10 best Korean action movies of all time

Korean action movies like Oldboy, A Dirty Carnival and I Saw the Devil are a treat to watch and one must give them a try. Here is a list of the best Korean action films.

Published on Mar 26, 2024  |  10:49 PM IST |  166.2K
Oldboy, The Outlaws: Show East, Megabox
Oldboy, The Outlaws: Show East, Megabox

Korean action movies are more than just fighting sequences and looking cool. They are filled with amazing stories and emotions and force the audience to explore the moralities of life quite often. They are entertaining and also provide a thrill that keeps the viewers hooked till the end. Here is a list of the best Korean action films. 

Most thrilling Korean action movies 

1. Oldboy

Release date: November 21, 2003

Casts: Choi Min Sik, Yoo Ji Tae, Kang Hye Jung

Director: Park Chan Wook 

The film Oldboy is based on a manga and tells the story of a businessman who is held captive for 15 years without rhyme or reason. After he finds his eventual freedom, he sets out to take revenge on his capturers. The film became a massive hit and director Park Chan Wook received critical appreciation for this project. 

2. A Dirty Carnival 

Release date: June 15, 2006

Casts: Jo In Sung, Namgoong Min, Chun Ho Jin, Lee Bo Young

Director: Yoo Ha


A Dirty Carnival tells the story of a low-level gangster who is at the edge of his fading youth and wants to rise up in the ranks. When an important case to eliminate a prosecutor comes up, he is determined to fulfil the task and level up. Things take a turn as everything comes at a cost. 

3. The Man from Nowhere

Release date: August 5, 2010

Casts: Won Bin, Kim Sae Ron

Director: Lee Jung Beom

The Man from Nowhere revolves around a man who runs a pawnshop. His only companion is a young girl who lives next door. One day the girl is kidnapped as her mother steals drugs from a gang. The man goes on a mission to save the girl and bring her back safely. 

4. I Saw the Devil

Director: Kim Jee Won 

Cast: Lee Byung Hun, Choi Min Shik

Release Date: August 12, 2010

In I Saw the Devil, the daughter of a retired police officer falls victim to a psychopath murderer. Her fiance is an underground agent and takes it upon himself to find the killer and get his revenge even if it means that he himself will have to become the villain. 

5. The Outlaws

Release date: October 3, 2017

Casts: Ma Dong Seok, Yoon Kye Sang

Director: Kang Yoon Sung

The movie revolves around the rivalry between two gangs which becomes a war and leads to bloodshed. The series is a popular franchise in the Korean action movie genre. The Roundup: Punishment is scheduled to premiere on April 24, 2024. 

6. Kill Boksoon 

Release date: March 31, 2023 

Casts: Jeon Do Yeon, Sol Kyung Gu, Kim Shi Ah, Esom, Kyoo Kyo Hwan

Director: Byung Sung Hyun 

Gil Boksoon is a single mother but she is also an assassin in the dark of the night. She is one of the best at her job. She strives to maintain a balance between professional and private life. Things get hard when she confronts a kill-or-get-killed situation. 


7. Ballerina

Release date: October 6, 2023

Casts: Jeon Jong Seo, Kim Ji Hoon, Park Yoo Rim

Director: Lee Chung Hyun 

Ok Ju picks herself up as her best friend passes away. As she tries to get a hold of herself, she is also determined to fulfil her friend’s last wish for revenge against people who did her wrong. 

8. The Tiger 

Release date: December 16, 2015 

Casts: Choi Min Shik, Takeda Hirumitsu, Ryu Dae Shik 

Director: Park Hoon Jung

The Tiger is set in 1925. After the demise of his wife, Chun Man Duk stops being a hunter and survives as a herb gatherer. But peace does not stay for long as his son is injured by a tiger during a hunt. He takes matters into his own hands and prepares to take on the tiger. 

9. Assassination

Release date: July 22, 2015 

Casts: Jun Ji Hyun, Lee Jung Jae, Ha Jung Woo

Director: Choi Dong Hoon

Assassination is set in colonial Korea when it was under Japanese rule. A group of revolutionaries are exiled to China. They plan to take out the Japanese group. 

10. Sunflower

Release date: November 23, 2006

Casts: Kim Rae Won, Kim Hae Sook, Heo Yi Jae

Director: Song Min Ho 

An ex-convict tries to lead a better life with his new family and make a fresh start. But since he was once a gangster, things get out of hand once again and he tries to protect his family. 


Oldboy, The Outlaws franchise, I Saw the Devil and more are some of the most thrilling Korean action movies of all time. They not only provide entertainment but are also filled with an emotional plot and try to give out a message. Mind-bending stories like Oldboy are a mark that Korean action films are more than just fighting and martial arts. Not only do the protagonists look cool, but they also try to impart wisdom. 


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ALSO READ: Um Ki Joon, Lee Yu Bi’s The Escape of the Seven: Resurrection: Know Release date, cast, plot, where to watch, more


Do Korean action movies often incorporate martial arts?
Yes. South Korean action movies do incorporate martial arts.

Do Korean action movies have English subtitles?
Yes. Korean action movies on the streaming platforms have English subtitles.

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About The Author

Moumita Chakraborty did her Master of Arts in Mass Communication and has been writing professionally since 2022. She is a



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