Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 15 Korean Films of 2016


By Pierce Conran

While 2016 has a been a difficult year in many regards, one area where it has excelled has been Korean cinema. With big auteurs returning with some of their best work, younger filmmakers making their presence felt and another new batch of promising indies, the industry has put out its best crop of films in years.

Films with strong social messages featured prominently and it's also been a strong year for women directors, with four names featured in the 20 titles below (which include five honorable mentions). While indie films were as strong as ever, compared to previous lists, far more commercial films appear here. This is partly because of the number of name filmmakers with a new title in 2016 but perhaps also due to the success of foreign companies venturing into the Korean market, such as Fox and Warner Bros.

Given the riches on display it hardly seemed fair to cut out several films that might have made the top five or so in other years so I've expanded this year's list to an indulgent 15 titles. I've seen just over 100 local films in 2016, a little less than usual but I don't think I've missed anything major. As usual, the criteria for films were those that screened for the first time this year, either at a festival or directly in theaters.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know below!

Happy New Year!


1. The Wailing


Expectations were high, but few could have imagined what director Na Hong-jin had in store for us with his third feature. After stepping out of the film’s press screening back in early May, I tweeted that the film was “a bone-chilling, thunderous descent into hell. A masterpiece.” Seven months later my enthusiasm hasn’t abated one whit and Na’s delirious work, unpredictable, thrilling and confounding at every turn, can take its place among the pantheon of Korean greats.


=2. The Age of Shadows


F or his return to Korean cinema, Kim Jee-woo plays it straight (more-or-less) with an engrossing and explosive spy yarn that sees him draw saw some of the best work out of a stable of Korea’s finest film crew, from cinematography (Kim Ji-yong) and production design (Jo Hwa-sung) to music (Mowg) and editing (Yang Jin-mo). Song Kang-ho is ace as a conflicted Korean officer in the Japanese occupying police force and Uhm Tae-gu is a revelation as one of his unhinged colleagues.


=2. The Truth Beneath


Though a box office dud that was dropped into a bad release slot with little marketing support, the second film from Crush and Blush filmmaker Lee Kyoung-mi has become something of a sensation among local critics and awards bodies, and for good reason. Son Ye-jin puts in the performance of a lifetime in a film that defies expectations. An immersive psychological thriller delivered with exceptional panache.


4. The Handmaiden


Park Chan-wook scored critical and commercial success with his sumptuous and surprising adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith and discovered a brilliant new talent, Kim Tae-ri, in the process. The Handmaiden was sadly robbed of a chance to represent Korea in the foreign language category at the Academy Awards, in a year when it has swept American critics awards and stood a great chance of being Korea’s first nominee in the category. Fingers crossed that it might find its way to the Kodak theater through some technical categories.


5. The World of Us


Youn Ga-eun proves that she is a force to be reckoned with after following up a series of incredible short films (Guest, Sprout) with a deeply sensitive portrait of elementary school girls in her feature debut The World of Us. The simplicity of its dialogue and situations belie a complex exploration of the foundation of adult relationships. Her ability to draw out extraordinary performances from her young cast alone is impressive, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg for a talent that surely has great things in store.


6. Ash Flower


Park Suk-young closes out his flower trilogy with his best film yet. Following the scabrous Wild Flowers and the elegiac Steel Flower, Ash Flower is a big step up technically but loses none of the potency of Park’s raw narratives. The film also reunites him with young actress Jeong Ha-dam, here more clearly than ever a future leading light of the industry. Ash Flower debuted at the Seoul Independent Film Festival at the very end of the year but here’s hoping foreign festivals will take note and give this the notice it deserves.


7. Karaoke Crazies


The surprise of the year, and one which still hasn’t booked a local release date nine months after its SXSW bow, Karaoke Crazies combines the genre thrills of colorful Korean thrillers and a strong dramatic core for its odd and engaging protagonists. Kim Sang-chan’s chamber piece revels in Korea’s favorite after hours pass time and has numerous surprises up its sleeve.


8. Train to Busan


‘Zombies on a train.’ What a pitch and what a ride it turned out to be. Acclaimed animation director Yeon Sang-ho confidently stepped up to the big league in a very big way with his thoroughly engaging live action debut Train to Busan, the year’s biggest hit, and the most successful Korean film outside of Korea of all time. Conflating the pleasures of its effective genre premise with plenty of contemporary social critiques, this is a blockbuster that works on several levels.


9. Worst Woman


In Worst Woman, which debuted at the Jeonju International Film Festival, Han Ye-ri shines as an actress caught between several men who may or may not be putting on a performance around them. Shot with a keen eye and a great deal of sensitivity by director Kim Jong-kwan, who also released The Table this year (once again featuring Han), the film tugs at the strings of old and new relationships, caught somewhere between real life and a reverie.


10. The Bacchus Lady


Legendary star Young Yuh-jung delivers a capital performance in E J-yong’s deceptively easy-going tale of an elderly prostitute. The Bacchus Lady almost tackles too many fringe social issues, ranging from euthanasia and STIs to the plight of mixed-raced children and transexuals, but it’s anchored by a towering performance that ranks among the year’s best from any country.


11. Dongju: The Portrait of an Artist


Whereas many recent Korean films have explored the Japanese Occupation Era of late (there are three on this list), none have done so with the elegance of Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet. Shot in black and white, this indie debut from hitmaker Lee Joon-ik, which was also penned and produced by indie darling Shin Yeon-shick (The Avian Kind), is both sober and satisfying. This tale of a Korean poet oppressed by the Japanese also features a terrific supporting role by Park Jung-min.


12. Jane


Much like Han Gong-ju did in 2013 for Lee Su-jin, Jane introduced Busan Film Festival audiences to the promising directorial talents of Cho Hyun-hoon this year. Cho’s command of tone and composition in each frame is remarkable for such a low-budget film and it doesn’t hurt to have Koo Gyo-hwan on top form as the eponymous transgender.


13. The Tunnel


Following the deliriously entertaining A Hard Day, director Kim Seong-hun enters blockbuster territory with the disaster drama The Tunnel. Ha Jung-woo, who spends most of his screen time alone, is as charming as ever in the lead in a tale that echoes real life disastrous rescue operations. Approaching his dour subject with humor and a restrained amount of melodrama, Kim provides a well-crafted piece of commercial entertainment with great supporting turns from Doona Bae and Oh Dal-su.


14. Merry Christmas Mr. Mo


Lim Dae-hyung's lovely debut is a charming black and white affair tinged with nostalgia. A rare Korean Christmas film (sort of), Merry Christmas Mr. Mo benefits from the wonderfully droll Ki Joo-bong in the lead and while it meanders somewhat in the mid-section, it ends in a pitch-perfect and heart-rending Chaplin homage.


15. Yourself and Yours


Another year means another new work by Hong Sang-soo (though we should expect two in 2017) and while Yourself and Yours may not rank among his best, fans will find plenty to like in this wry tale of an artist chasing after someone who may or may not be his girlfriend. New to the Hong stable, Kim Joo-hyuk and Lee Joo-young acquits themselves well in this amusing if comparatively lightweight offering from the revered auteur.


Honorable Mentions


Lost to Shame
Missing
Our Love Story
A Quiet Dream
Sori: Voice from the Heart



Top 10 Lists

Year  2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010
2010s (Top 50) - All Time (Top 25)

Genre   Gangster - Revenge

91 comments:

  1. Glad to finally see your review again after almost a year.. I've always liked your reviews since we're almost always at the same page on South Korean movies.. Keep up the great work

    ReplyDelete
  2. welcome back, thanks a lot Sir

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Yeah! Finally you back.
    What about "Asura: Cruel City"?

    ReplyDelete
  4. 'The Net' by Kim Ki-Duk?

    ReplyDelete
  5. South Koreans make the best movies in the WORLD!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Train to busan is a real thrill ride but I have to say the wailing is a true masterpiece.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Despite there still being pure-action films widely available, hybrid genre films are definitely the future action movie

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awesome review, I am a major devotee to remarking on web journals to educate the web journal scholars realize that they've added something beneficial to the internet!..  xmovies8 free movies online

    ReplyDelete
  10. Be that as it may, what number of these, which get a positive input, are in reality great movies? Well it isn't that easy to reply, as it appears. The point is particularly abstract.movies playing

    ReplyDelete
  11. In the event that you neglect to return it on schedule,How to Watch Movies Online Free at Putlocker, at that point the store would charge late expenses that were as a rule more than the underlying rental expense.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anyway there are sure destinations watch crime movies online free that are free of such things. They have systems with television programs and motion picture creation houses because of which they can give an enormous number of TV shows and movies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello. awesome post, I discovered your website just some time ago.
    I own a similar blog. I also like the theme of your website You're a blogger with skills. Good luck with your website

    ReplyDelete
  14. love it. really thanks for sharing, I'm sure you spent a lot of time to research all this.
    I needed such post. I have some questions, if you can PM me However thanks, it's a good article. I'm sure I will visit your blog again

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good day. you did good job, This post couldn't be better.
    I almost gave up researching this topic. This website has a great theme also However thanks, it's a good article. Please you need to write more

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello. really thanks for sharing, I just discovered your blog.
    By the way, I was just surfing the internet when I found you. Is this wordpress blog? People appreciate your effors put in this website. I'm sure I will visit your blog again

    ReplyDelete
  17. Korean movies are always my fav part of night time pass. I and my family are big time korean thriller and drama lovers. Especially the movie called I saw the Devil and Memories of Murder were the class films. We were amazed to see such great movies made by awesome director. their background music and cinematography were simply outstanding. Bravo

    ReplyDelete
  18. เว็บดูหนังออนไลน์ ดูหนัง ซีรี่ย์ฝรั่ง ซีรี่ย์เกาหลี Netflix หนังมาเร็ว doonungth.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Rather than flooding us with shocking set plans and enhancements, they gave us "sections of the real world" and welcomed us to participate in sorting the significance out.https://www.buyyoutubeviewsindia.in/youtube-marketing/

    ReplyDelete
  20. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post. https://9xflix.website

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi there! Nice material, do keep me posted when you post something like this again! I will visit this blog leaps and bounds for more quality posts like it. Thanks... https://projectfreetv.site

    ReplyDelete
  22. I read that Post and got it fine and informative. https://desiremovies.website

    ReplyDelete
  23. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. https://repelis24.website

    ReplyDelete
  24. Very informative post! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign. https://9xmovies.gifts

    ReplyDelete
  25. I read that Post and got it fine and informative. https://pelispedia.online

    ReplyDelete
  26. Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style. https://9xflix.today

    ReplyDelete
  27. I read that Post and got it fine and informative. https://9xmovies.legal

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post. https://zmovies.website

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have seen some great stuff here. Worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website. Your work is truly appreciated around the clock and the globe. https://desiremovies.fun

    ReplyDelete
  30. When your website or blog goes live for the first time, it is exciting. That is until you realize no one but you and your. https://movieswood.website

    ReplyDelete
  31. A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. https://hubflix.today

    ReplyDelete
  32. I like your post. It is good to see you verbalize from the heart and clarity on this important subject can be easily observed... https://lookmovies.space

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am jovial you take pride in what you write. It makes you stand way out from many other writers that can not push high-quality content like you. https://123movies-website.org

    ReplyDelete
  34. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. https://couchtuner-hd.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us. https://putlocker-live.org

    ReplyDelete
  36. Superior post, keep up with this exceptional work. It's nice to know that this topic is being also covered on this web site so cheers for taking the time to discuss this! Thanks again and again! https://solarmovies.video

    ReplyDelete
  37. This was a really great contest and hopefully I can attend the next one. It was alot of fun and I really enjoyed myself.. https://megashare-website.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for the blog filled with so many information. Stopping by your blog helped me to get what I was looking for. Now my task has become as easy as ABC. https://himovies.live

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you. https://watchserieshd.live

    ReplyDelete
  40. Attractive, post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have liked browsing your blog posts. After all, I will surely subscribe to your feed, and I hope you will write again soon! https://moviesjoy.win

    ReplyDelete
  41. Most of the time I don’t make comments on websites, but I'd like to say that this article really forced me to do so. Really nice post! https://rainierland.live

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future. tractor

    ReplyDelete
  43. You delivered such an impressive piece to read, giving every subject enlightenment for us to gain information. Thanks for sharing such information with us due to which my several concepts have been cleared. https://movie4k.media

    ReplyDelete
  44. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free https://flixtor.media

    ReplyDelete
  45. This article was written by a real thinking writer without a doubt. I agree many of the with the solid points made by the writer. I’ll be back day in and day for further new updates. https://c-cmovies.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. A very excellent blog post. I am thankful for your blog post. I have found a lot of approaches after visiting your post. https://b-bmovies.com

    ReplyDelete
  47. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free https://xmovies8.one

    ReplyDelete
  48. A very excellent blog post. I am thankful for your blog post. I have found a lot of approaches after visiting your post. https://watchserieshd.watch

    ReplyDelete
  49. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.  https://vexmovies.pw

    ReplyDelete
  50. Great job for publishing such a beneficial web site. Your web log isn’t only useful but it is additionally really creative too. There tend to be not many people who can certainly write not so simple posts that artistically. Continue the nice writing https://losmoviess.com

