Tuesday, January 12, 2021

[Rearview Mirror 2020] Korean Movies

In 2020 I watched 54 Korean films. Majority of them (48) was experienced in the lovely company of my twitter friend: Mexochi. Below you can find the list of them, some with short info whether it's worth seeing or not. Also, I don't care about spoiler-phobic feelings, so yes, there are spoilers.

Svaha marks the turning point for me, because after this movie I pledged my love and loyalty to Park Jeong-min and his movies started to appear more often on the list. Among the movies listed here, there are good movies, not that good movies and Real. Which should be in a category of itself - a cacophony of things that should never have met. Unless alcohol is involved. Lots and lots of it. And LSD.
All opinions are subjective.

1. Tune In For Love (2019)
genre: romance, psychological, 
It was a very nice, a bit sad, a bit melancholic but also optimistic intro into 2020. Little did we know...
2. Extreme Job (2018)
genre: comedy, action, crime,
It was fun with all the hijinks and wannabe criminals.
3. Feng Shui (2018)
genre: sageuk, crime, 
I did not like it as much as I thought, but as a sageuk it lived to the genre's expectations, meaning - people died.

4. Very Ordinary Couple (2017)
genre: comedy, romance, drama, psychological,
It was a bit sad, even though sometimes sweet, tale of two people who want to be together but absolutely can't live with each other.
5. The Age of Blood (2017)
genre: sageuk, action, thriller, crime,
People died so yes, it was a good sageuk. Starring Jeong Haein as Korea's own immortal Highlander.
6. Midnight Runners (2017)
genre: comedy, action, crime,
It was fun, even though it could deal a blow in the face.
7. Little Forest (2018)
genre: psychological, food, drama,
Do not watch this movie on an empty stomach. It was an impressionistic view on one year from a woman's life at the remote village and her love for comforting food.
8. Like For Likes (2016)
genre: comedy, romance,
I guess it was OK, a movie about three stories and three sets of people.
9. Berlin File (2013)
genre: action, thriller, spy, psychological,
Remember "Highlander" from Age of Blood (if you don't maybe it's time to start taking these tests)? His next incarnation is the hero of the Berlin File. I am a simple girl - I like violence on screen, and I liked this movie too.
10. Casa Amor (2015)
genre: romance, comedy, explicit
A movie about the awakening of a female sexuality. Apparently it's OK when guys do it but not when women do. It has explicit scenes of the sexual nature after the main female character discovers the world of sex toys and starts testing them.
11. Warriors of the Dawn (2017)
genre: sageuk, battle, psychological, action,
People died. A lot. Bonus point: Kim Muyeol sang and that made this movie great.
12. Svaha (2019)
genre: thriller, crime, supernatural, horror, Park Jeongmin
Some curses, some blood, bla bla, Park Jeongmin is here.
13. Secretly Greatly (2013)
genre: heartbreak
Go and hug a cactus, movie. Sincerely.
14. Start Up (2019)
genre: comedy, crime, police, mob, Park Jeongmin
See, I can even tell what movies Park Jeongmin filmed in which year because of the hair :) 2019 was for blond. Anyway, it was a fun movie about two friends and one work in which Jeong Haein's character went (temporarily) to the dark side.
15. Time To Hunt (2020)
genre: action, science-fiction, post-apocalyptic, crime, psychological, Park Jeongmin
A movie about how one crook just after leaving the prison, got his 3 best friends killed along with countless other people.
16. Jesters: The Game Changers (2019)
genre: sageuk, comedy
Oh, this was fun, this was a lot of fun!
17. Moon Young (2015)
genre: psychological, drama, relationships, emptiness
A movie about the inability to form any relation.
18. Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (2019)
genre: psychological, drama, feminist, society, family
Whoah, I think I cursed the most while watching this movie and cultural differences aside, Kim Jiyoung is virtually every woman around the world.

