Korean dramas and movies can be very addictive. If you read people’s obsession stories on various blogs and forums, you’ll believe me, and you’ll understand me better if you see one for yourself. Beijing journalists, in the 1990s, saw what was coming and rightly named it Hallyu, The Wave. And the Chinese were so right. The tsunami grew and quickly spread across the world, captivating millions along the way, including me.
By now I’m an addict and an ardent fan. In the last one and half months, I have seen around 20 movies, with 25 more in my Netflix queue. Being an Indian, I can’t relate culturally nor do I understand the language but as a cine buff, it satiates my hunger for good cinema, these days even more than the ubiquitous Hollywood blockbusters. K-movies are bursting with superb acting, original stories, soulful background score, fantastic camera movement and eccentricities that make my movie watching more interesting. More than anything, the free spirit, the uninhibited essence and the pursuit of originality of every filmmaker fascinate me to a great extent!
In the last two decades, South Korea has produced some of the best movies in the world. It may not be comparable with Hollywood in terms of production values and glossy ‘marketing’ looks, but when it comes to displaying emotional range, connecting with the audience and focusing on quality, both stand on the same platform. If you’ve never watched a South Korean movie, here are some top picks from my movie bank that you could consider watching. There’s one from each genre.1 I SAW THE DEVIL is undoubtedly the goriest and one of the scariest movies I have ever seen (ghosts didn’t scare me as much). The movie is in flesh, bones and blood. Literally. The story is around a chase between a psychopath and a husband seeking avenge, and their killing spree. Ditto is Oldboy, a movie engorged with raw, revengeful and ruthless attacks. 2 CAST AWAY ON THE MOON is a unique take on ‘marooned in an island’ theme. What’s unique here is, the man is deserted on an island that’s within a stone’s throw from his home! The only thing that’s keeping him there is the great divide – the Han river, and his lack of swimming. The girl too is in a rare situation. She is agoraphobic and hardly ever leaves her room. What’s interesting to watch is the budding romance between them and how they finally meet. 3 THE KING AND THE CLOWN is a masterpiece and there’s no other movie quite like this. The story dates back to the 1500s and revolves around a tyrant and a bunch of jesters who entertain him with witty acts and crude humor. The mystery and the subtle hints around the complex love story between the three men are just marvelous. 4 SUNNY is a heart-warming movie about a bunch of high-school friends who reunite in their middle age. They then reminisce about the good old days and evaluate how they have fared since then. The movie has everything, lots of laughter, romance, pranks, tears, and pretty girls. 5 THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD is a stylish movie set in the city of Manchuria in 1940, and is about dusty roads, cowboys and their guns. The engaging treasure hunt and wacky gunfights are sure to give you many bangs for your buck.
There are many more movies etched in my good memory, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Penny Pinchers, Going by the book, The Big Swindle and Punch are some of them. Watch any one of these to understand why people don’t mind drowning in The Wave!