a pawnshop proprietor, cuts off from the rest of the world, and seems uninterested in rejoining society. That is until he meets the young girl next door, whose mother has neglected her, and together they form a bond. When the mother makes the critical mistake of taking cocaine from a powerful crime lord, she and her daughter are kidnapped by gangsters, and it's up to Cha Tae-Sik to restore order.
The Man from Nowhere is bleak and deals with awful issues like child abuse, organ trafficking, drug addiction, kidnapping, and murder. However, it still manages to transmit many familial moments and frame it as a kinetic action thriller.
When serial killer Kyung-Chul murders Joo-Yun on a snowy night and dismembers her body, he has no idea that her father, a police officer, and her boyfriend, a National Intelligence Service secret agent, will go to any length to identify the perpetrator and bring him to justice.
Violent, upsetting, and starring two of Korea's greatest stars (Lee Byung Hun and Choi Min Sik), I Saw The Devil is another noteworthy South Korean entry in the revenge movie genre and well worth seeing for fans of these types of films.
Do-Joon is a meek and intellectually slow young man who is cared for by his overbearing mother. Do-Joon spends a lot of time with Jin-tae, whom the mother perceives as a negative influence. One day, the girl is found dead, and the police are led to Do-Joon by circumstantial evidence.
Featuring outstanding performances from the cast and brilliant direction from acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho, Mother is full of ambiguity and heartbreaking scenes. The film was nominated and won a slew of awards at several international film festivals the year it was released.
Ryu is a deaf person who works in a factory to support his sick sister, who requires a kidney transplant. He decides to obtain the kidney from a black organ-trading market, where he is swindled. He then kidnapped a wealthy girl for ransom at his most desperate time. However, things do not go as planned, and every character begins seeking vengeance on the other.
The first installment of Park Chan-Wook's critically acclaimed Vengeance Trilogy, the film can be challenging to sit through since it takes melancholy and bleakness to new heights.
In her early twenties, Lee Geum-Ja was convicted of kidnapping and murdering a small boy. She was given a 13-year sentence in prison, during which time she acquired a lot of new friends. She immediately begins planning her vengeance after being liberated.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, the final installment of Park Chan-Wook's critically praised Vengeance Trilogy, is perhaps the lightest entry in the series, but that doesn't mean the audiences will not receive some heavy subjects. Even though it lacks the distinctive intensity of the first two films, the film remains a stunning and unique art piece from a director at the peak of his game.
Jung-ho is a former cop who now works as a pimp. Two of his girls have recently vanished without paying their bills. With remaining detective skills, Jung-ho decides to investigate. After a long chase, he apprehends the culprit, but both men are caught and taken to the police station.
The Chaser was filmmaker Na Hong-jin's first film, and he delivered a suspenseful and intricately structured thrill ride in his debut. The film won many prizes in Korea, including Best Film and Best Director.
A serial murder case is being investigated in Cheonan, but it leads to nowhere. However, only Tae-suk, a police officer, recognizes that all the murders are the work of the same assailant and begins an inquiry. Later, a strange man attacks Dong-soo, a gang boss, and Tae-suk suspects that this man is the serial killer K, and Dong-soo becomes K’s only survivor.
Thanks to Park Se-Seung's clean and vivid cinematography, the movie is visually appealing and is drenched in neon and dramatic lighting. The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is, for the most part, a fast-paced, exciting crime-thriller with two fascinating leads.
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Jessie Nguyen is a List Writer at Collider. She is a Vietnamese writer, copywriter and blogger with an unhealthy obsession with cinema.
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