It’s time for yet another edifying plunge into the depths of Netflix Watch Instantly, and this time out, the Netflix Streaming Safari is listing the best new Korean films on Netflix Instant Watch. We did this before (and the old list is still mostly valid), but a lot of new titles have hit Instant Watch and here’re the best of the bunch!
SUNNY – easily beating KUNG FU PANDA 2 and HARRY POTTER 12 at the box office, this Korean flick is a lesson to Hollywood in how to make a crowd-pleasing movie about female friendship. Nami is a middle-aged woman with a remote husband, a mean daughter who sneaks money out of her purse, a lot of money, and an empty life. One day she bumps into her high school friend, Chunhwa, who is dying of cancer. The two of them were part of a group of seven best friends back in the 80′s, but they’ve all drifted apart. Looking for something to do with her life, Nami decides to track down the other five women and bring them to visit Chunhwa before she dies. Ridiculous 80′s musical numbers, truly hilarious and seamlessly blended flashbacks, and lots of tears follow. Emotional porn, that manages to be both depressing and funny at the same time, SUNNY is the kind of flick that will work your tear ducts over with a blackjack, but you’ll still respect yourself in the morning. Even The Hollywood Reporter loves it.
WAR OF THE ARROWS – Korea’s sleeper hit of 2011, WAR was the biggest Korean box office hit of the year, and you can totally see why. After some introductory set-up, a woman is kidnapped by the invading Chinese army and her brother, an archery prodigy, picks up his bow and arrows and goes after her, taking on the entire Chinese army with nothing more than his trusty bow and a fistful of arrows. The movie is essentially one massive chase sequence, studded with masterful set pieces that involve everything from man-eating tigers to a battle on the side of a cliff, and it gives you an idea of just how cool a Green Arrow movie could actually be. Director and writer Kim Han-Min has made a blockbuster that does for archery what The Dark Knight did for bats.
SILENCED – coming close to melodrama, but never going over the edge, this is the intense, 100% true story of the systematic sexual and physical abuse that took place at a school for deaf children. When a reporter exposed this rot, the ensuing investigation and prosecution rocked Korea, but this movie was another powerful blow that kept the case from being swept under the carpet and forgotten. Dark, powerful, and deeply moving, it takes the occasional sentimental misstep, but overall this is one big slab of a movie, and how many films are responsible for the passage of new laws providing more protection for the victims of abuse? Read a review that lays it all out for you.
RECIPE – A fugitive from death row is recaptured when he pauses to eat a bowl of doenjang (bean stew) so delicious he forgets to keep running. On the way to his execution, his last words aren’t of anger or regret, they’re about that unforgettable stew. A TV reporter thinks he has a Very Special show segment here, but no one knows anything about the chef who made the life-changing dish. What follows is a hunger-inducing, gorgeous romance that also happens to be Korea’s great food movie, free of the tackiness that sometimes marred LE GRAND CHEF. With a light touch, lots of humor, a few ghosts, some homemade wine, a sea of petals in the wind, an ode to the seductive powers of yeast, and some of the most beautiful scenes of cooking ever put on film, THE RECIPE will fill your heart and your stomach.
THE STORY OF MR. SORRY – Gaining a cult reputation on the film festival circuit, THE STORY OF MR. SORRY started life as a graduation project from the Korean Academy of Film Arts and it’s one weird slab of surrealism. Animated in a simple, 70′s style, it’s a trip down the ear hole as a sad sack ear cleaner discovers a doorway into the human subconscious and is put on a path that includes political assassination, a game show called To Kill or Not to Kill and incest.
BLOOD RAIN – like a Korean version of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, this flick is a murder mystery set in Korea’s past with a lone scholar holding the line against the forces of superstition, which come surfing into sight on a wave of gore. It’s 1808 and an island famed for its paper-making is preparing its annual tribute to the king. Suddenly, a series of savage murders begins and they show no signs of stopping. Even worse, they might hold up the tribute. How rude! Everyone goes bonkers and a group of officials, including Lee Weon-Gyu (Cha Seung-Won who’s more familiar to Western audiences from his comic roles in films like KICK THE MOON) are sent to wrap things up and put a tidy bow on top. But as homicide spreads like a virus the locals revert to shamanism to reveal the killer and the rumor that they’re all being punished for long-ago sins whips them into a vindictive frenzy. With a plot that moves like a jackrabbit, and beautifully-realized set pieces of murder and mayhem, this movie is a plush excursion into the bowels of human depravity that plays like the best, most gory big budget episode of Law & Order you’ve ever seen.