Mother (2009)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller














From star director of The Host and Memories of Murder, Joon-ho Bong, comes another masterpiece of Korean drama - Mother (Madeo). Multiple award winner, for best direction, best lead performance by veteran Korean actress Hye-ja Kim, and even official South Korean submission for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.

A mother (Hye-ja Kim) and her son (Bin Won) live in small Korean city. She's widow with no support left with her mentally challenged son who has severe aggression problems. Struggling to get by, she is illegally performing acupuncture procedures on local woman. One day a body of murdered local school girl is found on rooftop in the middle of town.

Local police in hurry, based on circumstantial evidence arrest her son, soon confession is forced out of him, and he is convicted of murder and faces to spend rest of his life in mental hospital. Mother however knows that her son couldn't perform such cruel act, and sets to find the real culprit on her own, causing quite a commotion in this ,as it appears, not so calm city. She is set to prove her son's innocence by any means necessary. 

As with Memories of Murder Joon-ho Bong takes another look into mentality of small towns. He skillfully plays with such forces as maternal love, commitment to the cause of family. Filled with mystery and tension this movie doesn't let it's grip till the moment credits roll.


If you have seen excellent crime thriller The Man from Nowhere you might (or might not) recognize young Korean superstar Bin Won, whose role there of hardened special forces agent is complete antithesis of his portrayal of Mother's son in this movie.

Currently director Joon-ho Bong is working on his Hollywood debut, science fiction thriller Snow Piercer, set to be released in October, 2013.

Powerful performance by lead actress, beautiful cinematography, exceptional directing, twists here and there, and long lasting emotional residue. What more is needed for great drama? Must see.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
Blu-ray | DVD (UK) from YesAsia

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Genre: Action, Drama, War














In the end of 2003 Silmido, a movie about South and North relationships, shook the South Korean box office, but not giving it even a few month of rest, another bomb was dropped upon South Korean viewers in early 2004, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo), similarly themed film, directed by Je-kyu Kang of his Shiri fame, that beat all the prior set records. One third of South Korea population attended cinema to watch this film according to number of admissions.

It's 1950, two brothers, Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) and eldest Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) are spending ordinary time in streets of Seoul, living together with their mother and fiance of Jin-tae - Young-shin Kim (Eun-ju Lee). Peaceful life ends when North invades, and family is forced to leave their homes. Due to some unlucky circumstances both brothers found themselves on a train that's heading towards the battlefield. Cruel realities of war now become part of them.

Revisiting events set almost exactly 50 years in past, director managed to grab attention of Korean public with this epic war drama. Often called Korean Saving Private Ryan, and not without a reason, they both share that gruesome depiction of war, cruelty served by both sides and magnitude in which the scale of the war is portrayed, be it special effects or actor performances. Even the visual styles of the movie are really similar.
But most importantly they share similar, personal stories of the people involved. Comparable even in the way it is presented in the movie, starting with nowadays, showing survivors who share their memories and tell their stories, followed by dive in the past, where these memories are being replayed.

Films original Korean titles contains the names of flags of both neighboring countries, as a symbolic gesture towards their once shared unity.

Its should be mentioned that this movie is one of the final works of beautiful and talented actress Eun-ju Lee, who sadly committed suicide year after this film was released.

Overall, a powerful and emotionally lasting war drama. Highly recommended.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
DVD from YesAsia

Guns and Talks (2001)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama














Guns and Talks (Killerdeului suda) is action comedy from 2001, directed and written by Jin Jang, who also produced and wrote Welcome to Dongmakgol.

Story about freshly formed group of contract killers in Seoul, who are just starting to make their own name in the business. They complete the task of killing in any way client requests to. This group consists of two brothers, Sang-yeon (Hyeon-jun Shin) and Ha-yeon (Bin Won), and two of their friends Jae-yeong (Jae-yeong Jeong)  and Jung-woo (Ha-kyun Shin).

Business is going well, until one day they have to do a high risk job, while discovering that someones onto them.

While it's a movie about killers, it's more of a light comedy about inner relationships in the group with action parts, and some drama mixed in. Whats great is that you can observe still young actors who few years later would become some of the top stars in Korea, like Bin Won, known for The Man from Nowhere and Mother for whom Guns and Talks was debut movie.

Entertaining flick thats worth a watch. 

DVD from Amazon

The Man From Nowhere (2010)


Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller











The Man From Nowhere (Ajeossi) was biggest and certainly most popular movie of 2010 in South Korea, and currently probably is one of the most well known Korean films of past few years in west. Written and directed by Jeong-beom Lee who had already proved himself as capable director in his debut Cruel Winter Blues from 2006.

Plot summary is simple, a quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug and organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.


Story itself is quite the cliche of action genre, but don't be discouraged by that, whats important is the raw energy and drive that this movie is accompanied by. Young movie star Bin Won who just year ago played shy and quiet boy in fantastic drama Mother, now takes complete makeover and becomes action movie superhero delivering spectacular performance as a powerful lead.

If you are a fan of thrillers that have likable and cool male characters, lots of action, and in general are really stylish, you will love it. If you like movies like Man on Fire, Léon: The Professional, Taken you will love it.

I do love it. It has everything that makes a great action movies. Everything.

A must see.

And Hollywood doesn't sleep, remake right were quickly acquired.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon.