The entire world is aware of the quality of content the South Korean Entertainment industry provides when it comes to making us swoon over with their rom-com projects. However, that’s not where their capability ends. Gone are the days when people used to look straight up to Hollywood for watching an action-oriented movie since South Korea has already mastered the art of creating equally good action thrillers. Starting from never-ending chase to bloodshed to passionate romance fused with intense action, there’s nothing Korean movies lack anymore.
So if you are one of those action-movies obsessed fans looking for some real adrenaline rush, here’s your call. Here is a well-compiled list of the top eight action Korean movies that you can easily find on Netflix to watch if you aren’t into rom-coms.
8. Psychokinesis (2018)
Screenwriter & Director: Yeon Sang Ho
Starring: Ryu Seung Ryong, Shim Eun Kyung, Park Jung Min, Kim Min Jae, Jung Yu Mi, Kim Do Yoon
‘Psychokinesis’ serves as the first South Korean superhero movie and also the second live-action movie by director Yeon Sang-ho, after his first live-action venture, ‘Train to Busan’ that became a smashing blockbuster. The movie centres on a bank security guard named Shin Seok Heon who acquires a psychokinesis supernatural power after consuming water from a mountain spring, polluted by meteor matter. As he comes to know about the killer of his ex-wife, who has also been trying to destroy the life of his daughter Roo Mi, he decides to make use of his superpowers to save her and sets out on a mission to protect her and the neighbourhood.
7. #Alive (2020)
Screenwriter & Director: Lee Il Hyung, Jo Il Hyung
Starring: Yoo Ah In, Park Shin Hye, Jeon Bae Soo, Lee Hyun Wook, Oh Hye Won, Kim Dan Bi
#Alive is a nifty little action-thriller that proves that stories about the walking dead can still be refreshing. The first thing Jun Woo notices after waking up in the morning is a mysterious virus outbreak in the city of Seoul, that is spreading like fire. As the situation gets out of control, survivors get trapped inside their apartment without any texting, cellular data, Wi-Fi, or phone call access. Amidst the unforeseen situation, Jun Woo and Yu Bin, another survivor in the neighbouring apartment building, join forces to survive in their house, away from the infected.
6. The Drug King (2018)
Screenwriter: Lee Ji Min, Woo Min Ho
Director: Woo Min Ho
Starring: Song Kang Ho, Jo Jung Suk, Bae Doo Na, Yoon Je Moon, Lee Bong Ryun, Jeon Jin Ki
A historical crime action movie, ‘The Drug King,’ has taken inspiration from the Japanese Invasion, during which a drug dealer uses the money he gets by selling the stuff to Japan and China to contribute to the Joseon Independence movement. The setting has been done in the 1970s following an ordinary small-time narcotics dealer who turns out to be the drug king in Korea with the name, Lee Doo Sam, with the help of a lobbyist named Bae Doona, guiding his way up in drug dealing. On the other hand, Kim In Goo is a prosecutor from Seoul who is determined to take Lee Doo Sam down. ‘The Drug King’ marks the second appearance of actors Song Kang-Ho and Cho Jung-Seok together after the 2013 film ‘The Face Reader.’
5. The Gangster, The Cop and The Devil (2019)
Screenwriter & Director: Lee Won Tae
Starring: Ma Dong Seok, Kim Mu Yeol, Kim Sung Gyu, Yoo Seung Mok, Kim Yoon Sung
The movie revolves around the leader of a gang who finds himself to be the next target of a serial killer named Kang Kyung Ho. After surviving the attack with a narrow escape, he decides to look for him before the killer plans another attack. On the other hand, detective Jung Tae Seok can go to any extent to catch the killer and thus joins hands with gang leader Jang Dong Soo even though he hates organized crime. The film features intense performances, a unique concept and mind-blowing action sequences. The twists and turns never fail to end the tension while the fight scenes provide the right amount of adrenaline. The story is well-written and entertaining with a blend of humour, style and verve.
4. Midnight Runners (2017)
Screenwriter & Director: Jason Kim
Starring: Park Seo Joon, Kang Ha Neul, Park Ha Sun, Sung Dong Il, Lee Ho Jung, Go Jun
You know you are going to be satisfied when an actor like Park Seo Joon is a part of an action movie, with his exceptional fighting skills and well-built physique! When Park Ki-Joon and Kang Hee-Yeol joined the Korean National Police University as students, they didn’t know what it takes to be responsible police officers until one night when a young woman is taken into abduction on the street in front of them.
While Hee-Yeol is very smart and intelligent, Ki-Joon is popular for his physical strength. They immediately try to involve the police in order to track the van that took her but lack of evidence and further clues don’t bring them with anything other than failure. However, instead of giving up, they take things into their own hands and work together to find the culprits, only to realise that the case they are working on isn’t as superficial as it seemed.
3. Okja (2017)
Screenwriter & Director: Bong Joon Ho
Starring: Ahn Seo Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Byun Hee Bong, Yoon Je Moon, Steven Yeun
When it comes to juggling genre and tone, probably no one is equal to or better than director Bong Joon Ho in the Asian industry. The story is about a young girl living in the mountains of South Korea and her constant companion and friend, Okja— a genetically modified massive animal whom she has been raising for ten years. However, when a multinational conglomerate Corporation led by Lucy Mirando takes Okja to the United States for recreation purposes, devastated Mija single-mindedly goes out on a rescue mission, without any plan in particular. However, she finds herself caught in the crossfire between the corrupt corporation and various groups of demonstrators, capitalists, and consumers, each of them wanting to control the fate of the innocent animal. The movie is beautiful, brave, encompassing, mind-challenging and deals with less-discussed topics of the society.
2. Kingdom: Ashin of the North (2021)
Screenwriter: Kim Eun Hee
Director: Kim Sung Hoon
Starring: Jun Ji Hyun, Kim Shi Ah, Park Byung Eun, Kim Roe Ha, Ji Hyun Joon, Koo Kyo Hwan
The movie is definitely a worth-watch for the fans of one of Netflix’s most popular Kingdom series, which is basically a feature-length film, serving as a sidequel to the series. It features the backstory for the third installment of the Kingdom series, about a mysterious character whom Lee Chang’s group has encountered while they are on their journey towards the north, in order to discover the source of the infected. The new story focuses on the mystery behind the identity of Ashin, giving details of her past life in the northern region as well as the connection that the two characters share.
In case you haven’t watched the first two seasons, we highly recommend you to do so in order to enjoy its splendour to the fullest. The two seasons just have six episodes each and it isn’t hard to devour them within a day or two. Undoubtedly, Kingdom: Ashin of the North is a high-quality production that has managed to live up to the hype.
1. Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)
Screenwriter & Director: Kim Yong Hwa
Starring: Ha Jung Woo, Cha Tae Hyun, Kim Hyang Gi, Joo Ji Hoon, Kim Dong Wook, Oh Dal Soo
An eye-catching and delightful movie to watch, ‘Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds’ has been adapted from a webtoon by Joo Ho Min, that follows the afterlife of the fireman Kim Ja Hong. He must face different trials for a span of 49 days, against deceit, indolence, murder, violence, betrayal, injustice and filial impiety before he can be declared as a noble soul. In the process, three guardian angels— Hae Won Maek, Kang Rim and Deok Choon are supposed to help him out so that he can avoid any punishment. However, Kim Ja Hong’s navigation through his afterlife becomes difficult after a vengeful spirit starts creating trouble in the other world.
The film is not just an action-oriented one but addresses various important subjects including family matters, the notions of good and evil, hardships of life and the feelings of inadequacy and guilt. It delivers the message that human nature is imperfect and that’s what makes their existence meaningful. The unique storyline and CGI effects have greatly impressed the viewers.