The sequel to 2018’s Believer has left fans more than dissatisfied. It’s already an established fact that the only good thing about the film is Han Hyo-Joo’s performance, which has taken over social media for her badassery alone. The film attempts to fill the gaps like plastering over the Mona Lisa, making a terrible sequel to a well-received film. What made Believer a big hit was the impressive cast, the action-packed story that kept you on the edge of your seats, as well as the impactful ending. Believer 2 begins before that open ending, leading up to the moments there, and then completely ruins it. We suppose you can’t trust anything with Believer in the title right now. If you’re looking for some fantastic Korean thrillers to make yourself feel better after seeing this blunder, here’s the perfect list for you.
Let’s start with something piping hot and fresh. Netflix’s Ballerina is a 90-minute thrill ride that is visually sublime. Not only is this film an action-packed journey that constantly serves perfection, but also has a heartfelt story and delivers exactly what is expected of it. Ballerina tells the story of an ex-bodyguard whose friend ends up taking her own life after being sexually assaulted by a man who is part of a larger gang of offenders. The story follows said ex-bodyguard on her mission to get revenge for her best friend. This is the kind of revenge film that will make you wish for a bestie who would do anything for you and then some. Of course, we must talk about Jeon Jong-Seo, who plays vengeful Ok-Ju impeccably. Her innocent appearance, juxtaposed with her acting prowess, really adds to the thrill of it all. Ballerina is also a very short film and never drifts from the main plot.
The Drug King
The number one reason to watch 2018’s The Drug King is its astonishing ensemble cast of top-tier actors; Song Kang-Oh (Parasite), Jo Jung-Suk (Hospital Playlist), and Bae Doona (The Host). The film is inspired by the real-life events of a Busan-based notorious drug lord back in the 1970s. There’s nothing new here; The Drug King does have a very familiar premise and a predictable story, but it’s the small details that make this film worth watching. If you’re looking for a stylish, run-of-the-mill rags-to-riches to an ultimate downfall story, then go for this one. Song Kang-Oh never disappoints, and in this character study, he continues to grab attention and keep us intrigued.
I Saw The Devil
Many will say this is the best Korean thriller movie out there, or even the best thriller ever made, and for good reason. Directed by Kim Jee-Woon, who also happened to have made one of the best Korean horror films, The Tale of Two Sisters, the film seamlessly incorporates his horrifying magic into an action-horror hybrid. This is a film like no other and establishes an intense cat-and-mouse chase between a vengeful lover and a terrifying psychopath. But, before you step into this terrifyingly dark world, remember that it is not for the weak-hearted. Nah, it’s not just a film about torture; there’s torture in watching it too. Be warned, and take the risk only if you’re ready for it. These are performances you’ll never forget, and this is a film that will keep you hooked long after it’s over.
Memories Of Murder
Between I Saw the Devil and Memories of Murder, there’s always a debate about which is the best from Korean cinema. Personally, I’d say this film is more universal, while still managing to be unnerving, exciting, and disgusting. Bong Joon-Ho’s Memories of Murder is based on real-life events about a serial killer back in the 80s whose story took the world by storm. This is a film that proves why there’s nobody else like Bong in the industry. What’s astonishing is how this movie mixes genres and creates such an immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re actually a part of the unfolding events. Don’t bother getting popcorn because you’re not going to be able to peel your eyes even for a moment.
Deliver Us From Evil
Let’s calm things down a little bit after those two masterpieces. Deliver Us From Evil is a 2020 film that follows the story of a retired serial killer who finds himself on a new mission involving a young girl and human trafficking. This film is all about action, and it stars Lee Jung-Jae, who became immensely popular worldwide after his work in Squid Game, along with Hwang Jung-Min, who has marked his territory in this genre of film. The two teamed up again after 2013’s New World, another fan favorite. Along with being a story about a man on a mission, this film is also a revenge tale, which makes it much more enticing, specifically because of the chemistry between these two characters. If you’re just looking for ruthless action, this is the film to go for.
2020’s The Call is a genre-bender with a tinge of sci-fi mixed with a mystery-thriller. The film connects two women who live in the same house 20 years apart from each other. But there’s an underlying twist—there’s a serial killer in the mix. Imagine Back to the Future 2, but really dark and twisted. Yes, The Call is at best a 3.5-star movie because the ending is a little bit confusing and might leave you slightly annoyed, but it’s still worth watching, especially for the incredible performances by Park Shin-Hye and Jeon Jong-Seo. The way these two characters play off of each other is absolutely enchanting, and in another world, this could’ve been a really cute film about besties. Alas, it’s a thriller about a woman from the past messing with the future, and it is gripping!
While there’s a plethora of Korean action thrillers, these are some we’d definitely recommend. Believer 2 may have been a disappointment, but these films will definitely leave you appreciating the genre again.