The 2018 South Korean crime action film, ‘Believer,’ directed by Lee Hae-young, is a gripping tale that revolves around a detective’s quest to dismantle a drug cartel. Cho Jin-woong delivers a compelling performance as the detective who infiltrates the organization by recruiting a former member, played by Ryu Jun-yeol. The film is a remake of the 2012 Johnnie To film ‘Drug War’ but takes on a distinctly Korean perspective. With intense action sequences and a complex plot, ‘Believer’ explores themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the thin line between good and evil. The stellar cast, including Kim Joo-hyuk and Cha Seung-won, adds depth to the narrative. As the characters navigate the dangerous underworld of drug trafficking, the film keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, offering a thrilling cinematic experience. If you want more of the same, here are 8 movies like ‘Believer’ that you must watch.
8. The Outlaws (2017)
‘The Outlaws,’ directed by Kang Yoon-sung, is a South Korean crime action film that, like ‘Believer,’ taps into the gritty underworld of gangs. Based on a real-life turf war in Seoul’s Garibong district, the movie follows a detective’s relentless pursuit of justice amidst rising tensions. With raw intensity and a focus on intricate criminal networks, ‘The Outlaws’ shares thematic parallels with ‘Believer,’ offering a gripping narrative that explores the complexities of crime, loyalty, and morality. Both films showcase the Korean film industry’s prowess in delivering good stories within the crime genre.
7. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
Directed by Park Chan-wook, ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ mirrors ‘Believer’ in its exploration of revenge’s moral complexities. The South Korean thriller revolves around a deaf-mute man’s desperate quest for vengeance, intertwining lives in a web of tragedy. Both films masterfully blend intense storytelling, moral ambiguity, and visceral action. Starring Shin Ha-kyun and Bae Doona, ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ showcases Park Chan-wook’s distinctive style, addressing the human cost of revenge in a way that resonates with ‘Believer.’ The films share a thematic depth, showing the consequences of choices within the realm of crime and justice.
6. A Bittersweet Life (2005)
Directed by Kim Jee-woon, ‘A Bittersweet Life’ is an action film featuring Lee Byung-hun. The plot follows a hotel manager entangled in a web of betrayal and vengeance after defying his crime boss. Much like ‘Believer,’ it intricately weaves action, moral dilemmas, and intense storytelling. Both films, crafted by talented Korean directors, share a thematic resonance in exploring the blurred lines between good and evil, loyalty, and the consequences of navigating the criminal underworld. With charismatic performances and compelling narratives, ‘A Bittersweet Life’ aligns with ‘Believer’ in delivering a captivating cinematic experience.
5. The Chaser (2008)
Directed by Na Hong-jin, ‘The Chaser’ shares thematic similarities with ‘Believer,’ offering a visceral exploration of crime’s gritty realities. The film follows a former detective turned pimp, played by Kim Yoon-seok, as he races against time to find one of his girls who has gone missing. The plot unfolds with relentless pacing, blending suspense and intensity. Both films exhibit a stark portrayal of the criminal underworld, delving into complex characters and moral ambiguity. ‘The Chaser’ and ‘Believer’ captivate audiences with their raw storytelling and unflinching examination of the human condition within the context of crime and justice.
4. Memories of Murder (2003)
Brought to life by Bong Joon-ho, ‘Memories of Murder‘ takes a distinct investigative approach, resonating with ‘Believer.’ This South Korean crime drama, based on real events, follows two detectives as they hunt a serial killer. Bong’s signature storytelling weaves dark humor and intense drama, making the pursuit of justice a gripping rollercoaster. Both films share a nuanced exploration of crime, challenging the boundaries between good and evil. With captivating performances by Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang-kyung, ‘Memories of Murder’ immerses viewers in a tale of obsession, leaving an indelible mark like ‘Believer’ in the realm of crime cinema.
3. The Yellow Sea (2010)
Directed by Na Hong-jin, ‘The Yellow Sea’ and ‘Believer’ share an instinctive narrative pulse coursing through the veins of crime. ‘The Yellow Sea’ unfolds in the desolate borderlands between China and North Korea, a canvas for desperation and deceit. Ha Jung-woo’s mesmerizing portrayal of a desperate man caught in a web of murder and betrayal becomes the film’s beating heart. As ‘Believer’ explores the labyrinth of drug trafficking, ‘The Yellow Sea’ dives into the volatile waters of revenge and survival. Na Hong-jin crafts an unrelenting odyssey, merging gripping storytelling with the raw aesthetics of the crime genre, echoing the thematic depth of ‘Believer.’
2. The Man from Nowhere (2010)
Directed by Lee Jeong-beom, ‘The Man from Nowhere‘ is a South Korean action thriller featuring Won Bin. The film follows a mysterious pawnshop owner, with a dark past, embroiled in a dangerous conflict when a young girl he befriends is kidnapped. With intense action sequences and emotional depth, ‘The Man from Nowhere’ engages viewers in a riveting tale of redemption and justice. Fans of ‘Believer’ will appreciate the film’s exploration of complex characters, the gritty criminal underworld, and the visceral action that underscores a deeper narrative, creating an immersive cinematic experience with thematic resonance.
1. Infernal Affairs (2002)
Step into the intricate web of deception and morality with ‘Infernal Affairs,’ a Hong Kong crime thriller directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak—a cinematic gem that beckons fans of ‘Believer.’ Embroiled in a labyrinth of undercover operations, the film follows the gripping tale of two men, played by Tony Leung and Andy Lau, leading dual lives on opposite sides of the law. Their paths intertwine, blurring the boundaries between right and wrong, mirroring the thematic intensity of ‘Believer.’ This must-watch masterpiece showcases brilliant performances, plot twists, and a relentless exploration of loyalty and consequences, cementing its status as a timeless crime thriller.