Top Korean Action Movies

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post by EonTalk! Today, I have prepared the written version of my favorites list of Korean action movies!

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As with the previous posts, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Korean action films that I believe are definitely worth checking out. Whereas the thrillers content had my top 10 list, this Actions List will be composed of my top 15. Why did I choose to go with top 15? Because I found that there were a lot of overlapping movies with the other content I made. And so with this post, I’ll have the movies I mentioned before in other content in the beginning five (so number 15 to 11 will be of movies I mentioned in previous content). From the Top 10 will be new movies that I hadn’t talked about much of in previous content. Also, as with my other Best Korean Movies lists, I’ll be explaining some basic background info regarding the films, giving a short synopsis/description of the movies, but won’t be giving any in-depth reviews.

Please remember that this list consists of not only my favorite action movies, but also ones that I thought were deserving of more recognition. These are composed of MY, PERSONAL favorites. They are subjective to my biased opinions and are based on my personal taste. If you have differing views and opinions, please respectfully leave them in the comments, and if you would like to further the discussions, join the EonTalk Telegram group, where you can talk about Korean movie-related topics with a lot of K-film enthusiasts. 

That being said, let’s jump into today’s video on Best Korean action movies! (#15~#11 are movies mentioned before in other content)


Starting off the list, the #15 film is the 2017 film <The Outlaws>.

<The Outlaws> stars Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, Yoon Kye-Sang, Cho Jae-Yoon, Choi Kwi-Hwa, Lim Hyung-Jun, Jin Seon-Kyu, Hong Ki-Jun, Huh Dong-Won, and Park Ji-Hwan, and was directed by Kang Yoon-Sung, who also directed <Long Live the King>. The film is based on true stories that took place in 2004 Seoul, which makes the film that much more intriguing. The movie not only has Don Lee’s incredible action performance, but really showcased Yoon Kye-Sang as a chilling villain. It’s Yoon Kye-Sang that had a very memorable performance, and his catchphrase was a trend for a while following this movie. Furthermore, this really marked the start in major popularity for Jin Seong-Kyu. The synopsis of <The Outlaws> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
In 2004, a vicious boss of a new crime organization, Jang-Chen, comes to Seoul from Harbin and overthrows the existing gangs. In order to catch the upcoming thug, the beastly cop, Ma Suk-Do, who’s famous for using his fist to maintain peace in the neighborhood, and his team plan a strategy to end the reign of the recently-formed gang.


The #14 movie goes to the 2015 film, <Veteran>.

<Veteran> had an incredible cast of Hwang Jung-Min, Yoo Ah-In, Yoo Hae-Jin, Oh Dal-Soo, Jang Yoon-Joo, Jung Woong-In, and Jung Man-Shik, and I’ve mentioned <Veteran> many times in my other videos. The film was directed by Ryu Seung-Wan, who also directed <The Battleship Island>, <The Berlin File>, and <The Unjust>, and features the famous line by Yoo Ah-In and incredible acting performances by all the main leads. Fun fact, Don Lee makes a cameo appearance in <Veteran>, and leaves a strong impression in the short time he’s on screen. Also, Park So-Dam, who starred in <Parasite>, had a small role in this movie as well. The synopsis of <Veteran> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
The notorious ‘Crime Investigation Team,’ known for being fearless, persistent, and flawless, successfully completes another case that they’ve been working long and hard on. ‘Seo Do-Chul,’ a hardheaded member of the team, goes out in celebration to a club and meets ‘Cho Tae-Oh,’ a son of a Chaebol, in a VIP room. Do-Chul gets a strange feeling about Tae-Oh, and his instincts tell him to have a close watch on him. And sure enough, he begins to see connections between Tae-Oh and a serious incident that takes place involving a mutual acquaintance. As Do-Chul takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of the case, he’s constantly warned by Tae-Oh’s team and even his supervisors to back down. But he stops at noone’s threats, and aspires to take Tae-Oh down to bring justice to the system.


Next, the #13 film is the movie that placed Korean cinema on the global map, <Train to Busan>.

This zombie film was released back in 2016, and stars the likes of Gong Yoo, Jung Yoo-Mi, Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, Kim Soo-Ahn, Kim Eui-Sung, Choi Woo-Shik, and Ahn So-Hee. The movie was directed by Yeon Sang-Ho, who also directed <Psychokinesis>, as well as the sequel to <Train to Busan>, <Peninsula>. <Train to Busan> will also be remade in Hollywood, I believe, which I’m looking forward to, but highly doubt will live up to the Korean <Train to Busan> name. The synopsis of the movie is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
A state of emergency is announced as an unknown virus spreads throughout South Korea. On a train bound for a southern city of Korea, known as Busan, that’s also known to be a safeground from the virus, various circumstances arise. What seemed to be a normal train ride, turns into a 442km battle of survival. 


Moving along, the #12 movie is the 2010-released action film, <The Man from Nowhere>.

This is one of the action films of Korea, as it has one of the best performances by the main lead actor, Won-Bin. His head shaving scene is one of the most memorable scenes of Korean cinema. Starring alongside Won-Bin were Kim Se-Ron, Kim Tae-Hoon, Kim Hee-Won, Kim Sung-Oh, Lee Jong-Pil, and Thanayong Wongtrakul, and the movie was directed by Lee Jung-Bum, who also did <Jo Pil-Ho: The Dawning Rage> and <No Tears for the Dead>. This is another movie that I believe is getting a Hollywood remake, but as with <Train to Busan>, doubt will live up to the original’s name. The synopsis of <The Man from Nowhere> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
Tae-Shik is a former special agent who lost his wife and unborn child due to an unfortunate accident, and is now living a lonely life, running a pawn shop. One of his frequent visitors of the pawn shop is a young girl that lives next doors to him, Somi. One day, Somi suddenly disappears. She was kidnapped because her mother was involved in a crime incident involving some bad people. In order to save his only friend, Tae-Shik chases after the people who took Somi, and sets up a deal with the organization. However, he’s unable to rescue Somi, and the cops start chasing after Tae-Shik’s tail. 


The #11 movie is the oldest film on this list, <Old Boy>.

<Old Boy> is not only a great action film, but is also an incredible thriller and mystery movie as well. The film stars Choi Min-Shik, Yoo Ji-Tae, Kang Hye-Jung, Kim Byung-Ok, Oh Dal-Soo, and Yoon Jin-Seo, and was directed by one of Korea’s most well-known directors, Park Chan-Wook. Park Chan-Wook also directed other great films such as <Joint Security Area>, <The Handmaiden>, <Thirst>, and <Sympathy For Lady Vengeance>. <Old Boy> has one of the best twists, and has numerous memorable scenes. The film was remade in 2013 by Director Spike Lee, but ultimately failed to do any damage at the box offices. Just another reason to support my previous claim that the remakes won’t do the originals justice. Anyways, the synopsis of the film is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
In 1988, a normal man who lives with his wife and daughter, Oh Dae-Su, wakes up one day to find himself in an unknown room. Dae-Su tries to escape, and even attempts to kill himself, while being imprisoned, but he fails to do so. He spends years trying to find the reason as to why the people that imprisoned him, did so, but he’s unable to come to a conclusion.  As his days in solitude grows, his anger with the people who kidnapped grows as well, and he swears that he’ll take revenge on those that destroyed his life. 15 years pass, and he is released from the room. What makes things even more confusing, is the fact that he was left with a wallet full of money, and a mobile phone. An unknown man calls Dae-Su, and tells him to figure out why he was imprisoned. Then, a young lady, Mido, comes into his life, and promises to help him get his revenge. The two start chasing after the mystery of Dae-Su’s imprisonment, but the reality is much more shocking, than either one of them could’ve imagined. 

(Reminder: #15~#11 were movies mentioned many times in other content before; from hereon out, #10~#1 are movies that weren’t mentioned as much in other content before)


Coming in at #10 of my list of favorite Korean action films is the most recently released movie, <Ashfall>.

