The Best South Korean Films You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we celebrate Bong Joon Ho’s big win at the Academy Awards with his masterpiece ‘Parasite’ by looking back at some lesser known gems from South Korea.)

History was made recently when a non-English language film won Best Picture at the Oscars for the very first time. Parasite absolutely deserves the honor, but even better, the win is moving people toward seeking out other South Korean films too.

Danielle Ryan already put together a fantastic primer featuring some of South Korea’s best known and beloved modern classics, and every one of them are worth finding and watching immediately. I’d add to that list a few more popular gems including Memories of Murder (2003), The Chaser (2008), The Good the Bad the Weird (2008), The Housemaid (2010), The Villainess (2017), and Extreme Job (2019), and I’ll also toss in a few lower profile titles I’ve previously highlighted with this very column including The Foul King (2000), Sex Is Zero (2002), Save the Green Planet (2003), 3-Iron (2004), The President’s Last Bang (2005), Breathless (2008), Private Eye (2009), Confession of Murder (2012), The Thieves (2012), Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013), Confidential Assignment (2017), A Taxi Driver (2017), and – look, I’ve recommended a lot of Korean films through this column.

And I’m about to suggest six more across varied genres, so please keep reading for a look at six of the best South Korean films you probably haven’t seen yet!

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we take a look at a new follow-up to an early Adam Sandler “gem.)

What are the odds anyone has talked about Bulletproof since its release in 1996? The film was something of a bomb both theatrically and critically – it’s at 8% on Rotten Tomatoes! – and while Adam Sandler went on to bigger and occasionally better things it essentially ended co-lead Damon Wayan’s movie career. Seriously, Wayans only has six film credits following Bulletproof, and they earned a combined total of $4.2 million.

Well, it turns out the answer to my rhetorical question is that no one has thought about Bulletproof until early 2019 when this column’s friends at Universal 1440 Entertainment conceived and produced the elegantly titled sequel, Bulletproof 2. It was birthed unto the world at the start of this year, and in true Bulletproof form no one is talking about it. A direct-to-video (or in this case Netflix) sequel that no one’s watching? Yeah, that’s my jam.

Keep reading for a look at Bulletproof 2 – a sequel set 25 years after the original in a world where the Bulletproof movie not only exists but is remembered as being terrible. So, set in the real world I guess?

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we go to war… in space!)

Paul Verhoeven is a filmmaker whose career has seen highs and lows, hits and misses, blockbusters and quiet indies, but the one constant is that his best film will always be Robocop (1987). This is not an article about Robocop, but it is about the big, action/sci-fi movie he made a decade later that echoes some of the same satirical stylings.

1997’s Starship Troopers is a loose adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s novel – an unrelated script was the film’s basis, and the studio simply bought the title rights from the novel before mashing the two together – but where the book is hardcore militaristic, Verhoeven’s film takes a more cynical, darkly humorous, and dismissive tone. It wasn’t quite the hit they hoped for, but its growth into a cult favorite helped spawn two live-action sequels that went straight to DVD/TV. So let’s be good citizens and give ’em a spin!

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The Best World War I Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we go back in time with some movies set during the war to end all wars.)

World War I doesn’t get as much love in theaters as its younger brother World War II, and while there’s no good reason for that I assume it’s simply because WWII offers a greater variety of locales and military hardware to explore. There have been some acclaimed ones over the years, though, from All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) to Paths of Glory (1957) and from A Very Long Engagement (2004) to Mata Hari (1985). Fine, one of those wasn’t quite as acclaimed as the others, but I’m just making sure you’re paying attention.

While the death toll ranges depending on your Google source — seriously, I found numbers from nine to twenty-five million — there’s a reason it was called “the war to end war.” Sure, that was a bit presumptuous, but the point remains that it was an epic conflict involving tens of millions of lives. You’d think we’d have more stories up on the big screen, but in lieu of quantity we at least have quality starting with Sam Mendes’ beautiful and brilliantly structured 1917 which is currently in limited release and absolutely worth your time. While you wait for that one to expand into your area, though, might I recommend a few older titles? I might, and I will if you keep reading.

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The Best Biopics You’ve Never Seen

Borg McEnroe

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we check out some under-seen movies about real people like you and me, but you know, better known for doing stuff.)

The end of the year is often considered to be prestige season when it comes to movies as studios roll out their classiest films in the hope of winning awards and accolades. The topics run the gamut, but a major presence every year are the biopics — as in pictures about biological humans, presumably — and this year is no different. Richard Jewell, Harriet, Seberg, and Ford v Ferrari are just a few of the biopics opening in the last two months of 2019, and some of them are even well worth the praise they’ve been receiving. (Hint: it’s the one with the fast cars.)

Not all biopics have been as lucky, though, as a crowded field over the years has seen plenty of great ones fade into memory. That’s right, I’m still furious that so many of you slept on the masterpiece that is Borg vs McEnroe (2017). Lucky for you I’m here to point you towards a few of those lesser seen gems. So keep reading for a look at six of the best biopics you’ve probably never seen!

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we go bank robbing with Nazis in a sequel to the biggest Spike Lee joint of them all.)

