Damn, Koreans Make Great Crime Movies

By size, South Korea is smaller than the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu (100,000 sq km vs 130,000 sq km).

In terms of population, Tamil Nadu has 72-million people versus 49 million for South Korea.

The Tamil film industry and its larger Bollywood sibling make scores of films every year, most of them unwatchable horror-shows like Ready, Avan Ivan, Kuruvi, Villu and other trash of their ilk.

South Korean film-makers put out a fraction of the movies made by Indians.

Yet the South Korean film industry has made significant strides on the world stage, winning awards, getting respect and recognition from movie-buffs around the world.

At the same time, 99% of Indian movies continue to remain the dregs, the laughing stock of moviegoers outside of South Asia and the diaspora.

Of course, crooked Indian film-makers are not unaware of the high quality of Korean movies.

So, Indians do what Indians do best – They steal unabashedly.

Bollywood mongrels stole the South Korean cult movie Oldboy and turned it into Zinda. There’s another Korean film that’s been filched by Indian film-makers but we can’t remember the title now.

Our introduction to South Korean cinema came fairly recently, thanks to the cornucopia at Netflix.

Having watched a bunch of them, we’re on a Korean high.

A couple of weeks back, we watched I Saw the Devil to much delight. Before that it was The Good, the Bad and the Weird that charmed us.

One of the interesting aspects of Korean films is the dexterous use of lighting to make for stunning visual appeal.

Although cinema is obviously a visual medium, most Indian directors have lost sight of that simple fact, bedazzled and captive as they are to the high-profile stars who have laid waste to Indian cinema.

Some of the South Korean films have special lighting directors whose names are highlighted in the credits. Instead of importing stuntsmen and special effects folks from the West, Indian cinema would be greatly enriched by learning from the lighting specialists of South Korea.

The positive experience from our Korean sojourns only served to whet our appetite for more.

So, over the last couple of days we watched two more Korean films: The Chaser and The Man from Nowhere.

The Chaser

We stumbled upon The Chaser as we were scrolling through the foreign movies section of Netflix Instant Play.

Directed by Na Hong-jin, The Chaser (2008) features Kim Yoon-seok as a pimp and Ha Jeong-woo as the sadistic serial killer.

Fine Crime Thriller
Voila, again we hit pay-dirt.

The Chaser is a fine gripping crime thriller along the lines of the revenge story I Saw the Devil.

Both films feature a psychopathic, sadistic killer of young women.

But in The Chaser the psychopathic serial killer Je Yeong-min (Ha Jeong-woo) plays second fiddle to a pimp Joong-Ho (played very well by Kim Yoon-seok) who was a cop before being fired for corruption.

When the pimp’s girls start disappearing and the pressure from his financiers starts mounting, Joong-Ho goes out looking for reasons.

The story is gripping, the screenplay taut, the acting impressive and photography excellent.

It’s interesting that the audience is in on the depraved nature of Je Yeong-min long before the pimp realizes the enormity of the horror he ultimately comes face to face.

The Chaser is a horrendously violent film that involves hammering people to death with a chisel and chopping them off piece by piece. So, if you have a weak constitution we suggest you skip it.

We can’t wait to watch Na Hong-jin’s following movie The Yellow Sea.

The Man from Nowhere

This one is a typical action film where one angry man goes all out against a bunch of drug peddlers and organ harvesters.

When a quiet pawnshop owner’s young neighbor is kidnapped by drug smugglers and organ harvesters, the man who ‘only lives for today’ goes all out to save the little girl from the brutal thugs who ‘only live for tomorrow.’

But it’s no easy battle for our pawnshop man, he with the hair falling on his face. For more than a third of the film, you don’t even see his face.

Won Bin as the pawnshop fellow Cha Tae-sik and Kim Sae-ron as the little girl So-mi throw in powerful performances, adding to the allure of this superb action film.

Lee Jeong-beom is the director of this 2010 movie that did very well at the box office in South Korea.

Be warned though that the violence in this movies too is horrific and not for the faint of heart.

Once all ye schmucks watch movies of the class of The Chaser, The Man from Nowhere or I Saw the Devil, you’ll realize most Indian directors are jokers. Or maybe you putzheads won’t.

By the way, both Chaser and The Man from Nowhere have, not surprisingly, picked up a whole bunch of awards.

SearchIndia.com strongly recommends The Chaser and The Man from Nowhere. Both are available on DVD and Instant Play at Netflix.

