CLASSIC FILM REVIEWS

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Director: Lee Chang-dong

Genre:  Drama

 

A reverse chronology plunge into the defining life events of a desperately broken man  

 

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Director: Shin Sang-ok

Genre: Supernatural horror

 

Korean folktale imagined in a melodramatic horror where supernatural forces drive a savage revenge mission   

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DirectorHa Gil-jong 

Genre:  Comedy-Drama

 

Youthful gaiety gives way to existential angst in this coming-of-age classic set during Korea’s military dictatorship  

 

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THE MARCH OF FOOLS
(1975)
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DirectorHan Hyung-mo 

Genre: Romantic melodrama

This 1950s melodrama charts a wife’s taste of independence during the backdrop of the increasing Westernisation of Korea 

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MADAME FREEDOM
(1956)
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DirectorLee Jang-ho

Genre: Drama

 

A visually stunning meditation on grief and its ability to follow us anywhere, as a widower travels to his dead wife’s home

 

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DirectorNa Hong-jin 

Genre: Supernatural horror

Na Hong-jin’s supernatural horror charts superstition and evil in rural Korea as it builds to a chilling climax 

 

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THE WAILING
(2016)
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Director:  Park Chan-wook

Genre: Romantic comedy

 

Offbeat mental hospital rom-com gives Director Park an ideal palette to paint another stylish and bizarre cult classic  

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DirectorKim Ki-duk 

Genre: Drama

Kim Ki-duk's strange and brutal mediation on the absences of a motherly figure set in the desperate backstreets of Seoul  

 

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PIETA
(2012)
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Director:  Park Chan-wook

Genre: Drama

 

Smart, sexy, stylish and surprising, a period masterpiece on a con-job gone awry    

 

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DirectorKim Ki-duk

Genre: Drama

Tranquil beauty combines with a lingering sense of doom in a portrait of human nature and the consequences of actions    

 

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Director:  Bong Joon-ho

Genre: Crime drama

Bong Joon-ho's first masterpiece is a rural crime mystery about the obsession of the detectives and their fear of failure   

 

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Director:  Yu Hyun-mok

Genre: Drama

The desperation of post-war Korea seen through the eyes of two brothers trapped in a powder keg of bleakness  

 

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Director:  Im Chan-sang

Genre: Comedy-Drama

Funny, surprising and poignant, Song Kang-ho excels as the naive barber in a politically unstable Korea  

 

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Director:  Park Chan-wook

Genre: Drama-Horror

Park Chan-wook's twisted vampire love story is a multi-faceted view of religion, lust
and consequence  

 

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Director:  July Jung

Genre: Drama

This low-budget, big issue tackling directorial debut takes on child abuse and homophobia with superb lead performances 

 

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Director:  Yoon Jong-bin 

Genre: Spy drama 

Slick spy thriller offers tension-filled view of North-South nuclear tensions during
the 1990s

 

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Director: Bae Yong-kyun

Genre: Drama

A meditation on Zen principles, Bae Yong-kyun frames the beauty of the wilderness in the search for human meaning 

 

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Director: Lee Joon-ik 

Genre: Drama

Harrowing and immeasurably powerful, an horrific attack brings a disjointed family together  

 

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Director: Yeon Sang-ho 

Genre: Action-Horror

Rapid-hunt zombies terrorise desperate train passengers in an action-horror mash-up filled with social commentary

 

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Director: Im Sang-soo 

Genre: Drama 

This stylish retelling of Kim
Ki-young's classic focuses on
the structures of power and
the privilege of Korea’s wealthy 

 

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Director: Hong Sang-soo 

Genre: Drama 

An intriguing examination of the fate of a potential couple’s romantic liaison over the course of a few soju-soaked hours 

 

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Director: Kim Ki-duk 
Genre: Drama 

The tale of a North Korean fisherman who floats into the South and is at the mercy of a new form of state control  

 

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Director: Kim Jee-woon 

Genre: Horror-Drama 

An atmospheric, psychological horror which offers a subtle and dread-building reimagining of an often-told Korean folktale  

 

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Director: Lee Chang-dong 

Genre: Drama-Thriller

Lee Chang-dong adds thriller elements to his slow-burn character studies, producing something truly breathtaking  

 

