Korean movies have become popular worldwide. Their action films, in particular, are loved for their exciting stories, striking visuals, and great acting. In this essay, we'll look at the top ten action movies from Korea that made a lot of money, appreciating their excellent storylines.
1. Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds
"Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds" is a 2017 fantasy action film from South Korea about a brave firefighter. After his heroic death, he goes to the afterlife with the help of three guides. In the story, after a person passes away, an Angel of Death escorts them to the afterworld. There, the person faces seven trials over 49 days. The movie is based on a webtoon series by Joo Ho-min. It was so big that they shot it as one film but split it into two parts. The first part came out on December 20, 2017, and the second part, "Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days," was released on 1 August 2018. "Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds" was a massive hit when it came out in theaters. On the first day, it was watched by 422,339 people, making almost US$2.9 million. Within just 15 days, it reached 10 million viewers. The movie was loved by many, and by February 10, 2018, it made over US$105 million, becoming the second highest-grossing film in South Korea. The sequel, "The Last 49 Days," also did incredibly well, totaling $92.5 million worldwide. Overall, these movies earned a vast amount, totaling $109.4 million.
2. Extreme Job
"Extreme Job" is an incredible Korean movie that made $120 million worldwide. The story is about police detectives trying to save their careers. They go undercover to catch drug dealers and decide to use a chicken restaurant as their base. Unexpectedly, the restaurant's chicken becomes a massive hit, making their undercover mission even more exciting. The movie is a massive hit in South Korea, becoming the highest-grossing film in the country's history. The detectives' unexpected journey in crime-fighting and chicken-selling makes for a delightful and entertaining movie experience.
3. The Admiral: Roaring Currents
"The Admiral: Roaring Currents" is a movie from South Korea released in 2014, directed and co-written by Kim Han-min. It's about the historical Battle of Myeongnyang and stars Choi Min-sik as Admiral Yi Sun-sin, a Korean naval commander. The story is set during the Battle of Myeongryang on October 26, 1597, where Admiral Yi Sun-shin faced the difficult task defending his nation with only 13 battleships against an enemy Japanese fleet of 300 ships. After the movie's release on July 30, 2014, it quickly gained popularity, reaching 10 million viewers in just 12 days, setting a new record in South Korea. It even surpassed the movie "Avatar" in viewership, becoming the most-watched and highest-grossing film in South Korea, earning $138.3 million worldwide.
"Assassination" is a South Korean action film directed by Choi Dong-hoon and released in 2015. The story is set in the 1930s when Korea was under Japanese rule. The film portrays a group of Korean resistance fighters planning to assassinate a high-ranking Japanese officer. The main characters, Yeom Seok-Jin and, An Ok-Yoon, are crucial to this plot. Yeom Seok-Jin plans the assassination, and An Ok-Yoon, a skilled sniper, is assigned the mission. She is passionate about Korea's independence and takes on the dangerous task of fighting for it. On the other side, there's Hawaii Pistol, a contract killer hired to eliminate An Ok-Yoon and her team. The film delves into this intense assassination plot against the backdrop of Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation. "Assassination" was a massive success, grossing $90.9 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing Korean film of 2015 and the eighth highest-grossing film in Korean cinema history.
5. The Thieves
"The Thieves" is a 2012 South Korean action comedy film that follows a skilled group of thieves in South Korea, including Popie, Yenicall, Chewingum, and Zampano. They get an enticing offer for a big heist in Macau from Macao Park, unaware that Pepsee, a former member, is also joining them. The mission is to steal the "Tear of Sun" diamond from a well-guarded suite in a Macau casino. A Hong Kong crew is also involved, adding complexity and tension to the plan. The movie is filled with twists and turns as the ten thieves navigate their agendas and work together to pull off this ambitious heist. "The Thieves" became a massive hit, making it one of the highest-grossing films in Korean cinema history, earning around $84 million at the box office with 13 million tickets sold.
6. A Taxi Driver
"A Taxi Driver" is a South Korean historical action drama released in 2017, based on a true story during the Gwangju Uprising, 1980. The movie revolves around Kim Man-Seob, a struggling taxi driver in Seoul trying to provide for his daughter and make ends meet. One day, he overhears that a foreigner is willing to pay a hefty amount to be driven to Gwangju. Desperate for money, he takes the opportunity without knowing the grave events unfolding there. The story follows their journey and the stark realities they encounter. The film sheds light on a significant historical event. It was a massive success in South Korea, as the twelfth highest-grossing South Korean film, with a total gross of $54.8 million.
7. Taegukgi: The Brotherhood Of War
"Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War" is a South Korean wartime action drama film released in 2004, directed by Kang Je-gyu. The story revolves around two brothers, were forcefully conscripted into the South Korean army during the Korean War. The elder brother decides to take on difficult missions to protect his younger sibling from the horrors of battle. The film, featuring actors Jang Dong-gun and Won Bin, received significant attention. In terms of earnings, it made approximately ₩64.8 billion in South Korea and around $68.7 million globally, making it one of the notable films of 2004, ranking 75th in the list of highest-grossing films worldwide.
8. Train To Busan
"Train to Busan," a South Korean action horror film released in 2016, quickly gained massive popularity. It follows the story of Seok-Woo, a fund manager in Seoul, and his daughter Soo-An. When a zombie virus outbreak occurs in South Korea, they find themselves aboard a train from Seoul to Busan, fighting for survival. The film became a box office success, grossing a whopping $98.5 million worldwide. It held the distinction of being the highest-grossing Korean film in several countries, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The intense struggle for survival on the moving train captivated audiences, making it a standout film in the horror genre.
"Silmido" is a gripping South Korean action drama film made in 2003 and directed by Kang Woo-suk. It's based on a novel from 1999 called "Silmido" by Baek Dong-ho, which draws from the real-life story of Unit 684. This unit was a covert operation planned by the Korean Republic Army in 1968 to assassinate North Korean President Kim Il-Sung. The film portrays the recruitment of 31 criminals and death row inmates who undergo extreme mental and physical training on Silmi Island, aiming to create lethal operatives. On the scheduled day, they get the mission order but it's suddenly canceled. They endure grueling training, face setbacks, and lose unity. In 1970, amidst peace talks, the unit was disbanded, and members tragically executed. Although the movie contains some fictionalized parts due to unknown historical details, it was a huge hit, being the first in South Korea to draw an audience of over 10 million viewers, a milestone in Korean cinema. The plot is based on actual events, reflecting a significant period in Korean history and its intense political atmosphere.
10. The Roundup
"The Roundup" is a thrilling action movie from South Korea released in 2022. It's a sequel to another film called "The Outlaws." The story follows a tough cop named Ma Suk-Do and his team. They get a mission to catch a suspect who escaped to Vietnam. Ma Suk-Do chases the suspect from Vietnam back to South Korea. While doing this, he uncovers more crimes and a dangerous killer targeting tourists. This movie was a big hit in South Korea, especially considering the challenges of COVID-19. It's the highest-grossing film of 2022 in South Korea, making over $100 million and attracting over 12.5 million viewers. It surpassed expectations by making a lot of money compared to its budget. It's one of the most successful South Korean films since the pandemic. When it was released, it had a massive opening with a record number of people watching it. It even joined the ranks of the top-grossing and most-viewed Korean films ever. These movies not only made lots of money but also left an incredible impression on the audience.