Spike Lee’s film career is filled with highs and lows, films that won critical acclaim and awards and others that have been forgotten, but he’s never been a filmmaker prone to breaking the box-office. The sole exception, and his only film to gross over $100 million, is 2006’s Inside Man. Lee’s direction, alongside a stellar cast, a tight script, and a respectable budget, resulted in a film that succeeded with critics (certified fresh!) and audiences ($184m worldwide!) alike.

It’s a Universal Pictures release too which means that now, thirteen years later, the studio’s home video division has spun off a direct to video sequel. It’s not their first – and will be far from their last as follow-ups to both Sudden Death (1995) and Bulletproof (1996) are currently in post-production – but it is their most surprising. Look, it’s possible that having to endure movies like Backdraft II (2019) and Benchwarmers II: Breaking Balls (2019) has just broken me, but Inside Man: Most Wanted is actually… okay?

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The 10 Best International Action Movies of the Decade

Best International Action Movies of the Decade

(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)

Movies in general need a lot of different elements to go right for the end product to excel, but genre films typically require one above all else. Comedies should amuse/or make you laugh. Horror films should leave you unsettled, disturbed, and/or darkly delighted. And action movies should thrill audiences through their use of motion and impact. This past decade has been fantastic for films of all kinds, but it’s been especially rewarding for fans of action cinema.

Many of the decade’s big names in the genre are English-language endeavors belonging to franchises like John Wick, Mission: Impossible, and Mad Max, but for the best action movies – the ones that take the most advantage of both the strength and fragility of human bodies – you typically need to look overseas. Budgets are typically far smaller than their American counterparts, but that just means their efforts need to be more focused. Fewer big stunts and EF-heavy set-pieces, and better brawls, cool choreography, and stylish fights.

English-language action films are being celebrated elsewhere on this site, so I’m stoked to point attention towards the best action movies from non-English countries. Limiting it to just ten films representing an entire decade wasn’t easy – hence the additional fourteen honorable mentions at the bottom – but it did highlight something that might surprise some people (even though it really shouldn’t). When it comes to fight-heavy action movies, Asian countries are kicking everyone else’s ass. South Korea, Indonesia, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are responsible for delivering epic amounts of flying fists, calamitous kicks, nifty knife-work, and gratuitous gun play, and we’re all better off for it. Keep reading for a look at the 10 best non-English action movies of the decade!

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we get down with a brand new sequel to an action/comedy from 2002.)

Some people love to argue against sequels as failing to honor the original or failing to bring anything new to the table, but sometimes the bigger issue is their existence at all. (The films, not the people wasting time arguing about movie sequels.) As in, why would anyone make a sequel to 2002’s Undercover Brother? Or, who out there is actually excited to see Undercover Brother 2?

I don’t have the answers to these questions despite years of research into the matter, but as a dedicated and masochistic columnist I have seen the film in question. If you’ve seen the original then you know the premise, but hopefully you’re not too attached to the cast, laughs, or budget as the follow-up is lacking all three. But enough with the chit chat. It’s time to get dirty, ya dig? Keep reading for a look at the sequel that couldn’t even lure Eddie Griffin back… Eddie freaking Griffin! It’s time for Undercover Brother 2.

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(Welcome to Seeing Double, a series where two strangely similar films released around the same time are put head-to-head. This time, we look skyward once again only to see big rocks filling our view, heading our way, and putting a countdown on life as we know it.)

We’re currently gizzard deep in the great aught streaming wars, and while it’s too early to declare an ultimate winner yet the odds are it will be one corporation or another. More interesting are the individual players taking part in this new world with the likes of Martin Scorsese and M. Night Shyamalan staking their claims alongside others like Mimi Leder and Michael Bay. Leder is currently an Executive Producer on Apple tv+’s The Morning Show and directed half of the first season’s episodes too, while Bay’s fourteenth feature film, 6 Underground, premieres on Netflix on December 13th.

Those two titles are aimed at slightly different demographics, but twenty one years ago the two filmmakers had a far more direct face-off as directors of competing summer blockbusters about giant rocks hurtling through space towards Earth. Deep Impact opened on May 8th, and Armageddon was unleashed on July 1st. Both movies are big ensemble disaster pictures featuring elite astronaut crews sent into orbit to intercept and blow up up the offending chunk of space debris, but they each approach the setup in different ways with different results.

Keep reading for a head to head look at Deep Impact and Armageddon.

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The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen About Bounty Hunters

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we take inspiration from a new streaming series that everyone’s talking about and explore some under-seen and under-loved tales about bounty hunters.)

The odds are pretty good that you’ve heard about the new Disney+ series The Mandalorian by now. It’s about a guy who wears a helmet to work only to discover that the helmet is actually wearing him. Heavy, right? He’s a bounty hunter tasked with bringing in certain beings, dead or alive, but he grows a conscience when asked to kill…something. I don’t know, I’ve only seen vague tweets so far, but the point is that it’s not easy being a bounty hunter.

It’s a perfectly legal career built on committing violent abductions for money, and that’s a character trait tailor made for the screen. The movies have embraced tales about bounty hunters over the years starting with westerns before moving into more modern crime stories and beyond, and while the character has become a character type it’s also resulted in movies ranging from great ones like Midnight Run (1988), True Grit (1969/2010), and Slow West (2015) to fun ones like Trancers (1985) and Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986).

Of course, there are some that fall into those two categories that have also fallen between the cracks, and that’s where this column comes in – keep reading for the best movies you’ve never seen about bounty hunters!

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