A Dirty Carnival (2006)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

A Dirty Carnival (Biyeolhan geori) is gangster movie directed by Yoo Ha, to this day it's his most successful project. Yoo Ha also is a poet. He chose to make such violent and gritty movies as a remembrance of his days as youth during darker times of South Korea history.

Kim Byung-doo (In-seong Jo) is 29 year old small time gangster, that has no opportunities to excel in his line of work, and is burdened by his family, a sick mother and pair of siblings he has to take care of. As he loses his only source of income, a small arcade house, to a fellow gangster he becomes really desperate, but at the right time opportunity comes to solve all his problems, a hit job on his boss and corrupt government official. All goes well and he gets back on his feet.

Soon, however, old friend from his childhood turns up. An aspiring movie director Min-ho (Min Nam-koong) who asks for expertise to finish his new movie about gangsters. In-seong Jo reveals a bit too much and when the movie is finished and becomes really popular, some people start to ask questions...

A great gangster drama, where director doesn't glorify gangster life style but portrays it in really realistic and gritty manner. Amazingly violent and brutal gang fight scenes, inner struggles of main character in cruel world of crime. There's bit of everything needed for successful gangster movie.

Recommended for any fan of genre.

Blu-rayDVD from Amazon.
Blu-ray (Limited Edition) from YesAsia.

I Saw the Devil (2010)

Genre: Crime, Horror, Drama, Thriller

I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boatda) is movie by one of my favorite directors - Jee-woon Kim, featuring, as he often does in his movies, two of the finest actors Korea has to offer Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi in a grotesque and suspenseful thriller involving serial killer(s).

Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) works a secret agent in South Korean government, his fiance is kidnapped and brutally murdered by serial killer. Using his connections and skills he quickly comes upon Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), but instead of unleashing his revenge right there on the spot, he decides to bring prolonged suffering against the man who took his love away, to show him what amount of pain one has to suffer after such a loss. A cat and mouse game begins. But is it a game worth playing for Kim Soo-yeon?

This movies is driven with pure, distilled vengeance, a theme that is really common and well portrayed in Korean cinema. Both actors are great for their roles, you can see pure evil in the eyes of  Min-sik Choi character, and how good and evil starts to stir and mix somewhere deep inside eyes of his adversary played by Byung-hun Lee.

Prior to theatrical release in South Korea it was twice refused acceptable rating for showing in cinemas, forcing Jee-woon Kim to cut around 90 seconds of footage before it was accepted. That's how disturbing this movies is.

As with The Chaser, it's another masterpiece about serial killers from Korea. If you enjoy movies like Se7en, Vengeance trilogy and such, there is no reason why you should't watch this one.

Highly recommended.

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

Crying Fist (2005)

Genre: Drama

Crying Fist (Jumeogi unda) is written and directed by experienced Korean director - Seung-wan Ryoo. It's worth mentioning that his brother Seung-beom Ryu is playing main role, which is not their first collaboration. A quite talented family.

Film tells two separate tragic stories about two man, each of whom are struggling with problems presented by their life's, only common things between them are their failures and boxing, a dying sport in Korea.

One man is middle aged Olympic Silver medal winner Gang Tae-shik (portrayed by excellent actor Min-sik Choi), whose prime time and fame is long gone, struggling with financial trouble and trying to save his falling apart family. Earning money on streets part time, working as human punchbag...

Other one is adolescent, mean looking Yoo Sang-hwan (Seung-beom Ryu) who always makes trouble. His father tries hard to protect him, but eventually he lands in jail, where he is met by even bigger problems. However, a prison guard invites Yoo Sang-hwan to learn boxing, which he accepts thinking it will help release his anger against this unfair world.

Life and it's challenges...

Great drama with two strong lead actors, well worth a watch.

DVD from Amazon.
OST from YesAsia.