Steel Rain (2017) by Yang Woo-suk

Steel Rain (2017) Review

Logline: A North Korean agent fights for the survival of himself and country.

What. A. Ride. How have I not seen Steel Rain? It’s easily one of the best Korean movies I’ve watched in recent memory.

I’ve always preferred quieter movies. I love the atmosphere built by quiet tension. As a result, I’m shamelessly prejudiced against music-heavy films. Sometimes they can cheat by slapping on some exciting music to cover for mediocre storytelling. Steel Rain absolutely killed it with its score, and its storytelling is top-notch, too.

Steel Rain (2017) by Yang Woo-suk

The tension is high in Steel Rain, and so are the stakes. The very existence of the entire Korean peninsula hangs in the balance; mutual assured destruction is a real possibility. You can write a story with such high stakes, but skilled filmmaking creates the on-screen tension. Director Yang Woo-suk, in only his second feature, has done an excellent job here. The weaving storyline is paced nearly perfectly, and the atmosphere is dense. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for almost the movie’s entire runtime.

Jung Woo-sung and Kwak Do-won are perfect in their roles. I can’t remember the last time Kwak Do-won wasn’t good in a role, and Jung Woo-sung‘s acting chops have aged liked wine fine. Jung plays a steely North Korean agent while Kwak plays a flawed but capable South Korean security official. Their characters play off each other beautifully and create a frenemy dynamic that piques your curiosity.

Jung Woo-sung and Kwak Do-won in Steel Rain (2017) by Yang Woo-suk, on Netflix

There’s plenty of action to go around in Steel Rain. Hand-to-hand combat, guns blazing, or even missiles blasting—whichever you prefer, you’ll get your fill. But Steel Rain is mostly a political thriller about conflict between the top stakeholders of the Korean peninsula. I won’t spoil it for you: Let’s just say the American CIA is involved and a nuke actually gets launched!

Did you know Director Yang Woo-suk used to be a cartoonist before directing his first film in his 40s? He actually created the Steel Rain webtoon in the early 2010s. Maybe that’s why the pacing and the overall balance of the film are so on-point. You can feel the artist’s touch in the storytelling.

Steel Rain (2017) by Yang Woo-suk with Jung Woo-sung, on Netflix

Overall, Steel Rain is a strong recommend. It’s not perfect, but tension and excitement are constant, and the storytelling is measured and skillful. It’s easily one of the best Korean films in Netflix’s catalog. I look forward to watching more of Director Yang’s work.

8 out of 10, Excellent

Korean Movie Review

Steel Rain (2017)

Directed by: Yang Woo-suk

Genre: Thriller/War/Political

Watched on Netflix





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