Howling (2012)

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery














Howling, a film from already established Korean director and a poet Ha Yoo best known to us for his films Once Upon a Time In High School and A Dirty Carnival.This time he takes a leap from his favorite drama genre to a thriller mystery.


A seasoned detective Sang-Kill (Kang-ho Song) eager for a big case to hasten his promotion, gets assigned to investigate what appears to be a suicide by self-immolation. Unwillingly he is partnered with rookie female detective Eun-Young (Na-yeong Lee) who is disdained in this male dominant police unit. It is later found out that that the victim of fire had huge bite marks on his body, that resemble dog or a wolf, and when further investigation reveals more murders done in similar manner it becomes unclear who and how is committing these murders. Both cops are determined to solve this mystery.




Seasoned cop and a rookie, quite cliche in detective movies, don't you think? But as it happens with cliches, director made it work just fine, and the pair working together, enhanced by excellent acting of both lead actors, to solve this mystery is a pleasure to watch. 

This movie also touches on women rights in South Korea, and point's out that there are still problems in this area even today, where man often based on prejudice refuse to accept women into their profession.

There are parts in this movie that I think are totally useless, serve no purpose and are just silly in their appearance (a hint for those who will watch it - motorcycle). But they are very few and not import to overall movie.

By no means it's a perfect movie, but it's fairly entertaining, has a solid plot, quality production and offers delight to see more Kang-ho Song amazing acting on your screens. Overall a fine flick for weary evening.

DVD from Amazon

The Client (2011)

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller














The Client (Eui-roi-in) is South Korean variation on so called courtroom thriller genre directed by director Young-Sung Sohn.

Han Cheol-min (Hyuk Jang) returns home from a car ride on his wedding anniversary, holding bouquet of flowers for his wife he proceeds to apartment building, which is surrounded by crowd of curious bystanders. After he gets past them, stepping into apartment he meets several policeman who are investigating crime scene. A crime scene in his home. There's blood everywhere in bedroom, and his wife is missing. Immediately Han Cheol-min is arrested for murder of his wife.

Circumstances of crime are puzzling, and with inconclusive evidence, a legal battle in halls of justice begins between prosecutor Ahn Min-Ho (Hee-soon Park) and defense lawyer Kang Seong-Hee (Jung-woo Ha), each convinced of their own truth about Han Cheol-min. What will trial uncover?


While this movie can be labeled as courtroom thriller (and it's pitched as first one for South Korea, but I am not so sure about it, and with no way to verify, we'll leave it at that) as it involves everything that such films need, a crime, a defendant, and whole might of justice system, it is not strictly spent inside courtroom. The dose of mystery surrounding the crime, and investigations put in place by involved parties are in focus, trial is just what ties it together.

Good performance by actors, fine cinematography and intriguing crime mystery for a plot. A thriller in best traditions of Korean cinema. While fans of courtroom films won't be overly surprised by events in this film, it's a solid example of such genre. A proper thriller flick, worth checking out.

DVD from YesAsia

Memories of Murder (2003)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery














Following his debut satire film Barking Dogs Never Bite and prior to gaining international fame after blockbuster The Host, director Joon-ho Bong shook Korean with his masterpiece revolving around serial killer Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok).

In rural province area, two bodies of women are found, ditched in country side outskirts, in fields of grain. Both brutally raped and killed in similar ways. Two incompetent and inexperienced with such big case cops are assigned the case, detective Park Doo-Man (Kang-ho Song) and his belligerent partner Cho Yong-koo (Roe-ha Kim). Thinking it's just domestic murders they try to work the case using methods that are popular at that time in Korean police, guess work and violence against suspects, but nothing comes out of it. Soon, detective Seo Tae-Yoon (Sang-kyung Kim) is sent from Seoul to assist local police. They are not fond of each other and their approach to investigation differs much, but eventually they start to work together and make some progress. But will it be enough to catch the killer?


Absolutely fantastic work, that is one of my favorites of all the movies I've ever seen. Stunningly beautiful cinematography, each scene is masterfully crafted, every character and dialogue appears to be so genuine. It's brutal and violent, but not on the screen (well, sometimes). It posses that grim undertones that curl through it, not stopping until characters and viewer himself feel powerlessness and despair.

When credits rolled I was left in that bad kind of mood that only good movies about dark side of humanity leave behind, a sign how involved you become with the world that is portrayed for you by director.

Notably this movie, like many others, is based on real events, first serial killer case that had happened in Korean history. Movies ending paralleled with these real life events make it so much more powerful.

It gets huge recommendation from me, definitely a must see.

DVD from Amazon
Blu-ray | DVD from YesAsia

2009 Lost Memories (2002)

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi, Thriller













If you are into market for science fiction, action blockbuster, 2009 Lost Memories is right down your alley. Directed by Si-myung Lee, it took more than 2 years of production, and cost around 7 million dollars to film this movie, which is a huge budget for a Korean film, making it most expensive movie of the year.

Set in alternative future, year 2009, where Japan has annexed Korea, fought and won World War 2 on allied side, and is a super power on global stage. Two Japanese Bureau of Investigation agents Masayuki Sakamoto (Dong-gun Jang) and Shojiro Saigo (Toru Nakamura) are sent to investigate incident at art museum, where underground anti government organization Hureisenjin had taken hostages during exhibition of antiques organized by Inoue Foundation. Investigating this terror act, agents found clues that point how Seoul might really not be a part of Japan, and how reality they know might not be the "right" one. Maybe even the history can be changed?



Quite clever plot with good flow that keeps entertaining every minute won't leave you bored while watching this spectacular fight for the future. Fans of action films should not be scared by excessive sci-fi elements, movie while set in alternative future is grounded in reality, so don't expect flying cars and lazer blasters.

A quality blockbuster with interesting look on history, great action and fun sci-fi elements.

DVD from Amazon.
DVD from YesAsia.

Oldboy (2003)


Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery














Oldboy (Oldeuboi) probably is the most famous and well known Korean movie in the west, which has attract many new viewers to Asian cinema. It won many awards in Europe, including Grand Prix of the Jury at 57th Cannes Film Festival. As with many Asian films, currently there are plans for Hollywood remake to be directed by Spike Lee.


It's second movie in Chan-wook Park's so called Vengeance trilogy (movies are not connected by plot, only by theme, so viewing order is not important!).

Story follows man (played by brilliant Korean actor Choi Min-sik) who has been held captive in small apartment for 10 years, and reasons of this imprisonment are unknown to him. Once he is set free, he goes onto quest of vengeance to find his captors. Quite brutal, even shocking to some, yet beautiful movie.

A must see for any movie fan!


Blu-ray | DVD
Vengeance trilogy Blu-ray from Amazon.