The Berlin File (2013)

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

The Berlin File is a South Korean spy thriller, directed and written by Seung-wan Ryoo, established director in Korean industry, know for many movies, and particularly for Crying Fist and City of Violence, both found on this site. This movie is most successful project of Seung-wan Ryoo so far, and box office record holder for the genre in South Korea.

The plot is quite complex and hard to summarize, but that wouldn't be international espionage thriller if it would be that simple.

Berlin, Germany. All starts with black market weapon deal staked out by old timer South Korean intelligence agent Jung Jin So (Suk-kyu Han) and his team but before they can make their move, things go wrong. After his escape from this mess North Korean operative Pyo Jong Sung (Jung-woo Ha) who back home is considered a national hero, understands that he's been set up and betrayed, he and his wife (Gianna Jun) who works in North's embassy as translator are in center of internal power struggle in Pyongyang. CIA, Russian arms dealers, North and South's spy's, Mossad, Arab terrorist organizations, all make their own plays and appearances in this entangled spider web.

The movie is almost entirely filmed in Europe, in many locations to provide authenticity for what's happening on the screen.

The film is quite long, around two hours, but it balances it's pace very well. Slow dialogues and scenes that set up mood of seriousness and importance of character actions, followed by hard hitting, high octane stylish action scenes, be it hand to hand, or heavy weaponry.  Director himself has stated that he wanted it to resemble popular western spy thriller Borne Identity.

It's notable that this is another collaboration of director Seung-wan Ryoo and his younger brother Seung-beom Ryu who plays ruthless "problem solver", hopeful more will follow.

Brilliant cast of some of the best Korean actors, beautiful action scenes, solid cinematography, full of intrigue. A great entry for spy genre.

DVD from Amazon

My Sassy Girl (2001)

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Movie goes who are not even familiar with Asian cinema had probably heard of My Sassy Girl (Yeopgijeogin geunyeo), perhaps due to not so good Hollywood remake, but even if you don't watch romantic movies, it's catchy name is floating out there in the air. And time has come to get to know it better, this romantic comedy that shook the east with it's popularity becoming icon of Korean cinema of early 2000's . Work of director Jae-young Kwak.

Plot is based on a series of true stories posted by Kim Ho Sik about relationships with his girlfriend, which gained huge attention in Korean internet community.

Kyun-woo (Tae-hyun Cha) is lonely college student, still unsure with what to do about his future. One day while on subway train he meets really drunk, wildly behaving girl (Gianna Jun), and due to circumstances commuters think he's her boyfriend. With no choice left but to help her, unsure what to, he decided to take her to local hotel to sleep off alcohol. Next day she calls her "savior" angry demanding to explain what happened previous night. They decide to meet and new friendship begins. With time Kyun-woo sees how crazy and silly his new friend can be, one moment hitting him like a punching bag, and next one crying upon his shoulder. Despite everything Kyun-woo is determined to help her overcome her problems and make her life happy.

Really sweet romance comedy. As movie is longer than 2 hours, with most of the screen time dedicated to these two, you could think that it will be boring rid, but the chemistry between them is striking, and with well thought plot, with lots of fun, romance, drama and even a bit of action, it's over before you even know it or want it to be.

Beside Hollywood, My Sassy Girl has been remade in Japan, India and China, which says lot about it's popularity.

Excellent lighthearted romance from Korean to watch with your other half, or alone :)

DVD from Amazon.