drama (드라마 영화) A-H

Here you will find reviews of Korean drama films (드라마 영화). Please click on the picture or title, and you will be taken to the review.

Another Family (또 하나의 약속)

Another Family (또 하나의 약속)

Another Promise (Another Family) (또 하나의 약속) – ★★★☆☆

Another Promise (AKA Another Family) (또 하나의 약속) is an important landmark in Korean cinematic history as the first fully crowdfunded film. Based on the true story of a girl who contracted leukemia by working at a Samsung plant and her father’s fight for justice. The result is a highly emotionally charged drama, yet the addition of melodramatic contrivances tends to undermine the film’s message. Yet thanks to a career best performance by Park Cheol-min, Another Promise is a consistently compelling film.”

The Attorney (변호인)

The Attorney (변호인)

The Attorney (변호인) – ★★★★☆

“Based on the early years of former president Roh Moo-hyun, The Attorney (변호인) is a powerful and utterly absorbing court room drama. Director Yang Woo-seok’s debut is wonderfully structured and character-centered, with the exploration of human rights abuses during the Chun Doo-hwan regime naturally emerging through the story that unfolds. Featuring a brilliant performance by Song Kang-ho as the titular lawyer, The Attorney is a timely and poignant film that cannot fail to incite emotional resonance.”

Bad Guy (나쁜 남자)

Bad Guy (나쁜 남자)

Bad Guy (나쁜 남자) - ★★★☆☆

“As is to be expected with auteur Kim Ki-duk, Bad Guy (나쁜 남자) contains an explosive and controversial mix of social, gendered and sexual relationships. His artistic merits are not as pronounced as with his other works, yet the challenging narrative explores the issues of the red-light district well. The misogynistic content will not win over feminists or critics of his work, yet Bad Guy remains a simultaneously fascinating and appalling viewing experience.”

Barbie (바비)

Barbie (바비)

Barbie (바비) – ★★★★☆

Barbie (바비) is a highly compelling and poignant drama from director Lee Sang-woo that explores an incredible array of social issues within contemporary Korea. The focus is squarely on interrogating the family unit, yet the inclusion of international adoption allows for an expansion in highlighting a variety of socio-cultural themes and issues. Barbie serves as a powerful reminder of the issues facing those in poverty and leaves an indelible impression.”

Bleak Night (파수꾼)

Bleak Night (파수꾼)

Bleak Night (파수꾼) –  ★★★★★

Bleak Night would be considered an incredible achievement for a seasoned director, but for first-time writer/director/editor Yoon Sung-hyun it is a monumental and career forging film. His creative and technical prowess, combined with three young and talented actors, have earned Bleak Night notable accolades. Bleak Night is proof that an enormous budget and stars are not necessary in creating a compelling drama, and is highly recommended.”

Come Rain Come Shine (사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다)

Come Rain Come Shine (사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다)

Come Rain Come Shine (사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다) – ★★★★☆

Come Rain Come Shine (사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다) is a tender, thought-provoking, and sensitive portrayal of the final moments in the break-down of a marriage. Due to the slow-paced and meditative filmic style of director Lee Yoon-ki, the film will not satisfy audiences with expectations of melodrama and comedy, or an amalgamation thereof.  However, the realism conveyed through the masterful use of mise-en-scene and long takes, in conjunction with the subtle and highly poignant performances, make Come Rain Come Shine a powerful film about the tenderness of loss.”

Dance Town (댄스타운)

Dance Town (댄스타운)

Dance Town (댄스 타운) – ★★★★☆

Dance Town is a bleak and disturbing character study by director Jeon Kyu-hwan, one that reveals city life as cruel and barbaric. Furthermore, the film is politically charged as Jung-rim’s life in Pyongyang is represented far better than the supposedly ‘great’ life offered by the capitalist South. Dance Town is so raw, and Jung-rim’s journey so poignant, that the film will stay with audiences long after the finale and encourage those living in cities to ponder their own existence.”

