Actor Ma Dong Seok has made his mark on the Korean film industry and is now set to move into Hollywood as well!
In 2019, the popular star was cast in “The Eternals,” an upcoming Marvel Studios film that stars Hollywood A-listers such as Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, and Kit Harington. Since the movie isn’t set to hit theaters until November of 2020, however, we know fans want to get their fill of the talented actor in some of his most iconic roles of his extensive filmography. For those who are unfamiliar with the star, it’s even more important to get to know one of the most in-demand actors in Korea before seeing him on the silver screen next November.
As such, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Korean films with Ma Dong Seok (who is also known as Don Lee). From action to comedy, Ma Dong Seok always brings his characters to life and charms the audience in the process.
Check out seven of his greatest movies that you should watch this weekend!
1) The Chronicles of Evil
This chilling thriller follows the downward spiral of a highly-decorated police detective who kills a taxi driver in self-defense and subsequently covers up the death. What follows is a game of cat and mouse as an unknown person emerges from the shadows with the intent of ruining the detective’s life. Mr. Ma plays the supporting role of Detective Oh in this film, but his impact is still an important part of the movie which co-stars Son Hyun Joo (Tazza) and Park Seo Joon (The Divine Fury).
2) Train to Busan
If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re one of the few fans of Korean films that hasn’t experienced it yet! Starring Gong Yoo (Goblin), this film follows a father who is escorting his daughter to Busan via train when a deadly virus breaks out that turns people into zombies. Ma Dong Seok plays a doting husband who will do anything to protect his pregnant wife as the train soon becomes filled with the undead. Joining with Gong Yoo and Choi Woo Sik (Parasite), the three set out to save their families and friends amid the bloody, intense terror of the day.
Despite being such a well-built man who exudes a powerful and strong aura, Ma Dong Seok manages to insert a slightly vulnerable side into many of his characters. This film co-stars Choi Minho (Ilang: The Wolf Brigade) of K-pop group SHINee as a troubled teen who does whatever is necessary to survive. When he sends his girlfriend to scam Ma’s character, things go awry as the tough guy seeks to put some fear into the teens. Despite this film not being the most astounding one of his career, it remains a dark and emotional film that fans will enjoy. Ma’s acting was nothing short of perfection as he handled the duality of his character with restraint and care.
4) Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days
Ma Dong Seok originally made a special appearance in the film Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds. The appearance set things up for a sequel which proved to be just as much of a blockbuster hit as the first film. This beautifully shot and creative movie follows three grim reapers as they guide a soul to the afterlife, going through trials and difficulties to help him on his journey to find peace. Meanwhile, Ma plays the God of the House, a rebellious outlaw who helps search for the memories of the grim reapers that were lost thousands of years ago.
5) The Outlaws
Released in 2017, this film proved to be an immediate smash hit! This crime-action film follows the true story of a turf battle between a Korean gang and a Chinese gang. The two groups battle it out to control the Garibong district of Seoul, otherwise known as Chinatown. Mr. Ma plays a local detective who is given ten days to get the situation under control and bring the gang war to an end. However, as the gangs fight, he soon learns just how brutal and violent the Chinese gang can be when it comes to their hopes of taking over the area.
Despite playing many characters that might look similar on paper, Ma Dong Seok never fails to make his roles unique and different in every movie in which he acts. This 2018 crime film is filled with action as it follows Dong Chul, a once legendary gangster who is now retired and tries to live a normal, crime-free life with his family. When another mob kidnaps his wife, however, he has to turn back to the skills he learned as a gangster in order to rescue her and take down the gang in the process.
7) The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil
A film we recently reviewed here on What The Kpop, this movie proves just what an excellent actor Mr. Ma has become over the years. The dark thriller follows a gangster and a cop who, due to unforeseen circumstances, team up to track down a local serial killer that the police doesn’t believe exists. As the two butt heads while working together, moments of humor and bromance give lighthearted moments to the action-packed movie. With one twist after another, this is one that will keep you guessing until the end. (You can read our full review of this film by clicking here). In fact, the movie was so impressive, along with Ma’s performance, that Sylvester Stallone’s studio bought the rights to it and will remake the film for American audiences. Unlike most American remakes that replace the original Asian actors with Hollywood stars, Ma Dong Seok will return to his role in the American film as well.
Although Ma Dong Seok’s filmography is extensive, these happen to be some of our favorites roles that Mr. Ma has played. Whether it’s for the movie itself or just for his amazing performances, we recommend that Korean film fans watch these movies as soon as possible! Although this list was given in chronological order of their releases, any of the films are worth watching. However, most critics would agree that “Train to Busan” is one of the best roles Ma has played to date.
Other honorable mentions for Ma Dong Seok’s films include his roles in The Good, The Bad, The Weird and The Unjust. Although he plays smaller roles— since these films were towards the beginning of his career— Mr. Ma still brings a lot to the movies with these various characters. In addition, Ma’s 2018 film “Champion” is another great role for the actor as he shows off his physical abilities as a professional arm wrestler. In fact, the sports comedy was shown at the Cannes Film Market.
Have you seen all of these movies? Which one is your favorite? What other Ma Dong Seok film would you add to the list? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting to us @whatthekpop1!
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