Related Content:
The Berlin File
I Saw the Devil
The Good, the Bad and the Weird
Cinema of Korea

14 Responses to "Damn, Koreans Make Great Crime Movies"

  1. vjcool   June 27, 2011 at 1:42 am

    The best cannot be “remade” in India, but they target the average Korean flicks for “inspiration”, hope you’ve watched ‘Pattiayal’ it was pretty good for a Tamil film, and i was going goo goo ga ga over it when someone informed me its ‘heavily inspired ‘ by Bangkok Dangerous.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    No, we ain’t seen no Pattiyal or Mattiyal or Sattiyal.

    The Wiki profile of Pattiyal mentions right in the opening paragraph that it’s inspired by Bangkok Dangerous.

    But we’ve seen Bangkok Dangerous. We thought we’d reviewed it too. Alas, we can’t seem to find it in our Hollywood reviews section.

  2. vjcool   June 27, 2011 at 2:20 am

    On an off note… have you seen ‘Delicatessen‘ by Jean-Pierre Jeunet… this is a classic post apocalyptic comedy and is very well done , crisp and flavorful. You’ll love it and remember to post a review. BTW ‘V’ are vaiting for a review..

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    No, we haven’t.

    We’ll watch Delicatessen either tonight or tomorrow. It’s on Netflix Instant Play. So no issues.

    Looks pretty gory and interesting too from the brief description on Netflix! A Romantic-Crime film! Who’d have thought that.

    BTW, V went to the Blockbuster & Red Box kiosks yesterday to get V. Both didn’t have it. So, V’ll have to vait for Netflix. Definitely, this week. V swear on Boopalan! 😉

  3. guruji   June 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Another Korean movie worth watching would be “Old Boy”. Has a very interesting plot – remade in Hindi as “Zinda”, featuring Sanjay Dutt.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:


    Mentioned in above post.

  4. rama dasa   June 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    off topic: i just finished wendy’s book”hindus an alternative history” and quite frankly i can find a whole lot to complain about.if anyone does decide to buy it,buy it in paperback,you’ll be glad you did(as much as i enjoyed it,it’s just not worth the extra $ for hardcover).damn thing took me the about two months to read(it’s almost,no wait,it IS about 700 pages long)!

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    What’s her core argument on Hinduism and what do you agree/disagree with?

    • rama dasa   June 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      That Swami Vevekanandaji (yes thats how i spelled it) ate beef and was addicted to wacky tabacky, that ramayana was composed either before 200 bce or that the lanka mentioned was not sri lanka but somewhere else,if the latter than probably somewhere on our side of the world. She authenticates the Mahabharat war as a historical event as well as some of the myths associated with shiva(him cutting off daksha’s head and later becoming THE god of the sacrifice).

      The only thing i disagree w/is some of the things she states about gaurangadevji-nityanandaji which she herself states “there is no reliable evidence for any of this(claims made that nityananda associated with pro’s and stooges in order to convert them to vaishnavism)” thus making the whole thing sound stupid.I like how she incorporates things most hindus wouldnt dream of,like dasharatha being “addicted to sex” from kaikeyi or laxmanji desiring sitaji (she says sitaji thought laxmanji wanted her for himself,which he denies and later builds a fire and walks through it with a screaming child unharmed to prove his chastity to ram and then becomes a tribal thus turning a sutee into something different).I also like how she incorporates sanskrit-english swear phrases like”maithunya-you”! etc. in her book.

      Good read i thought.overall i would not recommend this book to anyone belonging to either the bjp or rss or any of its affiliates. Also she declares that “if cows are sacred in hinduism,so are goats,snakes,horses,birds (garuda’s),dogs and talking monkey’s (she says the references to monkeys in ramayana are actually in reference to tribal people). Overall not too bad.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      You write: she says the references to monkeys in Ramayana are actually in reference to tribal people

      You think Wendy could be referring to Tamils here?

      After all, the Tamils home-land is on the way to Sri Lanka. 😉

      Also, Laxmanji would have to be gay not to lust after Sitaji.

      And if Dasaratha was indeed addicted to sex, what would Wendy think of Draupadi in Mahabharat? 😉

      All in all, looks like an interesting book on Hinduism.

      Well, every religion has its nonsense. BTW, what is the religion that has a mythical figure called Jesus being born of a virgin or the story of his resurrection.

