A sci-fi title centred on AI, a terrorist thriller inspired by true events, a revenge number with heavy doses of martial arts — 2023 has brought with it the most exciting and eclectic set of Korean action movies. Here’s a look at a few that promise to give you goosebumps.
The Hallyu wave swept the world sometime in the 1900s — introducing a wide range of entertainment enthusiasts to wild plotlines, high production values, impeccable fashion, and stellar actors. While romantic comedies were the first to achieve cult status, titles with jaw-dropping combat scenes and high-speed chases weren’t too far behind (pun intended). In fact, series like Descendants Of The Sun, D.P, My Name, and Healer were blockbuster hits — inspiring a sea of similar shows. No surprises then that there are plenty of big-screen options to go-to when a hankering for excitement strikes. In fact, 2023 has had some well-rated releases across genres — crime thriller, sci-fi, the works. Here’s a look at the latest Korean action movies that pack a punch.
Best Korean action movies of 2023 (so far)
The Point Men
Directed by: Im Soon Rye
Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Hyun Bin, Kang Ki-young
Release date: 18 January, 2023
Synopsis: Inspired by a true story, this movie sees Korean tourists being held hostage in the Middle East by an extremist group. On a rescue mission are diplomat Jae Ho (played by Hwang Jung-min) and special agent Dae Sik (Hyun Bin). While the former is skilled in negotiation, the latter is an expert in the Middle East. Their race against time forces them to navigate several challenges and forge a bond in the process.
Directed by: Lee Hae-young
Cast: Sol Kyung-gu, Lee Hanee, Park So-dam, Park Hae-soo, Seo Hyun-woo
Release date: 18 January, 2023
Synopsis: During the Japanese colonisation of Korea (1900s), a failed assassination attempt on the new resident general by an anti-Japanese organisation leads to five suspects. This includes former soldier and current police officer Junji Murayama (played by Sol Kyung-gu) and cryptogram expert Park Cha-Kyung (played by Lee Hanee). All of them are brought to a seaside cliff hotel where they’re placed under close observation. The only escape? To use their wits and skills to hunt down an infamous ‘phantom’ who’s evaded authorities.
Directed by: Sang-ho Yeon
Cast: Kim Hyun-joo, Uhm Ji-won, Ryu Kyung-Soo, Park So-yi, Kang Soo-yeon
Release date: 20 January, 2023
Synopsis: It’s the 22nd century (year 2194). Climate change has made earth uninhabitable and a small section of humanity struggles to survive in man-made shelters. With matters bleak and life constantly in flux, a war breaks out. The only way out? Discovering a way of cloning the elite leader of the allied forces Jun Yi (played by Kim Hyun-joo).
Directed by: Byun Sung-hyun
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Sol Kyung-gu, Esom, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Si-a, Lee Yeon
Release date: 31 March, 2023
Synopsis: Kill Bok Soon (played by Jeon Do-yeon) is a single mother and a lethal contract killer with a 100 percent success rate. She, however, struggles with work-life balance. Her trainer Cha Min-kyu (played by So Kyung-gu) is a dangerous force with the power to take away everything from her. Just as she’s about to renew her contract, she finds herself in a pickle that will end with her killing or being killed.
The Roundup: No Way Out
Directed by: Lee Sang-yong
Cast: Ma Dong Seok, Lee Joon Hyuk, Aoki Munetaka, Park Ji Hwan, Lee Bum Soo, Kim Min Jae
Release date: 31 May, 2023
Synopsis: Geumcheon Police Station’s detective Ma Seok Do (played by Ma Dong Seok) and his team is promoted to the Metropolitan Investigation Team. The mission? Nabbing Japanese gangsters who’ve been terrorising tourists in Korea a long time. Over the course of the investigations, murky murder cases come to the fore.
Directed by: Park Hoon-jung
Cast: Kim Seon-ho, Kang Tae-joo, Kim Kang-woo, Go Ara
Release date: 21 June, 2023
Synopsis: Boxer Marco Han (played by Kang Tae-joo) has a Filipino mother and a wealthy, estranged Korean father. He fights across illegal stadiums in the Philippines, looking for the latter to have him help pay for his mother’s surgery. After an accident leaves him hospitalised, he’s approached by a lawyer claiming to represent his father and heads to Korea himself. Once there, however, he has to fend off several assassins who are on his tail. All while unravelling uncomfortable truths about himself.
Directed by: Ryoo Seung-wan
Cast: Kim Hye-soo, Yum Jung-ah, Zo In-sung, Park Jeong-min, Kim Jong-soo, Go Min-si
Release date: 26 July, 2023
Synopsis: The establishment of a chemical plant steals the jobs of sea women — who dive for mollusks, seaweed, and other oceanic forms for a living. They then turn to the dangerous world of smuggling to make ends meet.
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All images: Courtesy of Amazo Prime Video/Netflix
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is a good action movie to watch today?
Korean action movies like Smugglers, Kill Bok-soon, and JUNG_E make for a good watch.
2. What is the highest rated action movie on IMDB?
The Dark Knight (2008) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) are highly rated on IMDB.
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India