We witnessed history being made at the 2020 Academy Awards. Parasite came and conquered the award season, a genre-bending, representational masterpiece from Bong Joon Ho and his outstanding cast. Following the same Hallyu trend, South Korea’s award-winning and highly demanded-movie, Broker, was released in select theatres across India. Broker, a Hirokazu Koreeda masterpiece, gives us a societal view of class division and poverty issues. The movie was chosen to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Ecumenical Jury Award as well as Song Kang-ho the Best Actor Award.
Broker is not your light-hearted family movie; but it’s hardly what you expected going in. This is movie with a subject matter that requires a big ‘handle with care’ sticker conveyed simply through a once-in-a-lifetime road trip. The story revolves around Ha Sang-Hyeon, the owner of a laundry shop who volunteers at a local church. That’s where he comes up with an unusual scheme with his friend Dong-soo. The two take the infants dropped off by mothers who cannot care for them. The pair sell the babies on the adoption market. Yes, Broker is a dramedy about child trafficking, but Kore-eda instantly wants us to question our judgment of his characters. It’s not every day that we find ourselves sympathizing with baby traffickers in the black adoption market.
If you can stomach humour in peculiar and grim moments, then we have a list of movies that are very much here. Take a look.
If you enjoyed Broker, you’ll enjoy these too:
Director Bong Joon-ho’s insightful and engaging comedy/thriller became one of the most talked-about films of the decade, setting a new precedent for the impact a South Korean film has on moviegoers in the world. The story revolves around the Kim family, who—one by one—start working for the super wealthy Park family. The Kims slowly ingratiate themselves into the lives of the Parks. And things inevitably become more complicated as interactions cuts across class and emotion.
Watch on: Amazon Prime
2. The Handmaiden, 2016
The film by director Park Chan-wook dwells on the dark aspects of what makes us human: betrayal, brutality, and transgression. The Handmaiden is based on British novelist Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith, and it centers around the love of two women and the greedy men surrounding them. Park moves the plot of the story from Victorian London to 1930s Korea, where an orphaned pickpocket is employed by a con man to scam an elderly Japanese woman. This is a stylish psychological thriller with enough sexual tension to burn your screen. It has been dubbed a masterpiece, with comparisons being drawn to Alfred Hitchcock.
Watch on: Prime Video
3. Burning, 2018
Burning is a razor-sharp, meticulous, and slowly-paced psychological thriller. And filmmaker Lee Chang-dong has assembled a stellar ensemble to underpin his superb film. Walking Dead star Steven Yeun portrays a manipulative, psychopathic mastermind, Yoo Ah-in is the film’s country’s official detective, and he is determined to find out the truth about Yeun because he is dating Jeon Jong-Seo, a former classmate whom Yoo has a crush on. Lee and co-writer Oh Jung-script Mi boldly and delicately traverse the conversations around power, obsession, paranoia, and trust.
Rent on: Mubi
4. Extreme Job, 2019
Captain Ko, played by Seung-ryong Ryu, is the captain of a ragtag squadron of undercover narcotics enforcement officers who just can’t seem to get it right. They go undercover at a fried chicken restaurant for one last chance to impress and become so engrossed in their growing chicken company that they forget about their real job. Extreme Job is pure popcorn fun, an explosive and joyful crime comedy. Perfect for a cozy evening in.
Watch on: Amazon Prime
5. House of Hummingbird, 2018
Kim Bora’s film is a simple, lyrical, and genuine study of a teenage girl’s voyage around Seoul in 1994—a time of turbulence and progress for the city, and the ideal backdrop for her softly turbulent coming of age. Park Ji-hoo anchors the film as the 14-year-old lead character in a wonderfully genuine performance. She feels both like every other adolescent who has ever lived and grown and yet is so characterised and shaped by her upbringing, family quirks, and culture. It’s a film exploring texture, empathy, and experience.
Watch on: Viki
6. Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, 2019
This movie is considered a catalyst for the the #MeToo movement conversation in South Korea. Based on a book of the same name that made it to our list of books recommended by RM of BTS, Goblin and Squid Game famed Gong Yoo is a South Korean woman in her thirties. Ji-young, like other women her age in South Korea, attended college and worked hard. But what many (conservative) people would perceive as picture-perfect starts showing major cracks early on. This is the story of a girl who is frequently at odds with patriarchy. The movie deals with the tropes often faced by women everywhere. We learn more about the events that led to Ji-young’s remarkable transformations as the story goes on.
Watch on: Apple TV
7. Okja, 2017
Coming from the master himself, director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) accomplishes something rather extraordinary with the $50 million budget Netflix provided him: he creates a simple film. Okja depicts the tale of a “super pig” experiment in which genetically engineered pigs are delivered to top farmers all around the world. A farmer’s granddaughter in Korea develops a particular bond with one of these extraordinary pigs (Okja). When the firm that performed the experiment wants to reclaim their pig, the two find an ally in an animal protection group led by Jay (Paul Dano).
Watch on: Netflix
8. Shoplifters, 2018
The title of this year’s Palme d’Or winner is not a metaphor: The film Shoplifters is about a family of day laborers, thieves, and minor outlaws that dwell on the outskirts of Japanese society. Osamu (Lily Franky) and Nobuyo (Sakura Andô) both work but enhance their limited earnings by committing minor crimes. Osamu takes in a wounded girl he meets outside in the cold one day in winter and introduces her to the family in his ramshackle house. But when the family’s second-youngest member, Shota (Kairi Jyo), finds himself teaching her how to shoplift, he faces a moral quandary that threatens to tear the family apart.
Watch on: Amazon Prime
As the maestro, Bong Joon- Ho (Director of Parasite) said “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”