Dear Dolphin (환상속의 그대)

Dear Dolphin (환상속의 그대)

Dear Dolphin (환상속의 그대) – ★★★☆☆

“One of the big winners at JIFF 2013, Dear Dolphin is a very attractive film that deals with the issues of love, loss, and grief. Director Kang Jina (강진아) explores such weighty topics well by constructing the fragility of each protagonist as unique according to their psychology. Yet with a great performance by Lee Yeong-jin (이영진), as well as some truly beautiful sequences involving potent water symbolism, Dear Dolphin is a thought-provoking film on the nature of life, death, and spirituality.”

Director's CUT (디렉터스 컷)

Director’s CUT (디렉터스 컷)

Director’s CUT (디렉터스 컷) – ★★☆☆☆

Director’s CUT is an interesting drama exploring the difficulties of working as an independent filmmaker. The sense of realism and industry issues explored by writer/director Park Joon-bum form the core strength of the film, yet it is greatly impaired by an unlikable central protagonist.”

A Frozen Flower (쌍화점)

A Frozen Flower (쌍화점)

A Frozen Flower (쌍화점) – ★★★☆☆

A Frozen Flower is a wonderfully sexy tale of love and lust during the Goryeo dynasty. Through skilled use of costume, colour and appearance, director Yoo Ha plays with the notion of gender while exploring the relationships between the King, Queen and Chief bodyguard central to the film, conveying palpable passion through confrontational and sexual scenes. Yet the limited scale does however exude a TV drama sensibility throughout the running time. A Frozen Flower is a highly enjoyable and racy story of debauchery.”

Godsend (신의 선물)

Godsend (신의 선물)

Godsend (신의 선물) - ★★★☆☆

Godsend is a compelling attempt at a contemporary nativity story of sorts, directed by Kim Ki-duk protege, Moon Si-hyun. Exploring the issues of pregnancy and surrogacy, the film shines when depicting the burgeoning relationship between the two central female protagonists.”

Han Gong-ju (한공주)

Han Gong-ju (한공주)

Han Gong-ju (한공주) – ★★★★★

Han Gong-ju is a rare gem of independent cinema. Director Lee Su-jin has crafted an extraordinary tale of a girl struggling to reconcile with a traumatic past, who courageously confronts further social injustices in her attempt to do so. Beautifully performed by Cheon Woo-hee her performance is one of the most emotive and powerful cinematic experiences of the year. Bold, insightful and heart-wrenching, Han Gong-ju is the must-see film of the year.”

Hanaan (하나안)

Hanaan (하나안)

Hanaan (하나안) – ★★★☆☆

Hanaan (하나안) deserves credit for exploring the oft-ignored plight of Korean immigrants abroad, highlighting their historical struggles of cultural assimilation. Director Pak Ruslan (박루슬란) employs effective use of purgatorial landscapes to emphasize inner turmoil, while the handheld camerawork conveys realism. However, the story is hampered by a rather unoriginal premise making the Korean-Uzbek co-production an intriguing, but lacking, crime drama.”

Hanji (달빛 길어올리기)

Hanji (달빛 길어올리기)

Hanji (달빛 길어올리기) - ★★★☆☆

Hanji (달빛 길어올리기) is a film based on a genuine love of Korean culture and tradition by auteur Im Kwon-taek. While at times the film can convey a rather educational, documentary tone the film emphasizes the importance of remembering and supporting cultural traditions as they are inherently tied to notions of identity. Hanji is poetic and philosophical, conveying that diligence and perseverance are highly rewarding experiences and serves as a love letter to a dying cultural tradition.”

The Housemaid (하녀) 1960

The Housemaid (하녀) 1960

The Housemaid (하녀) – ★★★★★

The Housemaid (하녀) is a landmark piece of filmmaking, one that captures the considerable array of socio-cultural anxieties of the era through the protagonists and mise-en-scene with incredible sophistication years ahead of its time. The narrative is timeless and enthralling in depicting the breakdown of family through betrayal. Such recognition is not stated in terms of national cinema, but as a classic on the global stage as The Housemaid deserves acknowledgment on an international scale.”

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