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The 5 Best Films from the Ma Dong-seok Cinematic Universe

By Say Peng  /  25 May 2019 (Saturday)

The Ma Dong-seok Cinematic Universe is what fans have called the complete filmography of American-born Korean actor Ma Dong-seok.

Don't know who Ma Dong-seok is? Here's a quick lowdown.

Born in the US, Ma Dong-seok was a martial arts trainer before he moved into acting. He once trained mixed martial artists, Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman.

Ma broke into the international spotlight thanks to 'Train to Busan', in which he played a kick-ass selfless husband. Since then, Ma has been prolific, appearing in 4 to 5 films every year.

It can be hard to keep track of all his movies, so we thought we should revisit his best films, including one of his latest films, 'The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil', which is currently showing in cinemas here now.

Here is our list of Ma's top 5 movies.

5. Champion

It's hilarious to see the beefy muscular Ma put in the role of a caretaker, having to look after two kids. It harkens back to films like Vin Diesel's 'The Pacifier'.

After 'The Bros', this is one of the first few comedic lead roles that Ma has undertaken, and it proves that there is more to the actor than just his ability to beat up bad guys.

4. The Soul-Mate

'The Soul-Mate' is also a film that also gave Ma a platform to showcase his comedic talent.

The premise of the film is that Ma's character Jang-su, a self-centred judo instructor, is the only person who can see Tae-jin, the spirit of a policeman stuck in a coma.

Initially, Ma does not want to help Tae-jin, but naturally, he slowly gives in. 

The film has many moments of physical comedy and Ma pulls them off to hilarious effect.

3. The Outlaws

Ma is, of course, well known for his action movies - and there are many to choose from.

Admittedly, though, while most of his action films are good and decent, there are only a few that truly stand out.

'The Outlaws' is one of them.

The film follows roguish rule-flouting police officer Ma Seok-do (Ma Dong-seok) and his team as they try to prevent a growing turf war between a local gang that runs Garibong-dong in Guro District, Seoul and the Heuksapa gang from Yanbian, China.

There are many intense action sequences in the movie, but the one that tops it all is the toilet showdown between Ma and Yoon Kye-sang's character Jiang Chen. The fight is brutal and utterly realistic.

2. The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

In this film, Ma plays head gangster Jang Dong-soo, who has to team up with a cop to catch a serial killer that tried to kill him.

As usual, the action sequences are great, but Ma's acting in the film is just as commendable. Ma has often been criticized by critics for playing the same roles over and over again, but in this film, Ma brings new layers to his gangster character. 

In addition, Ma's hot-and-cold on-screen chemistry with his co-star Kim Mu-yeol is one of the best of his filmography. 

Be sure not to miss this movie. 'The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil' is currently showing in cinemas.

1. Train to Busan

Unarguably, it is the role that launched Ma into the international spotlight that is his most memorable role.

Ma plays Sang-hwa, a selfless working-class man, who would go to extreme lengths to protect his pregnant wife. He also has several comedic moments in the film.

As a result, Ma's humble but bad-ass character was extremely popular with audiences, and so is Ma.

His co-stars also have nothing but good things to say about Ma.

Once again, be sure to catch 'The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil' in cinemas near you.
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