    ReplyDelete
  51. A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post https://movieninja.live

    ReplyDelete
  52. Almost all of us love watching movies on TV or on the internet. Cima4U

    ReplyDelete
  53. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work https://projectfreetv.one

    ReplyDelete
  54. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work https://projectfreetv.space/

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks for the blog post buddy! Keep them coming... https://y-ymovies.com

    ReplyDelete
  56. Wonderful article. Fascinating to read. I love to read such an excellent article. Thanks! It has made my task more and extra easy. Keep rocking https://movietube.video

    ReplyDelete
  57. Great survey, I'm sure you're getting a great response. https://solar-movies.one

    ReplyDelete
  58. I am thankful to you for sharing this plethora of useful information. I found this resource utmost beneficial for me. Thanks a lot for hard work. https://thecouchtuner.space

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thank you so much as you have been willing to share information with us. We will forever admire all you have done here because you have made my work as easy as  https://couchtunerweb.site

    ReplyDelete
  60. Great survey, I'm sure you're getting a great response https://newcouchtuner.site

    ReplyDelete
  61. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. https://soap2daymovies.website

    ReplyDelete
  62. Wow, What an Outstanding post. I found this too much informatics. It is what I was seeking for. I would like to recommend you that please keep sharing such type of info.If possible, Thanks. https://1solarmovies.site

    ReplyDelete
  63. I am impressed. I don't think Ive met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. You are truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. Really, great blog you have got here https://couchtuner.rest

    ReplyDelete
  64. I found that site very usefull and this survey is very cirious, I ' ve never seen a blog that demand a survey for this actions, very curious https://soap2day.shop

    ReplyDelete
  65. Remarkable article, it is particularly useful! I quietly began in this, and I'm becoming more acquainted with it better! Delights, keep doing more and extra impressive https://soap2day.monster

    ReplyDelete
  66. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much. https://solarmovies.space

    ReplyDelete
  67. Great job for publishing such a beneficial web site. Your web log isn’t only useful but it is additionally really creative too. https://soaptoday.website

    ReplyDelete
  68. I exactly got what you mean, thanks for posting. And, I am too much happy to find this website on the world of Google. https://thesolarmovies.one

    ReplyDelete
  69. Thank you so much as you have been willing to share information with us. We will forever admire all you have done here because you have made my work as easy as ABC https://putlockers9.live

    ReplyDelete
  70. When your website or blog goes live for the first time, it is exciting. That is until you realize no one but you and your.
    https://watchcouchtuner.website

    ReplyDelete
  71. Remarkable article, it is particularly useful! I quietly began in this, and I'm becoming more acquainted with it better! Delights, keep doing more and extra impressive! https://newputlocker.website

    ReplyDelete
  72. You have performed a great job on this article. It’s very precise and highly qualitative. You have even managed to make it readable and easy to read. You have some real writing talent. Thank you so much. https://thesolarmovies.space

    ReplyDelete
  73. I was reading some of your content on this website and I conceive this internet site is really informative ! Keep on putting up. https://1primewire.top

    ReplyDelete
  74. Cool stuff you have got and you keep update all of us. Initia Visa Faʻamatalaga a Initia

    ReplyDelete
  75. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. Ариза барои раводиди Туркия онлайн

    ReplyDelete
  76. You there, this is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information. Quality content is what always gets the visitors coming. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  77. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. PROCESO RÁPIDO DE VISA INDIA

    ReplyDelete
  78. I can give you the address Here you will learn how to do it correctly. Read and write something good. INDIA VISA APPLICATION

    ReplyDelete
  79. You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times. Your views are in accordance with my own for the most part. This is great content for your readers. 먹튀검증사이트

    ReplyDelete
  80. If you set out to make me think today; mission accomplished! I really like your writing style and how you express your ideas. Thank you. Pedido de visto canadense

    ReplyDelete
  81. Thanks for the blog loaded with so many information. Stopping by your blog helped me to get what I was looking for. 토토114

    ReplyDelete
  82. Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. 꽁머니사이트

    ReplyDelete
  83. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  84. Enjoy hundreds of inspiring, uplifting, positive family-friendly movies. Faith-based movies

    ReplyDelete
  85. All things are va, and this is what is not. The infinite loneliness of blooming youth is firmly the golden age. Is there anyone in your heart in the grass you can see? It is a human thing. Behold, are you beautiful with yourself? For the beating of a heart, is a human being beautiful?비아그라 구매처

    ReplyDelete