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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Revenge Week: Top 10 Korean Revenge Films


Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). 

Korean cinema may not only be a purveyor of revenge fare but there's no denying the country's particular flair for churning out gripping vengeance-fuelled narratives. However, unlike gangster fare or romcoms, revenge films are a little harder to identify, especially when it comes to making a list like this. Outside of a few obvious contenders, it took a lot of ground work and research before even writing a word, as, again and again, I had to keep asking myself "does this count as a revenge film"?

With that in mind, these are my ten favorite Korean revenge films, followed by another ten very worthy contenders. Many films with revenge elements that I felt were not significant enough were not included (for example Memories of Murder). I've included a few classic films but I haven't as many as I would like to so the following is largely weighted towards modern offerings. And of course, it's quite possible that my hazy memory has led to my glossing over some prime contenders. To make this just a little easier, I haven't included any gangster films (you can find a top 10 of those here) or horror films. Examples from both almost all feature revenge elements, but I'm sure many will be covered elsewhere during 'Revenge Week'!

Just scroll through the links below and be warned that some spoilers lie ahead.

Now that I've shared mine, what are YOUR favorite Korean revenge films?

Intro - 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 - Best of the Rest


Top 10 Lists

Year   20142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - All Time (Top 25)

Genre   Gangster - Revenge

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14 comments:

  1. Excellent overview, definitely a lot of movies I have not seen yet but want to check out

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  2. Seriously, you haven't watch "no mercy"?? That's whats the real revenge is.

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    Replies
    1. Wasn't terribly fond of that one I'm afraid!

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    2. In agreement with Pierce. No Mercy was too contrived to have the effect intended with its finale. A waste of the great Sol Kyung-gu.

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  3. How about Samaria? It takes the hollow revenge trope in an interesting direction

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    Replies
    1. You're right, it's a very interesting example. I considered it but it fell just short of the list. ;)

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  4. I Saw The Devil. Man From Nowhere.

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  5. Oldboy is number one and The Man From Nowhere is number two.

    Old Body is first revenge flick I have watched in which the director was thinking the same thoughts as me. It was shocking exciting revealing all rolled into one joy ride. There was a moment watching this film in which my internal rage was released in an instant, vicariously with complete detachment from the object of retribution.(as is in real life) Completely therapeutic and my vote for one of the best movies of all time.

    The Man from Nowhere is genius in the formula of a "man", protecting an innocent fatherless little girl while releasing his own demons. The ending was a let down. Bin Won portrayal was just sexy. Man on Fire I am beginning to see Korean film
    influences everywhere.

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  6. I realized that almost all of my favorite Korean movies are either about revenge or at least contain elements of retaliation. :-))
    What about "A Bloody Aria", "Bleak Night", "Die Bad", "Thirst", "The Showdown", "Cruel Winter Blues", "Yellow Sea"?

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    1. I felt the revenge elements of a number of those (Bleak Night, Thirst, The Yellow Sea) weren't significant enough for this list while I didn't like the others enough for them to crack it. Thanks for your suggestions!

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  7. can't understand you didn't pick I Saw The Devil !

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  8. I Saw the Devil is in the ZERO place, you mean?

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  9. You missed I Saw the Devil, Montage, etc.

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    Replies
    1. I like both, but not as much as the others on this list. I SAW THE DEVIL is impressive but I find it quite flawed, while I think MONTAGE is a bit slight compared to those listed above.

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