This year I deliberately went back to what drew me to Korean movies in the first place: Crime pics! This strategy resulted in one of the strongest top ten lists I've had since I started the blog. It also meant that there were a number of thrillers I would've probably included in years past but simply didn't make the cut this time around Hwayi, The Divine Move, Traffickers, The Target. But hey, end-of-year lists have no mercy.
1. Rough Cut: Jang Jun's pulpy film about a movie thug (Kang Ji-hwan) who enlists a real-life thug (So Ji-seob) to be his co-star made me deliriously happy.
2. Monster: Every year, I see at least one amazing serial killer movie out of South Korea. This year, Monster was IT.
3. A Good Lawyer's Wife: This disenchanted couple (the oh-so-good Moon So-ri and Hwang Jeong-min) is about to find their malaise replaced by tragedy.
4. The Admiral: Though it doesn't have the imperialism of Henry V, this nautical war pic still reminds me of Shakespeare's rousing history.
5. The Hypnotized: An electric Kim Nan-hee helms this kooky noir that's likely one of the most visually mesmerizing Korean movies I've ever seen.
6. Running Turtle: Kim Yun-seok is like a poor man's Song Kang-ho and this heart-accelerating flick proves that that's a wonderful thing to be.
7. Crocodile: Kim Ki-duk's directorial debut shows a world-class artist launching his career with a gritty, upsetting mini-masterpiece about the disenfranchised.
8. Bloody Tie: The best of the B-movies: Hammy acting, sordid script and a blaxploitation-worthy soundtrack.
9. Madonna: How many ways can society oppress an economically challenged woman? Director Shin Su-won counts the ways in this existential mystery.
10. End of Animal: Low-budget sci-fi + apocalyptic storyline + Christian imagery just makes sense and writer-director Jo Sung-hee knows it, God bless him.