Best Korean Movies of 2019

April 07, 2020

2019 was an excellent year for the South Korean film industry. Mainstream movies and TV shows attracted overwhelming commercial success. Films like ‘Exit,’ ‘Parasite,’ and ‘extreme job’ thrived, and they received several essential films from around the world. It was important for Korea, especially considering that they have been doing poorly for a long time now. If you want to know the best Korean movies in 2019 to keep you entertained, we’ve got you covered. Here are some fantastic suggestions.

1. The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos

The action film swept away the Korean film industry by storm when it was released. The Korean action movie is filled with fight scenes and incredible comedy.

Plot roundup

A bus that is transferring the nation’s most notorious criminals has an accident, which leads to the prisoners escaping. To catch the escapees, the authorities gather some “bad guys” and create the investigation of a unique crime to carry out the highly classified project. We get to see how well the criminals will carry out the mission of catching felons in ‘The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos.’ Captain Oh Goo-Tak contacts the famous fighter Woong-Chul, a former cop, Go Yoo-Sung, and a con-artist Kwak No-Soon to create a team. Thanks to the new notorious members in the gang, they are stronger and can now catch the prisoners that escaped.

What I liked

The film had incredible action. We can attribute this to Don Lee because his movies are the top-notch best. While some parts might seem unrealistic, they are followed with great action sequences. Also, the film had several funny scenes. The arguments that Jang Ki-Yong had with and Ma Dong-Seok brings up many light moments that you will enjoy.

What I didn’t like

While the movie has fantastic action, the acting wasn’t that good. This was probably because there weren’t any elite actors and actresses in the show. Also, CGI made it worse.

2. A French Woman

“A French Woman” is a Kim-Hee-Jung’s ambiguous production, thus allowing us to experience everything first-hand. Thanks to the narration, we are as scared to trace the main character’s memories as much as she is.

Plot roundup

Mira is in her forties and has been residing in Paris for over twenty years. After divorcing her French husband, she decides to go back to Korea to re-unite with her old friends. As they are having a cheerful time at the bar, Mira goes to the washroom, and when the woman returns, the time has reversed to twenty years ago. It is not the day of her farewell party before she leaves for France. Before she figures out whether this is an illusion or not, Mira goes through a series of mystery.

What I liked

The cinematography of this film is impressive, making it one of the top Korean movies in 2019. The video connects several gaps of her psyche perfectly, which makes it seem like we are traveling through many channels and not getting a full grasp of the truth. It results in a well-crafted story that left me filled with all sorts of emotions. I also liked the editing because it kept the spirit of ambiguity intact.

What I didn’t like

It took a while for the characters to find their place, especially when the time is reversed.

3. Scattered Night

Divorce makes a big crack in families. In ‘Scattered Night’ we get to experience the trauma that children go through after the parents separate.

Plot roundup

The dad hasn’t been around the home that much recently. Finally, the parents decide to explain to the kids that they will no longer be living together. Instead of fighting for the children, the parents decide to allow them to determine who they wish to live with. It isn’t the regular divorce story you see in other films because the producers have produced it from the children’s perspective. Who will they decide to go with? Is it possible to separate kids that have lived together all their lives?

What I liked

It’s incredible how well the actors fit in their characters, which makes it seem like a real story. The shooting style used is also pretty simple. It’s like they use a handheld camera to follow the characters around their school and home life. The narrative unfolds gently, which makes it easy to follow. ‘Scattered Night’ is one of the best Korean movies 2019 because it sheds light on the effects of separation on kids, even when we think they don’t understand.

What I didn’t like

There is nothing I didn’t like about the film. I was probably busy getting emotional and all.

4. The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

Police officers, gangsters, and serial killers are familiar characters in Korean movies. ‘The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil’ uniquely blends them as it attempts to show how the gangster and cop can work together.

Plot roundup

From the title, you can guess the main characters in the story. On one mysterious rainy night, a serial killer attacks the leader of a gang. A police detective decides to capture this moment and use it as an opportunity to catch the serial killer. In the process, he enters an unholy agreement with a gang member. They pool resources together. The cop wants to solve the case while the gang member is after avenging his loss of status.

What I liked

The movie provided a fantastic viewing experience because of the testosterone-filled action scenes. The film draws heavily from trained action tropes, especially brawls between crowds of gangsters in suits. The choice of characters is nearly perfect, making it one of the most entertaining Korean action films I have ever watched.

What I didn’t like

Although the movie is entertaining, it fails to achieve the ‘classic’ status that would enable it to leave a lasting impression. There is nothing novel about the cop, the gangster, or even the serial killer that would make you remember them. The producers ought to have developed their characters more fully.

5. A Resistance

Many women-centered Korean films set during the Japanese occupation of Korea usually focus on the comfort of women during wartime. However, ‘A Resistance’ takes a different outlook. It depicts the struggle that YU Gwan-Sun went through during the war.

Plot roundup

Yu Gwan-sun is an icon in Korean’s history. She is widely celebrated for her refusal to name collaborators despite the threats to her life. ‘A Resistance’ tells the heroic story of a young woman who met her death at age 17. While the narrative has been acted four times before in Korean cinema, this time, it focuses on the Gwan’s beliefs. We get to see how she interacts with fellow prisoners and how she inspires sedition. The film’s producer does a fantastic job of humanizing the hero.

What I liked

It’s difficult not to love such a compelling story. The fact that it highlights the personal life of Gwan makes the film more exciting and inspiring. I liked the stylistic approach of shooting that begins in black and white, which is usually reserved for flashbacks. The movie focused on the last one and a half years into the heroine’s life thus explored it thoroughly. It is undoubtedly one of the best Korean movies.

What I didn’t like

The biggest challenge is that the characters weren’t as impressive as they should have been. Since many of the characters in cell No.8 were female independence fighters, I would have expected them to do more than support the main character.

6. Exit

Do you know that rock climbing is an essential skill that can save you in an urban disaster? ‘Exit’ is a light-hearted disaster flick that is played in modern Seoul.

Plot roundup

Many viewers were drawn to the play because of the lead actress Yoona. We are used to seeing her act emotional role like ‘Architecture 101’, so this one was a first. The scene is set in Yong-Nam’s birthday celebration party, where the family members are picked up by helicopters. Unfortunately, Yong-man is trapped at the rooftop together with Eui-Ju. He decided to put his rock climbing skills to test. He hops from one obstacle to another, hoping that he will catch the attention of helicopters passing nearby as they rescue other people. Like most budget films, the plot is entirely predictable, but the action scenes counterbalance this shortcoming. You are likely to stay at the edge of your scene during this film.

What I liked

I loved how ‘Exit’ managed to set itself apart from regular American disasters by keeping the plot light-hearted. It included some excellent humor found in many Korean films. It was also great to see how well the movie managed to infuse the digital world into the film because social media comes to their rescue.

What I didn’t like

The overacting of the cast is a bit too much. Although its departure from realistic acting infused some light moment into an otherwise devastating film, the scenes were overdone.

7. Birthday

There is a lot to learn from trauma. ‘Birthday’ takes us into the lives of a family that is going through a difficult phase after losing a family member.

Plot roundup

Handling tragedy is often a long-term process that you cannot fix overnight. Talking about misfortune and taking the time to remember it is part of the healing journey. The film starts in a rather indirect way. There is no direct mention of the late brother. Instead of focusing on tragedy, the first scene highlights how the protagonists are struggling to rebuild trust. It starts with Soon-Nam giving divorce paperwork to Jung-il, thus setting up viewers for the upcoming low-key family dramas. We start understanding the family relations when Su-ho’s birthday approaches and trauma opens up.

What I liked

The movie gives us an insight into not only how the family manages grief, but also how society treats them. Pain is something many people have experienced, thus making this movie relevant. Society needs to understand the sorrow that people go through. Everything about the film was emotional, and even the tiniest act had a meaning attached to it. The acting was on point, as all the actors fitted into their roles perfectly. The dynamics between the character and the development of the relationship is interesting to follow.

What I didn’t like

The lead actors are playing the role of grieving parents that are mourning their son that died after sinking. While the film has done a great job of showing us how the couple handles grief, they haven’t highlighted the aftermath of a disaster.

8. The House of Us

‘The House of Us’ is one of the top Korean movies in 2019. The plot explores family dynamics, both inside and out.

Plot roundup

The movie starts on a close-up of a girl’s face – Ha-na. The 12-year old is worried because her parents are constantly fighting. She hates that they are always relocating. It is summertime, and Ha-na meets two other girls. There is the seven-year-old Yoojin and the nine-year-old Yoomi. Before she notices, Ha-na is playing the role of an older sister, and now she is distracted from her efforts to re-uniting her warring parents. The trio experiences moments of adventure and imagination, from visiting the seaside to playing tricks on the landlady. Their escapades lead to episodes of glimmerings of maturity.

What I liked

At the beginning of the film, Ha-na is struggling because her family life isn’t flawless. It was heart-warming to see how she finds happiness after meeting her new friends. She is happy to cook for the two friends and play the role of a mum to them. Finally, she has the opportunity of finding love beyond her family since it is breaking into pieces. I was happy to watch this transformation as she grows from a sad teenage girl to a happy one.

What I didn’t like

Although the plot shows us that we can find love and care outside the familiar places, it would have been best if Ha-na’s family would reunite. So, my major problem was with the plot. Otherwise, the acting was great.

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