Watch These 10 Korean Movies Before the American Remake Ruins

Watch These 10 Korean Movies Before the American Remake Ruins

17.12.2021 Off By manager_1

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Parasite director Bong Jon-Ho says “…once the barrier of subtitles is removed (1 inch tall), you’ll be able to access many more incredible films.”

Many of these films are now available in streaming. There’s no shortage of films from Bong Joon Ho’s South Korea at the touch of a button. It’s easy to complain about the lack of originality in popular cinema culture. But there are countless movies that can be streamed with striking perspectives and styles.

American producers are naturally interested in all that and are planning to create English-language remakes to make foreign-language films more accessible to American audiences. This usually involves removing all cultural artifacts that make them unique and replacing them with Chris Pratt.

Train to Busan (soon the Last Train to New York), is the latest recipient of this treatment. You can watch Train to Busan, really. It’s excellent. It’s possible that the remake will be great, but there are reasons why the original was so popular. This is true for many South Korean films, as well as TV shows. The excellent Crash Landing on You, which became a streaming sensation earlier this year, will soon be getting an American version.

There are remakes of some of these films, others are under active speculation, and there are plenty of other popular films that are worth watching. Each one is worth seeing before Hollywood gets their hands on them.

Train to Busan (2016)

Yeon Sang-ho’s movie was perhaps the most successful South Korean film to enter the American market before Parasite. This set off an immediate bidding battle for the remake rights, which New Line won. Although the upcoming American version is titled Last Train to New York (a generic title), it may be fine. However, the title suggests that some of the original’s subtext will have been lost. Busan was, for instance, a refuge for Korean refugees during the Korean War. It’s difficult to imagine an American film incorporating the critiques of capitalism as well as the nods to working-class solidarity. It’s hard to imagine a remake of this heartfelt, compassionate, and bloody masterpiece about zombies.

Where to stream: Prime Video. Shudder. Fubo TV. The Roku Channel. Hoopla. Vudu. Tubi. Crackle. Pluto TV. Plex. It’s not difficult to find.

Villainess (2017)

Even though we aren’t exactly looking through the eyes Sook-hee’s enigmatic killer (played here by Ok-bin Kim), it’s still easy to be drawn in with a level kinetic, sometimes frantic and you’re-there urgency. Amazon Studios announced in July that they are working on an English-language series based on the film. However, Jung Byung-gil, the director, brings a unique, visceral and bloody style that is difficult to duplicate and even harder to improve.

Where to stream: Vudu. Hoopla. Hi-Yah TV. Plex

Night in Paradise (2020)

Park Hoon-jung, the director of the film, has a dark quality to his story about a gangster who is on the run and develops a friendship with the niece of an arms dealer. The film is a fascinating mix of ultraviolence, quiet rumination and beautifully presented meals. However, there is a dark inevitability that makes it appealing to remakes.

Where to stream: Netflix

Psychokinesis (2018)

Yeon Sangho, Train to Busan director, followed up the zombie film with another genre reinvention. He tackled superhero movies with an identical eye towards redefinition. This movie features a father who is a drunk and has the ability to control his mind using meteorite-infused water. There’s no spandex here. It’s no surprise that there are many superhero movies. One of them is about a middle-aged schlub who uses his powers to save his daughter’s failing chicken restaurant. Although it’s not as serious as Busan, it’s a lighthearted approach to a growing genre.

Where to stream: Netflix

Extreme Job (2019)

Another action comedy about a chicken restaurant is what you are looking for? No problem. Extreme Job, directed by Lee Byeongheon, is currently at the top of Korean box office records. Universal Pictures is therefore interested in a remake. It’s a charming, if not too silly, story about a group of drug officers who are given one last chance at completing their tasks. The group manages to get a prime stakeout spot in a local chicken restaurant but soon discover that the business has gone under.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Space Sweepers (2021)

Although it doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel, there is a refreshing focus upon the future underclasses without getting too far into the dystopian. Although I am not the only one to draw a parallel between Space Sweepers and Cowboy Bebop cartoons, it is not surprising that Netflix’s live action version of the cartoon failed quickly. It’s also not hard to believe that there will be a better representation of Bebop’s spirit of rag-tag family and outer space western environment here than in the live-action series that bore its name. This one is not original, but it has engaging characters and spectacular special effects. It is refreshing to see an American-centric view of the future, something that would be lost in a remake.

Where to stream: Netflix

The Box (2021)

The Box, a jukebox-style musical, was also wildly popular earlier in the year. It features a young, up-and-coming singer who embarks on a cross-Korea trip with a producer (think A Star is Born without the tragic love story). They perform or meet modern Korean pop songs along with American standards and current-ish hits from Coldplay and Billie Eilish. This proves that you don’t need to remake anything to connect with audiences across borders.

Where to stream: Prime Video

Pandora (2016)

Pandora is a classic disaster movie. It tells the story of a small group heroically fighting against nuclear meltdown. For American audiences, the movie’s perspective is what will make it stand out. Pandora is more interested in the (some genuinely stunning) action set pieces than Korean productions, but there is an undercurrent of anticapitalist social commentary all through the film.

Where to stream: Netflix

The Day After (2017)

The film, which has the same style as Scenes from a Marital, is directed by Hong Sang-soo and follows the story of the fall of a relationship after a mistaken identity. Although it might not be the first choice for remakes, it is a reminder that Korean cinema doesn’t just focus on high-concept films. These are only the most popular overseas. Hong’s emotional, quiet drama is just as representative of Korean cinema as any horror or action film.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

This one is more of a Korean filmmaker playing with western found footage horror tropes…although there’s an American remake in development, so. Gonjiam, South Korea’s original horror film, was extremely popular. It is a well-made and effective example of the sub-genre. As in real estate, the key is location. Jung Bum-shik, the director, and the rest of his crew meticulously recreated the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, Gwangju, which, according to legend, is one of the most haunted places in Korea. This is a terrifying setting to rescue the doomed crew of web series.

Where to stream: Digital rental