December 31, 2008

The Best Korean Movies of 2008 (Sort of)

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.


  1. I can't believe your blog does not have a small but totally committed audience. The writing is so good! I want to see all of these movies. I might too.

  2. Feed the myth and watch the movies!

  3. any idea where u can get a torrent for public enemy. i've searched high and low and still no closer for a look at this little beauty. thx

  4. Netflix actually has Public Enemy. You can also buy it via Amazon.

  5. I would also like to recommend

    Its an excellent shop in Seoul, and they ship international. You can find any Korean movie you want with english subs. Prices are a little bit more than if you buy them at regular DVS shops in Seoul, but then again at SeoulSelection you can search titles by their english names and also...they ship worldwide =)

  6. I'll have to check that out.

  7. You are the man thank you for this information..Bad Guy should be first..just kidding thanks again...