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Director: Kim Yong-gyun 

Genre: Horror

Atmospheric and stylish horror uses the cursed item trope
to deliver a tale of morality
and revenge  

 

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Director: Song Il-gon

Genre: Mystery-Horror

A mysterious film on the power of the subconscious that leaves the minds of the characters and audience equally disorientated  

 

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Director: Kim Jee-woon

Genre: Black comedy

Dark comedy servers up hilarity and horror with a killer cast
and crew of future Korean cinema stars 

 

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Director: Woo Min-ho 

Genre: Crime-Drama 

The brilliance of Song Kang-ho holds together a familiar tale
of the rise and fall of a 1970s drug lord 

 

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Director: Park Chan-wook

Genre: Action-Thriller

A masterpiece of stylised action and a visceral stomach-churn
of ultra-violence that leaves
you utterly breathless 

 

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Director: Hur Jin-ho 

Genre: Romance-Drama 

A jovial photographer receives a terminal diagnosis and tries to contain his agitation at this fate as a new romance blossoms 

 

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Director: Im Kwon-taek

Genre: Drama-Musical 

A melancholy tale about traditional musical storytelling Pansori and a family tortured by their father’s obsession 

 

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Director: Kim Sang-jin 

Genre: Crime-Comedy

Hammy and daft but so much fun it does not matter, this cult classic from the 90s is the ultimate guilty pleasure 

 

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Director: Park Ki-hyung

Genre: Supernatural horror

The film which launched modern K-Horror, this is a creepy and atmospheric ghost story at a Korean high school

 

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Director: Kang Je-gyu

Genre: Action-Thriller

Korea’s first ever big budget blockbuster is a star-studded North vs South high-octane action thriller 

 

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Director: Hong Sang-soo

Genre: Drama

Hong Sang-soo’s debut feature
is a pithy story of fidelity and fulfilment told across four vexed and disillusioned characters 

 

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Directors: Kim Tae-yong & Min Kyu-dong

Genre: Supernatural horror

Whispering Corridors sequel surpasses its original with a more stylish and refined return to this high school ghost story 

 

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Director: Im Kwon-taek 

Genre: Crime-Drama

A feast of fist-fights as a homeless scrapper rises to the top of a gang as local Korean-Japanese tensions rise

 

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Director: Park Chul-soo  

Genre: Drama-Thriller

Two obsessive compulsive neighbours collide over their opposing food manias in this gripping psychological thriller 

 

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Director: Park Kwang-su

Genre: Drama

A bleak but powerful biopic of the 22-year old who ended his life through self-immolation protesting for workers’ rights 

 

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Director: Lee Myung-se 

Genre: Action-Crime 

An over-stylised action crime outing that still provides thrills as an obsessive detective chases an elusive killer 

 

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Director: Kim Jee-woon 

Genre: Crime-Drama

A stylish revenge thriller about honour and tragedy featuring a pulsating lead performance from Lee Byung-hun 

 

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Director: Kwon Oh-kwang

Genre: Black comedy

The bizarre but tender story of a man turning into a fish after a clinical trial mishap and his fight for acceptance and peace

 

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Director: Jang Joon-hwan 

Genre: Comedy-Sci-fi

Often disturbing, regularly hilarious and always beautifully crafted, a young man tries to stop an alien invasion  

 

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Director: Lee Hyung-gon

Genre: Comedy-Musical

Korean folktale usually ripe for horror is given an oddball musical comedy makeover as a family of foxes hunt humans  

 

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Director: Lee Hae-jun 

Genre: Comedy-Drama

A man becomes a castaway on a deserted island in this hilarious, touching and stunning off-beat masterpiece  

 

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Director: Na Hong-jin 

Genre: Thriller

Dark, nihilistic and often exasperating, a pimp races to find a missing call-girl taken in by a monstrous serial killer  

 

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Director: Kim Ki-young 

Genre: Drama

Brimming with stunningly shot surrealism, a madcap tale which descends into fear-filled views of death, disease and resurrection  

 

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Director: Park Chan-wook 

Genre: Drama-Comedy

Black comedy, vengeful characters and wild rushes of violence, Trio is imperfect but has signature Director Park style

 

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Director: Park Chan-wook 

Genre: Crime-Romance

Park Chan-wook’s debut feature film is a soft jazz scored romantic drama with flickers of his flare but none of the thrills
 