19. The Dude in Me (2018)
genre: comedy, crime, action, detox after Kim Ji-young Born 1982
It was fun and cute movie about the body-swapping that occurred between the teenager (in this role most definitely not teen Jinyoung) and a mob boss. Hijinks ensue. Master slapper extraordinnaire is born.
20. Forgotten (2017)
genre:  crime, psychological, drama
This was heavy. And heartbreaking.
21. The King's Case Note (2017)
genre: sageuk, comedy, crime, action
You may ask: sageuk AND comedy? Another one? Yes, another one, although a bit heavy-handed and not as fun and light as The Jesters.
22. House of Hummingbird (2018)
genre: family, drama, psychological
Only for those who can watch family heavy stuff.
23. Illang (2018)
genre: science fiction, action, thriller, nonsense
This movie made no sense. But it has hot men doing something (I think), namely Kim Muyeol and Choi Minho dying. What Kang Dongwon was doing I have no idea.
24. Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead (2017)
genre: sageuk, action, comedy, supernatural, zombies, absurd
Everyone who had watched two previous installments about the not the most sane detective in Joseon knows that it is not so historically accurate movie. It's not even logically accurate. This is pure entertainment.
25. Watching (2019)
genre: crime, action, thriller,
A movie about a guy who wanted to make a snuff movie so bad he didn't know he was already starring in one.
26. After My Death (2018)
genre: highschool, psychological, drama, 
I hate movies telling the storyof the aftermath of a suicide.
27. Mood of the Day (2016)
genre: romance, comedy
Just a rom-com about two strangers meeting on a train and the chain this meeting brought. It was fluff and OK.
28. Monstrum (2018)
genre: sageuk, crime, supernatural, 
True-blood sageuk which means there's lot of blood. Oh, and a literal monster.
29. New Trial (2017)

genre: crime, legal, psychological, drama
I usually avoid legal dramas but this movie, despite the slow start and initial like-no like attitude towards the main lawyer, turned out to be a really nice one.

30. Taxi Driver (2017)

genre: historical, psychological, action, military, brutal,
It's based on real events and real people. The Massacre of Gwangju and that's enough said.
31. Sunset in My Hometown (2017)

genre: comedy, psychological, action, musical, Park Jeongmin
An aspiring hip-hop artist wants to make it in Seoul, but discover that the great happiness and fulfillment is elsewhere. Cliché? Of course, life is cliché too. The best ending credits, because I like such joyful dancing.

32. Peninsula (2020)

genre: zombie, action, post-apocalyptic
It takes place 4 years after that train that was going to Busan got zombiefied. Korean Peninsula is a wasteland of forgotten morals. It's a disjointed movie that doesn't know what it wants to be - a parable about humanity or a monster film a la Aliens. The only saving grace was Gu Gyohwan.
33. Keys to the Heart (2017)

genre: family, drama, comedy, sport, Park Jeongmin
I enjoyed this movie immensely - a heartwarming story about two brothers and a family. I may not be the fan of Lee Byeongheon but mf is a damn good actor.
34. #ALIVE (2020)
genre: action, horror, zombie
Well, as far as zombie movies go, this one was enjoyable and truthfully, it was quite easy to identify with the characters (who among us is not dreading the "no wifi" when the calamity strikes?).

35. Swing Kids (2018)

genre: war, comedy, drama, musical, heartbreak
Well, this was fun. Said not one watcher ever.
36. Rampant (2018)

genre: sageuk, zombie, action, horror
Pretty forgettable, to be honest. And I will say it - Hyeon Bin is NOT cut for sageuks.
37. Seondal: The Man Who Sells The River (2016)

genre: sageuk, comedy, action,  
Some people die, so it's a true sageuk, but overall a very pleasant watch.

38. Secret Zoo (2020)

genre: comedy, crime, drama,
Because the idea to pretend to be animals in the zoo seems like a brilliant one. 
39. Magician (2015)

genre: sageuk, drama, comedy, 
Godly Yoo does what Godly Yoo does best - emoting in sageuks. As far as historical accuracy goes - let's just pretend it's there somewhere. People die, so it can be certified Sageuk Fresh (Blood)
40. Dongju: Portrait of a Poet (2015)

genre: historical, biographical, drama, poetry, Park Jeongmin
Movie that makes all other sageuks green with envy because everyone dies here. Which isn't that hard to guess, given the biography of the main characters. Shot in black and white, it felt wonderfully done.

