10 Best Korean DVD Rentals

Friday, January 28 by Claire Evora

Korean film has gained popularity in the U.S., and these 10 best Korean DVD rentals will give you a crash course in popular Korean cinema. While Korean films have a reputation for being unflinching in their depiction of violence, many on this list are also elegant and touching.

  1. "The Host." (2006) Watch as teenage girl Hyun-seo's family saves her from a giant mutant quid in this sci-fi, genre-bending quirky thriller.
  2. "Old Boy." (2003) This ultra-violent and emotional melodrama won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2004. After fifteen years of unexplained imprisonment, Dae-su is freed and goes on a five year revenge spree. Quentin Tarantino has called it his favorite Asian film ever. "Old Boy" is the first in the trilogy, followed by "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and "Lady Vengeance."
  3. "Mother." (2009) All is peaceful at the home of Mother and her son Do-joon until he is framed for the horrifying murder of a girl. How far will Mother go to prove her son's innocence?
  4. "Public Enemy." (2002) Full of black humor and rough and tumble, gritty scenes, Chul-joong is a corrupt cop who starts to suspect that Cho, a man he bonded with in an alleyway in the middle of the night, is the serial killer responsible for murdering his own elderly parents.
  5. "The Good, The Bad, The Weird." (2008) This is South Korea's answer to the Western. Three men living outside the law (one good, one bad, one weird) in 1940's Manchuria are on a race to fin buried treasure. It is violent and fun.
  6. "The Chaser." (2008) You'll see dirty cops in many of the ten best Korean DVD rentals, and this one is no exception. Joong-ho is this film's cop-turned-pimp, and he's hunting down the the client who has killed his "girls." The pimp turns tender when he cares for the frightened young daughter of one of his missing callgirls.
  7. "3 Iron." (2004) This sweet and offbeat film follows drifter Sun-hwa as he breaks into homes while the residents are on vacation. He does this not for malicious purposes, but to see life from different points of view. Sun-hwa executes small acts of kindness as repayment: doing their laundry, for example, or fixing things around the home. His own life changes when he meets the beautiful but unhappy resident of one of the well-appointed homes.
  8. "A Tale of Two Sisters." (2003) This disturbing ghost story tells of two sisters returning from a stay in a mental institution. Their father and mean stepmother await them at home, and truly creepy occurrences delay their recovery The American remake is called "The Uninvited." 
  9. "Tae Guk Gi." (2004) This is a wartime story of two brothers, Jin-tae and Jin-seok. When the younger brother is forced to fight in the Korean war, the older brother enlists to protect him, leading ultimately to a heartbreaking conclusion.
  10. "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring." (2003) Not only one of the one best Korean DVD rentals, but some consider this to be one of the most poignant and moving films ever made. It is worth several viewings in order to absorb the symbolism and Buddhist principles. The film is set in a beautiful, isolated wilderness where a wise, old monk raises a young boy who leaves the monastery to follow his love. There is breathtaking scenery throughout the universal, human themes.

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