Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Gilgamesh, played by Ma Dong Seok (aka Don Lee), the first Korean actor to join the Marvel universe, subdues the villain Deviant with his bare hands. And as director Chloé Zhao once shared, the hero’s action pays tribute to the actor. The technique used by Gilgamesh, the strongest of the Eternals, is already familiar to Korean fans, but it’s still powerful and impressive.
And Ma Dong Seok is an evolving actor. Since his debut in 2004, he appeared in more than 60 movies, and now he’s also working as a producer in the production company Big Punch Pictures. Here are some of his best works from the last five years that you can check out to dive into his colorful charms.
Train to Busan (2016)
Before the release of Netflix original series Kingdom, there was K-zombie in Train to Busan. Train to Busan is a disaster blockbuster on a high-speed train from Seoul to Busan as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out and threatens the safety of the passengers. Ma Dong Seok turned into Yoon Sang Hwa, a romantic husband who struggles to protect his wife amid the apocalypse. He earned the nickname “Korean Hulk” thanks to the famous scene where he knocks down dozens of zombies rushing towards his wife with just his hands. His acting, which captures both kindness and survival instinct, caught the eyes of Zhao, who was later tabbed as the director of Eternals. Zhao paid attention to the “action, humor, and charisma” that Ma showed in Train to Busan.
The Outlaws (2017)
The Outlaws is an action thriller that depicts a detective’s attempts to take down the crime boss of a gang that moved its base to Seoul from Harbin, China. For the movie, Ma took on the role of Ma Seok Do, a passionate detective who is all about keeping peace in the city with his punch. Before The Outlaws, the actor played detective roles in six different films of a similar genre. In order to portray a convincing character and not become stereotyped, he gave a slight change to the character. He made his character into someone relaxed enough to crack a joke even during an explosive situation. The best example will be his witty response – “Yeah, I’m single” – to the crime boss’s question, “Did you come alone?” Next year, the sequel of The Outlaws will be released.
Based on the popular webtoon of the same name, Along with the Gods series is a fantasy blockbuster that goes back and forth between the underworld and the real world. Ma Dong Seok exuded his presence by appearing in the post-credits scene of Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, the franchise’s first movie. Then in the second film, he joined the franchise in earnest as Seongju God, House Guardian God that used to be a guardian. Seongju God protects Heo Choon-sam and his grandson Heo Hyun Dong. Though he is tender-hearted in front of humans, he stays relatively strong in front of the underworld guardians. And that’s because he’s the one who knows the secrets of guardians that used to be humans before they became gods. Ma naturally goes back and forth between emotionally contrasting sides of a character, enlivening the story with vivid emotions.
The year 2018, when Unstoppable was released, was the year where five films that Ma took the lead roles in were released. Unstoppable is another action film produced by the content creation group “Team Gorilla,” which Ma himself is a part of, to maximize his character. For the project, Ma played Kang Dong Chul, who confronts his wife’s kidnapper. Kang Dong Chul is the kind of person who acts with only one goal in mind. And for the role, Ma showcased an action that breaks through doors and windows. The actor once said in an interview, “Someday, I want to make an action film where there’s no blood, and even children can enjoy.” As an actor and a producer, Ma doesn’t simply feel pleasure in violence but is interested in comedy action that can be viewed by all generations. This is the reason why we look forward to the action movies he will create and participate in in the future.
Ashfall is a disaster blockbuster that centers around the biggest eruption of Mt. Baekdu. As a volcano that has been dormant for over 1,000 years erupts and the Korean Peninsula is quickly engulfed in turmoil, agents from South and North Korea are put in an operation to prevent further explosions that will cause even greater chaos. Ma played Kang Bong Rae, a geologist who searches for a solution to this disaster. Wearing a checkered shirt and glasses, Kang Bong Rae sits behind a desk and holds dearly onto the 3.48% chance. In other words, he is an accurate, clever, and intelligent character. If you’re looking for the most drastic transformation of the actor, this is it.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.