Starring Lee Byung-Hun, Ha Jung-Woo, Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, Jun Hye-Jin, Suzy, Lee Sang-Won, Ok Ja-Yeon, Han Soo-Hyun, Kang Shin-Chul, and Kim Si-Ah, <Ashfall> had two directors: Lee Hae-Jun and Kim Byung-Seo. Lee Hae-Jun also directed <My Dictator> and <Castaway on the Moon>, and Kim Byung-Seo directed <Cold Eyes>. To be completely honest, the movie didn’t have a very good story, but the acting and the action were definitely great. It’s a little disappointing that they couldn’t have made a better film with the amazing cast it had. Anyways, the synopsis of <Ashfall> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
One of the biggest explosions in Korean history occurs as Mt. Baekdu erupts, and the Korean peninsula turns into chaos. With more explosions expected to follow, Jeon Yoo-Kyung plans an operation to stop the eruptions, based on the theories of Professor Kang. Taking lead of the operation is the Special Forces Agent Jo In-Chang, and he’s able to make contact with Ri Joon-Pyeong, an agent in the North Korean forces who holds the key to completing the mission. However, things don’t go as planned, and with the explosions of Mt. Baekdu nearing, the South and North Korean agents must do whatever it takes to save the people of the Korean peninsula.


Moving onto the #9 spot, the #9 movie goes to the 2018 film <Unstoppable>.

This crime-action movie stars one of the most iconic action stars of Korean cinema, Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, as well as Song Ji-Hyo, Kim Sung-Oh, Kim Min-Jae, Park Ji-Hwan, and Lee Sung-Woo. The film was directed by Kim Min-Ho, who made his feature-film debut with <Unstoppable>, and although the main leads Don Lee and Song Ji-Hyo were great, the villain role played by Kim Sang-Oh was very chilling, and was reminiscent of his protagonist role in the #12 movie of this list, <The Man from Nowhere>. The synopsis of <Unstoppable> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
After having a rough and thuggish life, Dong-Chul shifts his life around 180 degrees after meeting his wife, Jisoo. He now lives a normal, dedicated life, working at a local fish market. That is, until his wife is taken by unknown men. A report is filed with the police, but nothing really comes of it. Suddenly, he receives a call from the kidnapper. However, this abduction is different from common ones; rather than the abductor asking for ransom money, he instead gives Dong-Chul a hefty amount of cash as payment for taking his wife. Enraged by this, Dong-Chul starts to track down the suspects in order to get his wife back, with a vengeance to show that he’s not someone to be messed with.


Next, the #8 spot is the 2016 film, <Master>.

<Master> is another crime-action film, and stars the likes of Lee Byung-Hun, Kang Dong-Won, Kim Woo-Bin, Uhm Ji-Won, Oh Dal-Soo, and Jin Kyung, and was directed by Cho Eui-Seok, who also directed <Cold Eyes> and <The World of Silence>. If you are like me and love Korean crime films, I definitely recommend checking this out. The synopsis of <Master> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
The Chariman of One Network, Jin, is a conman who has cheated tens of thousands of people with his eloquent rhetoric, deceptive talent, and political connections. The head of the Intelligence Crime Team, Kim Jae-Myung who’s been tracking Chairman Jin for half a year, pressures the Chariman’s close colleague, Park Jang-Goon, to revealing Chairman Jin’s lobby records. Jang-Goon, who’s the brains of One Network, senses something fishy, and starts to think on his feet. Jae-Myung, who’s determined to reveal the truth of Chairman Jin and all of the people with power helping him;  Jang-Goon, who plans to turn this problem into an opportunity while making some money; And Chairman Jin, who realizes there are people working against him, and starts planning a new strategy; Who will come out on top?


The #7 goes to the 2019 film, <The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil>.

The movie was directed by Lee Won-Tae, who also directed <Man of Will>, and <The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil> stars Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, Kim Mu-Yeol, and Kim Sung-Kyu, and as you can probably tell by now, Don Lee is an icon when it comes to Korean action films. This is his 5th movie on the list. The film doesn’t have the best story, but it’s worth watching if you love yourself some Don Lee action. The synopsis is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
Jang Dong-Soo is the boss of a massive gang; a mobster; a thug. He fears no one, and everyone fears him. This powerful gangster coincidentally comes across a serial killer, who attempts to kill him by stabbing him multiple times. However, this “devil” finds the “gangster” to be too strong, and ultimately fails to finish the job. He flees the scene, Dong-Soo ends up being hospitalized, and miraculously survives the incident. With his blood boiling with rage and fury, he schemes to find the man who tried to murder him, and get his revenge. Meanwhile, Kim Moo-Yeol, the “cop,” connects the dots of the several murder cases that recently took place, and learns Dong-Soo also fell victim to the “devil.” Thus, he meets and persuades Dong-Soo to partner-up in finding the serial killer, and the pursuit of the “devil” begins.