41. Real (2017)

genre: Real-istic
How do I even begin to describe Real? It's the universe of its own (and let it stay there). Imagine you are the psychology student who flunked the very first semester after trying to hypnotize your professors to give you A without taking exams. But instead of self-reflecting, you blame it on your other personality you have no idea about but sometimes wonder why are you so tired in the morning and who the hell put this monstrous bathtub in the middle of your room? And whenever Seong Dong-il appears on your screen in a drama, you find yourself mauling random gangsters in the halls of an abandoned smelter plant which is also a fancy nightclub with stroboscopic lights, eventually having sex. You never know. 
I think it's pretty rare to have every line spoken by a character completely without any connection to the previous or the next. It's just the epitome of randomness. It's randomness deified. 
One cannot describe Real.

42. Psychokinesis (2018)

genre: action, comedy, family, crime, supernatural, Park Jeongmin
One of the most unique superhero origin story I have ever seen. A funny movie with some poignant scenes reflecting the state of society and growing division between the strata.
43. Dark Figure of Crime (2018)

genre: action, crime, psychological, legal, drama
A cat-and-mouse game between the criminal and the detective, blurring the boundaries between a tip and leading astray.
44. Saem (2018)
genre: comedy, drama, life, romance
A man comes to the big city to find his first love. If this doesn't sound difficult add this: he's unable to recognize and remember faces. 
45. The Odd Family - Zombie On Sale (2019)

genre: comedy, romance, zombie, action, vegeterian-friendly
I wrote a review on this one. More details HERE.
46. The Flu (2013)

genre: catastrophic, epidemic, action, psychological, drama, family, Park Jeongmin ("you blink you lose"-long appearance)
Immigrants are saving the countries. Literally. I wonder, had COVID-19 been more virulent and fast-spreading with instant death, would we face the near collapse of the society as we know it? Tip: find yourself in the vicinity of Jang Hyuk.
47. Deliver Us From Evil (2020)

genre: action, crime, violence, Park Jeongmin
Even though some moments felt a bit out-of-place, I enjoyed it tremendously, overall. It's a violent movie, it's a bloody movie, and yet it's a hopeful movie. The relentless pursuit of a gangster after an assassin was damn entertaining.
48. Okay! Madame (2020)

genre: comedy, family, spy, crime, fun, action
In this absurd comedy we have spies from the North, hijacking a plane, mistaken identity, mistaken double identity, idols, Uhm Jung-hwa kicking ass and lots of fun if little sense. Perfect.

49. Ashfall (2019)

genre: spy, action, drama, catastrophic
In this absurd drama we have spies from the North, hijacking a car, mistaken identity, mistaken double identity, but sadly no Uhm Jung-hwa kicking ass (only Mount Baekdu kicked estimated ass-cubic-kilometers of ash that caused chaos on the Peninsula). However, it still made little sense and was entertaining enough to sit through. Sprayed with the usual pathos in catastrophic movies. Perfect. 
50. Forbidden Dream (2018)

genre: sageuk, historical, drama, friendship
People died, so it's certified Sageuk Fresh (Blood)™. A story about the friendship between King Sejong and the inventor Jang Yeong-sil.
51. Heungbu: The Revolutionist (2018)

genre: sageuk,storytelling, literature, drama, comedy, action,
Again, the recipient of Sageuk Fresh (Blood)™ certificate. The movie narrates the creation of the story about Heungbu and Nolbu - all through tumultuous events of the Joseon world. It also proves that stories are eternal and the brush is stronger than swords.
52. Trade Your Love (2019)

genre: romance, comedy, family, drama,
The movie is as vapid as the whole Valentine's Day. Two people agree to get married just as a cover to stop their families' nagging. For me the big plus of this movie was the fact how it ended - realistically in a way. 

53. Bori (2018)

genre: family, drama, comedy
I find it quite amazing that we started the year with a soft and warm movie and ended it with equally warm one. I thought this might be a sob-fest because it was about the family of 4 in which only their daughter, Bori, can hear and talk, so she facilitates the family's relations with the outside world. But it wasn't so. It was a great story about people, friendship, cherishing what we have, and family.
54. The Fortress (2017)
genre: sageuk, historical, war, psychological
You know what I like in Korean historicals? The fact that when they have Mongol, Manchu or Japanese forces and characters they speak their own languages. Because in US movies everyone speaks English. This one is about Namhansanseong - a fortress that became the last resort for King Injo when Manchu invaded. How it ended, we all know.

I hope maybe some of you can give few of these above a chance and enjoy. Like REALly watch some^^