Although Korean Grindhouse began in 2007, the blog didn't kick into full gear until 2008 during which I saw 69 Korean movies! While only a few on this list are current releases, all but one were new to me which is all the qualification they needed. Without further ado, my Top 10.
1. Musa - The Warriors: Generally I like my violence in a suit with shiny shoes. Musa expanded my wardrobe. An epic set in the 14th century, this costume drama put its battles in robes and rags. I loved every minute of it.
2. Le Grand Chef: Did I once say Korea and comedy were oxmorons? Oops! I guess I needed to see Spygirl, and even moreso Le Grand Chef, a Capraesque masterpiece about a country cook who takes on some cheating city slickers to right the family name.
3. Bad Guy: Seven Kim Ki-duk movies in one year is a good thing and frankly, The Isle and Spring, Summer... could just as easily be on this list. Neither would rank as high as Bad Guy though, a brutal fable about prostitution, sex, class and power.
4. Public Enemy: My favorite Korean flicks are the noirs. My favorite noir this year was the original Public Enemy, a snazzy cop thriller that rightfully started a franchise and established Sol Kyung-gu and Lee Sung-jae as the ultimate cop-crook duo.
5. A Bittersweet Life: Hot on Public Enemy's heels is Kim Ji-woon's jopok fantasy in which an obedient thug's first rebellious (if charitable) gesture sets off a string of terrifying acts of vengeance.
6. Oasis: As far as I'm concerned, the greatest romances are tragedies. (What a queen!) Could you get one more problematic than this one between an emotionally backward guy and a severely disabled girl?
7. The Soul Guardians: K-horror is represented by this fright flick rich with Catholic imagery. Nothing's scarier than messing with the devil and Park Kwang-chun's visually lush film suggests there's little as beautiful either.
8. Terror Taxi: Weird for weirdness' sake is underrated. And there's plenty of utter strangeness here in this surreal depiction of a purgatory populated by amoral cabbies killed during their last shifts as living souls.
9. Stray Bullet: It's hard to find old Korean movies on DVD. This neorealist parable about a doomed Everyman makes you wish there were more out there. It's Seoul's answer to Umberto D. -- just as heartwrenching with perhaps a bit more grit.
10. Hera Purple: Soft porn on a top ten list? Well, why the hell not. This sexploitation flick about a libidinous woman possessed by a vengeful goddess is a total crack-up. The cast is pretty hot, too.