Moving along, the #6 spot goes to the 2013 action film <Suspect>.

Although the movie was released nearly 7 years ago, I must say, it has one of the best action of Korean action movies. It has similar elements as to <The Man from Nowhere>, and Gong Yoo is simply amazing in the film. The movie also features cast members Park Hee-Soon, Cho Sung-Ha, Yo Da-In, and Kim Sung-Kyun, and was directed by Won Shin-Yeon, who’s responsible for other directorial works such as <The Battle: Roar to Victory>, <Memoir of a Murderer> and <Seven Days>. The story is hard to understand and is confusing at first, but clears up as it progresses, and one minus of the film is the over-the-top car chase scenes it has. Like what is the car Gong Yoo is driving?! It’s simply indestructible! Also, the shaky camera work during the car chase scene makes even the audience carsick… Other than that, the movie is a movie I definitely do recommend if you love action movies! The synopsis is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
Special Agent Ji Dong-Chul defects to South Korea after being betrayed by the North, and losing his family. His sole goal is to find the people responsible for the death of his wife and daughter. Working as a driver while trying to get to the bottom of the incident, he witnesses the murder scene of a close acquantiance, Chairman Park, who gives him an object right before passing. Dong-Chul is framed as the suspect of Chairman Park’s murder, and is chased down by the authorities. With the police forces on his tail, he must continue chasing his target, while not getting wrongfully captured.

Before going into the top 5 list, can you guess which movies were my personal favorite Korean action films? Have your favorites come out yet? Comment down below what you think the top 5 will be! Then without further ado, let’s get into the Top 5.


The #5 action film is the 2013 movie, <Cold Eyes>.

<Cold Eyes> also has double-directors, Cho Eui-Seok and Kim Byung-Seo. Both these directors were mentioned before in this list; Cho Eui-Seok directed the #8 film <Master>, and Kim Byung-Seo directed the #10 film <Ashfall>. <Cold Eyes> stars the likes of Seol Kyung-Ku, Jung Woo-Sung, Han Hyo-Ju, Kim Byung-Ok, Jin Kyung, and Junho of 2pm, and the synopsis of the movie is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
The Korean Police Forces’ Special Crime Department is a team of incredible masterminds who uses their special sense skills to catch criminals. The leader of the team, Hwang, recruits a new member, named Ha Yoon-Joo, who has a profound memory, to the team. Shortly after the recruitment, an armed robbery with essentially no traces left behind takes place. The leader of the crime, James, continues to leave the Special Crime Team in confusion as they chase after him. The Special Crime Team must do whatever it takes to solve the case.


Next, the #4 Korean action film goes to the 2014-released movie <The Divine Move>.

The movie features the lineup of Jung Woo-Sung, Lee Bum-Soo, Ahn Sung-Ki, Kim In-Kwon, Lee Si-Young, Ahn Kil-Kang, and Choi Jin-Hyuk, and was directed by Cho Bum-Goo, who also directed <Quick> and <Riverbank Legends>. <The Divine Move> combines two very different things that you wouldn’t really think had any correlations: the board game Baduk (or Go), and action. If the Korean card game “Hwatu” has the film <Tazza: The High Rollers>, “Baduk” has <The Divine Move>. The synopsis is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
The professional ‘Go’ player, Tae-Seok, loses his brother to an infamous underground gambler, Sal-Soo, after losing a high-stake game. Tae-Sook finds himself framed for the murder of his own brother and is locked up in prison. While imprisoned, he vows for revenge and trains ferociously. After serving his seven-year sentence, he forms a team to get his vengeance. The team is composed of his brother’s old colleague, Ggong-Soo, a carpenter named Huh, and a blind master of ‘Go,’ nicknamed Jesus. The team schemes for revenge, and takes out Sal-Soo’s gang, one by one. However, Sal-Soo then discovers the identity of Tae-Seok, and the battle that’ll settle the two men’s fate begins. 


Moving onto the #3 movie of the list, the #3 movie is the 2018 film <Believer>.