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Director: Park Chan-wook 

Genre: Thriller

A touching buddy movie hidden in a military thriller as an incident on the North-South border threatens to spark a war

 

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Director: Park Chan-wook

Genre: Thriller

The first of the Vengeance Trilogy sees anti-heroes and villains chasing desperate paydays or bloody revenge  

 

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Director: Park Chan-wook

Genre: Thriller

The final Vengeance Trilogy film amplifies the stylised violence as a wrongly convicted woman hunts the true perpetrator

 

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Director: Park Chan-wook

Genre: Thriller

Park Chan-wook’s first English-language feature is a gorgeous and mesmerising gothic tale with coming-of-age confusion  

 

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Director: Ko Young-nam

Genre: Horror-Thriller

K-Horror classic twists the malicious housemaid format and brilliantly portrays a wife's decent into paranoid madness

 

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Director: Jeong Byeong-Gil 

Genre: Action-Thriller

Highly-stylised, this vivacious action thriller boasts some inexplicably brilliant set pieces and outlandish stunt work   

 

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Director: Bong Joon-ho

Genre: Horror-Action

Bong Joon-ho's monster movie is a rip-roaring horror-action-comedy mash-up with plenty of social commentary bite  

 

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Director: Kim Ki-young  

Genre: Horror-Thriller

Kim Ki-young's masterpiece on morality and lust remains a filmmaking tour de force of festering threat

 

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Director: Lee Yong-min

Genre: Horror-Thriller

Face-licking, cat-transforming weirdness, this B-movie-like horror is brimming with body count and nightmarish tones 

 

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Director: Yeon Sang-ho 

Genre: Animated-Drama

Bleak, angry and utterly uncompromising, an animated view of toxic hierarchical high schools in South Korea

 

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Director: Yim Pil-sung 

Genre: Fantasy-Horror 

This visually stunning horror flips its fairy tale origins to produce a more surprising traverse into the wood

 

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Director: Lee Man-hee  

Genre: Thriller-Horror

An eerie view of greed, guilt and lust as a doctor takes drastic measures to silence his pregnant mistress 

 

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Director: Bong Joon-ho  

Genre: Comedy-Drama

Director Bong's superb debut is a black comedy which blends slapstick with distressed dogs to produce a quirky social satire 

 

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Director: Jang Cheol-soo

Genre: Thriller

A mesmerising Seo Young-hee performance elevates this bloody revenge tale set on a claustrophobic, remote island 

 

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Directors: The Jung Brothers

Genre: Horror

This gorgeous and intelligent horror creepily weaves a trio of tales around notions of love, loss and death at a 1940s hospital

 

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Director: Kim Jee-woon 

Genre: Comedy-Drama

A much-maligned, failing banker finds meaning in the wrestling ring in this smartly shot comedy with plenty of heart 

 

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Director: Hong Sang-soo  

Genre: Drama-Romance

A metafiction on cinema and filmmaking, his sixth film has Hong at his self-deprecating
and anxiety-filled best 

 

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Director: Bong Joon-ho 

Genre: Crime-Thriller 

A murder mystery complicated by the monomaniacal love of a tenacious mother in Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece thriller 

 

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Director: Ryoo Seung-wan  

Genre: Drama 

Unique and superbly performed, a split narrative boxing tale which provides true emotional punch 

 

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Director: Kong Su-chang

Genre: Horror-War 

Dread-filled and exquisitely shot, the horrors of war provide the backdrop as a platoon march in a supernatural threat  

 

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Director: Kim Gwang-tae

Genre: Horror-Thriller 

A dark fairytale reimagining where deceit fuels revenge when a father and son happen upon a village after the Korean War 

 

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Director: Lee Yong-ju

Genre: Horror-Mystery

This claustrophobic horror turns down the gory and amplifies the chills as mystery grows around a missing teenager 

 

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Director: Yeon Sang-ho

Genre: Horror

Animated horror provides high-action drama but in a sea of ravaging zombies the uninfected are the true monsters

 

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Director: Kwon Cheol-hwi

Genre: Horror

A gore-filled take on the vengeful ghost trope, a wife returns from the grave to terrorise the maid who took her family 

 

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Director: Yoon Jong-chan

Genre: Horror-Mystery

The popular Korean domain of the apartment block provides the atmosphere of horror in this slow-burn mystery

 

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