Films

Korean Film Reviews

From zombies to a political revolution to taking down one of the biggest fraud cases, Trip to Busan, The Age of Shadows and Master are three Korean films that I had the opportunity to watch so far while being in Korea.

From late July to December, I have watched nine movies here in Korea in both English and Korean. Out of the nine, I had watched three Korean films. Here are my ratings and short reviews for the Korean films that I have watched.

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Train to Busan (부산행)
Starring: Gong Yoo, Jung Yumi and Ma Dongseok
Directed by: Yeon Sangho
Rating: 9/10
Understanding without subtitles: 8/10

Train to Busan was intense and a refreshing zombie movie. The film is about a workaholic and absentee father (Gong Yoo) who is trying to fulfill his daughter’s birthday wish by taking her to Busan to see her mother. But, on their way to Busan, a zombie infestation occurs without a known reason. I’ve made a post on this film already, so I won’t talk too much about it, but I highly recommend it. It quickly gained much attention here in Korea and worldwide understandably. The movie keeps your heart rate up and at times made me forget to breathe. I didn’t need to understand Korean to know what was going on. The film also has made a few cry at the end, so be warned.

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The Age of Shadows (밀정)
Starring: Gong Yoo, Song Kangho, Lee Byunghun and Han Jimin
Directed by: Kim Jeewoon
Rating: 7/10
Understanding without subtitles: 4/10 (Korean & Japanese)

This film, from what I understood, was about a resistance movement against the Japanese occupation in Korea during the 1920s. The movie is very political, but it also shows the pride and patriotism of the country through the eyes of a Korean-born Japanese officer (Song Kangho) who has to choose whether to be loyal to his native country or to the ones he works for. Betrayal, lies and scheming is prevalent throughout the film and relationships are tested. The acting and directing of the film was done really well. There are also moments where there are no dialogue that you have to rely on what you know and how the actors portray their emotions in that moment. There is never a dull moment in this film and is great for those who like historical, political, and action films. The Age of Shadows was a hard movie to follow since I didn’t understand Korean and there were some moments where my Korean friend didn’t understand why something was happening in the film, but I did because I was able to focus on the interactions between characters. It’s a film that you really have to pay attention to. I recommend watching this film, especially since it received so much acclaim, but watch it with subtitles if you are not fluent in Korean.

master_film_poster

Master (마스터)
Starring: Lee Byunghun, Gang Dongwon, Kim Woobin, Uhm Jiwon, Oh Dalsu, and Jin Kyung
Written and Directed by: Choi Uiseok
Rating: 7/10
Understanding without subtitles: 7/10 (There are parts later in the movie in English)

Right from the start, it is understood that this is a film about a massive fraud case and that President Jin (Lee Byunghun) is under criminal investigation for by the leader of the intellectual crime investigation team (Gang Dongwon). They use President Jin’s son (Kim Woobin) to try and gather hard evidence to incriminate him, but complications arise. President Jin is a very charming man to everyone and he pretends he cares a lot about the people. But, he is a very smart and terrifying man that cares more about money than anything else. He in the beginning seems like he cares about his family being united, but he doesn’t let anyone who betrays him stand in his way. It was interesting and fun to see Lee Byunghun play such a character and he even lowered his English speaking abilities to match the character while he was yet in another scheme abroad. Kim Woobin’s character was a mixture of funny, playful and serious as all of the other characters he has played, but it worked really well in this film. This was the first time I have seen Gang Dongwon in a film, since I hadn’t gotten around to seeing “Priest”, but after seeing him in this film, I want to see more of him. This is a fun movie to watch and something I know I will watch again when I am in the mood for this kind of film. It’s best to watch it with subtitles, because there are some moments where you will have an idea of what is happening, but you might be a little confused.

If you would like to watch the trailers for each of these movies to see if you would be interested in watching them, you can watch them below. Next week’s post will be the films in English that I have watched and movies that all of you (hopefully) have already seen.

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