This movie was directed by Lee Hae-Young, who also did <The Silenced> and <Foxy Festival>, and has the amazing actors Cho Jin-Woong, Ryu Jun-Yeol, the late Kim Joo-Hyuk, Kim Sung-Ryung, Park Hae-Jun, Seo Hyun-Woo, Kang Seung-Hyun, Jung Ga-Ram, Jin Seo-Yeon, and Lee Joo-Young. One of the most memorable things about this movie for me is the performances by the late Kim Ju-Hyuk and Jin Seo-Yeon, who played the druggies. The movie has a very unique vibe, and not only has good action but also great suspense as well. The synopsis of <Believer> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
Following an unknown explosion, two unknown people come to Detective Won-Ho, who’s been chasing after a drug organization for a long time.  With their help, he meets Asia’s biggest drug tycoon, as well as an unidentified member of the organization, and is able to find a definite clue of the drug crime. This is just the start, as Won-Ho must chase after and defeat the drug lord. 


The #2 movie of the list of Best Korean Action Movies goes to another 2018 film <The Witch: Part 1, The Subversion>.

This mystery action film stars Kim Da-Mi, Cho Min-Soo, Park Hee-Soon, Choi Woo-Shik, Go Min-Seo, and Daeun, and was directed by Park Hoon-Jung, who also directed <VIP>, <New World> and <The Tiger>. This is one of those rare Korean films where the English spoken is actually good. Choi Woo-Shik, having lived abroad, executed the English acting very well. I recently watched this movie again because it was airing on TV, and Kim Dami’s acting is just extremely chilling. A totally different side to her compared to her recent K-drama role in “Itaewon Class.” The movie kinda starts falling apart near the end, but I guess this was done to build up hype and expectations for the sequel, and so that they can extend upon the story in Part 2. From last I heard, the production for Part 2 was supposed to begin this year, but has been delayed due to the pandemic we are facing, and was supposed to release next year, but this may also be delayed accordingly. I’ll update any new info I get and keep you guys updated. Nonetheless, the synopsis of <The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion> is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
Ja-Yoon is a little girl who lost all of her memory after escaping a facility following an accident, 10 years ago. An older couple discovers Ja-Yoon, who can’t even remember her age or name, and takes her in as their own daughter. Years later, Ja-Yoon auditions for a TV show in order to help her family out financially. After the show airs, strange people start showing up, and start interfering with her and her loved ones’ lives. What is the truth behind Ja-Yoon’s mysterious past, and what happened that made these strange people chase after her?


And finally, the #1 action film of my choice. The #1 spot goes to the 2017 film <Steel Rain>.

<Steel Rain> stars the amazing actors Jung Woo-Sung, Kwak Do-Won, Kim Gab-Soo, Kim Eui-Sung, Lee Kyung-Young, and Cho Woo-Jin, and was directed by Yang Woo-Seok, who also directed <The Attorney> as well as the sequel to <Steel Rain>, <Steel Rain 2: Summit> which released earlier this year. The sequel wasn’t as good, but the first movie had great acting by the main lead duo Jung Woo-Sung and Kwak Do-Won, as well as great action. The synopsis of the film is as follows:

The synopsis is as follows:
A coup has arisen in North Korea. North Korea has declared war on South Korea and the United States. The North’s “Supreme Leader” has escaped to the South with Um Chul-Woo, a North Korean National Security agent. With the injured leader in the South being protected by Um, and South Korea proclaiming martial law, Um and Kwak Chul-Woo, a chief of foreign security agent for the ROK, must work together to prevent a nuclear war breaking out. 



That concludes today’s video on my list of best Korean action movies. Some movies you believe that are worthy of being on the list may not have been included, but please remember that this list was based on my personal tastes. If you have differing views, I’d love to hear them in the comments down below, or on the EonTalk Telegram group. Also, if you enjoyed this video and would like more like this, be sure to like this video and subscribe for more! Lastly, join the EonTalk Patreon if you would like to show your support in what I do. Once again, thank you to everyone, and I’ll see you guys in the next one!

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Please keep in mind this review is composed of solely my own opinions, and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am in no way a professional writer, nor have I majored or studied journalism. This is for informative entertainment purpose only, representing my personal views. I do not own the images and/or videos used in the review. No copyright infringement intended.

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