      • rama dasa   June 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

        BTW she does indeed talk alot about draupadiji’s polyandry (more than one husband) and defends her saying “how much different india would be today if it’s women took not sita as their role model but draupadi”???

        As far as Tamils go,she says some Tamils worship Raavan as a righteous king and consider Raam a “north indian (aryan) demon”, also some people in maharastra have built temples with only sita in them to commemorate her wandering alone after being banished and consider her a symbol of women’s freedom.

        She also talks about shashi tharoor’s mahabharat aka “the great indian novel” where karna is a muslim,dhritarastra is nehru,duryodhana is indira gandhi and bhishma is who else but mahatma gandhiji.

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        1. You write: As far as Tamils go, she says some Tamils worship Raavan as a righteous king and consider Raam a “north indian (aryan) demon”,

        Some decades back in Tamil Nadu, we’d seen public processions of some Tamils hurling slippers at Rama’s photos and offering garlands to Raavan’s picture. No kidding!

        If you think Incredible India is weird, Tamil Nadu is weirder. If a film actress has big tatas, they build a temple for her. Honest! We swear on Sita! 😉

        2. Shashi Tharoor’s Great Indian Novel is hilarious. Strongly recommended. It should be in your county library or on Half.com for less than a buck.

  5. 1012900   June 30, 2011 at 2:58 am

    “Of course, crooked Indian film-makers are not unaware of the high quality of Korean movies”

    Not just Korean, they are aware of the high quality of all foreign movies including the ones from Hollywood. If not, they’d not be stealing these movies. Ok, they are stealing, but can’t these fools atleast try and make an effort to hide the source of the movie? They don’t, making a wrong assumption that the people of TN are greater fools.

    I don’t see any signs that indicate a change in the quality of movies in India, maybe better thefts, but not original movies. So, I guess we must be content by watching these foreign movies.

    Btw, have you seen The Prestige? A wonderful movie by Christopher Nolan. Christian Bale surprised me. He was far better than he was in Batman.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. Indian moviegoers for the most part don’t care about copying, quality of acting and such stuff.

    Otherwise, movies like Saroja, Ghajini, Ready and countless other movies wouldn’t have found favor with the audience.

    2. You write: Btw, have you seen The Prestige?

    The Prestige Review – Good but Not Great

    • 1012900   June 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

      The screenplay was the best thing about Prestige. I do tend to disagree with you about the acting. Maybe it’s because you’ve seen much better acting in other quality movies, but for someone in India who is getting sick of the trash here, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale both rendered an oscar-worthy performance (by Indian standards that is)

      Btw, Is Mani Ratnam inspired by Christopher Nolan? All of Nolan’s movies had a very off beat story and unusual themes (Memento, Insomnia, Prestige, Inception, Dark Knight). Mani Ratnam tries a similar act. He makes movie with supposedly offbeat stories and themes (Forget Raavanan and Thalapathi). Take his other movies like Anjali, Ayudha Ezhuthu, Mouna Ragam, Roja, Bombay. All these have offbeat stories. But the difference is, where Nolan succeeds, Mani Ratnam fails, and he fails miserably.

      Nolan’s major strength is that he can perfectly(for the most part) weave a tight script and non linear screenplay together and make a wonderful movie whereas Mani Ratnam would probably fail if he tried to do the same.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      1. Mani Ratnam’s best hope now is to dump the Abhisheks and Aishwaryas and look for competent actors.

      Then, hunt for decent scripts.

      2. Dark Knight was hardly unusual. It fit in well within the Batman framework. And we thought Inception was drivel.

      • tiramisu   August 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

        May I also suggest Iranian movies here. The Koreans excel in dark,urban,gory themed movies, the Iranians seem to make good movies with themes in human suffering, pain, realities of life and children. NF seems to have an ok collection, recommend starting with Abbas Kirostami directed ones.

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        Will watch Abbas Kirostami’ Ten soon.

  6. முனிAndy   August 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    What happened to the Paki Dosa post.. did you get a Fatwa?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Shoved it inside.

  7. vjcool   August 29, 2011 at 1:11 am

    offtopic: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Gulshan-Grover-wins-best-actor-at-NY-fest/Article1-738104.aspx

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Seen Gulshan Grover in a lot of Hindi films.

    He’s alright but usually lands up with some poorly etched role of a baddie.

  8. vjcool   August 29, 2011 at 1:42 am


    this and its sequel


    seems like the inspiration to ‘Taare Zameen Par’

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    The Singapore films look interesting.

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