Quite unlike its romantic TV counterparts, Korean cinema has been a fertile ground for outstanding crime dramas throughout the years. Well-paced, intense and violent in both atmosphere and at times visuals, here are five obscure Korean crime thrillers to get by this somewhat lackluster Summer movie season!
5. Hide And Seek Is A Climb Up The Social Ladder Done Perversely Wrong
When Sung-soo visits the apartment of his estranged and now missing brother, he discovers strange markings on every neighbor’s door. Just as he realizes the markings indicate the headcount and genders of the occupants, the mysterious signs find their way to the affluent community Sung-soo lives, threatening to unveil something more sinister than what first appears to be a children’s game. With interesting exposition, unsettling camerawork and a stab at the social issues that drive people against one another, Hide and Seek tops off the fantastic atmosphere with an ending that will send chills down your back.
4. White Night: He Who In habits The Shadows So She May Shine In The Light
Two murders spanning 14 years link a young man and a beautiful woman in an unspeakable bond, even as they live completely separate lives. As obstacles around the woman are eliminated one by one in death, the cops close in on an apparent link, only to be met with a cruel truth and the ultimate sacrifice. Adapted from Keigo Higashino's Journey Under the Midnight Sun that took Japan by storm when it hit bookstores, White Night is a quietly violent story filled with desires, the strongest of which may be what they call love.
3. Memories Of Murder Harks Back To A Past Only The Murderer And His Stubborn Pursuers Remember
Here is one of your typical crime movies with the foul-mouthed and unkempt detective forced to work with his more “civilized” partner from the city. Despite their differences in values and everything else, the misfits will stop at nothing to catch the elusive serial killer, only to be misled time and again by their own prejudices and blindsides. Memories of Murder is very solidly filmed, featuring spot-on acting by some of Korea’s best and delivering a crude, bumpy investigative experience unlike any modern detective flick. Helped with a dose of dark humor and some chillingly beautiful scenes, this movie will leave you with many mixed feelings and a sigh of helplessness.
2. The Thieves Has You Rooting For A Talented And Mischevious Bunch
The more lighthearted and fun entry on this list, The Thieves features some of the biggest names in Asian cinema spanning a wonderful cast from Korea, Hong Kong and mainland China. Each with multilayered motives that at times threaten to jeopardize their grand plan of stealing a $20 million diamond, this criminal ensemble brings delightful twists and turns to a somewhat familiar plot, guaranteeing a good dose of action, humor and surprises along the way.
1. Cold Eyes Sees It All, Even The Minute Details That Can Save Your Life
Cold Eyes is a rare gem in detective thrillers given its narrow focus on the role of human surveillance, the act of literally following a target unnoticed and gathering as much information about the target and his surroundings in the process. If you’re one for a more unconventional detective route and smooth camerawork aided by well-placed CGI, this movie will not disappoint. Opening strong with a test that stretches your memory to the limits, Cold Eyes keeps up a fast-paced and intense plot throughout to offer a surprisingly immersive experience.
If you still need more convincing that Asian films are awesomely entertaining (thriller, horror, action, or otherwise), check out the Movie Pilot original video below: