8 Lee Je-hoon Movies And Shows You Have To Watch: Taxi Driver, Signal, And More
If you have been keeping tabs on current trending dramas of South Korea, chances are you've encountered the title Taxi Driver. As the titular character, Lee Je-hoon captivates as a man on many missions—an avenging angel but in the vein of Ryan Gosling's character in Drive.
Lee's work has mostly flown under the radar (at least in the Philippines). But over the years, the fresh-faced 36-year-old actor has put together a filmography packed with critically acclaimed movie and television projects. Soon he will be trying his hand at directing as part of an online project called Unframed.
As Lee Je-hoon breaks out to wider recognition with a role that expands his charms as an action star, check out eight of his most noteworthy works below. This list showcases an enviable range of parts in both the big and the small screens.
1/8 Bleak Night (2011)
This coming-of-age drama is considered Lee Je-hoon's—as well as Park Jung-min's (Psychokinesis, Deliver Us from Evil) —breakout vehicle. It follows a father who attempts to piece together the events that led to his teenage son’s suicide by tracking down his two ex-best friends. By making the story weave in and out of the present and the past, the writer-director Yoon Sung-hyun explores the group’s dynamics and eventual toxic falling out to greater effect.
After several short films and a television show, Lee turns in an electric performance as the doomed Ki-tae with equal parts charm and menace. Meanwhile, the portrayal of the relationship between the three leads calls into question a larger issue of how young men have been carrying on dealing with their emotions. It’s a sombre movie but definitely a must-see.
2/8 Architecture 101 (2012)
This movie about the bittersweetness of first love pairs Lee Je-hoon with beloved idol-turned-actress Suzy Bae as college classmates who fall short of ending up together. While Lee shares the role with a senior actor for the adult version, here you see his romantic and comedic sides shine. The chemistry between him and Suzy sparks a yearning for a lost love.
Related: Bae Suzy's Most Stylish Looks On- And Off-Screen
3/8 Signal (2016)
Lee Je-hoon shares the small screen with two moviestars, Kim Hye-soo (The Thieves, Tazza: The High Rollers) and Cho Jin-woong (A Hard Day, The Handmaiden), in this thoroughly engaging police procedural thriller-fantasy. Lee's criminal profiler Hae-yong in 2015 comes across a walkie talkie that connects him with Cho's police officer Jae-han from two decades ago. Together they solve cold cases and prevent some from even happening in the first place. Kim plays Soo-hyun, who leads this team of cold case officers in the present day. Their collective sleuthing eventually leads them to uncover dark secrets plaguing the system over the years.
All of the different genres in play serve a novel concept that thrives in twists. Throughout the 16-episode run, Signal remains riveting, and it’s also largely due to its ensemble cast.
Watch on Netflix.
Read Also: Who Is The Highest Paid K-Drama Actor This 2021?
4/8 Anarchist from Colony (2017)
This biopic delves into the life of Korean independence activist and anarchist Park Yeol just before and after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and the subsequent Massacre of Koreans. A big part of the story is devoted to the relationship between Lee Je-hoon’s titular character and his lover, Fumiko Kaneko, played with such aplomb by Choi Hee-seo (Mistress, Deliver Us from Evil). The two were charged with treason after plotting to bomb Japan’s Crown Prince in a move by the Japanese imperial government to cover up the killing of thousands of Koreans in the Kantō region.
The film finds the humour and lightness in such a grim period of history, especially between Park, Fumiko, and their gang of anarchists. However, the issue of a seemingly inevitable death sentence and the struggle to make a difference in their fight for freedom looms large particularly when the movie settles into its courtroom drama portion. Throughout the movie, Lee and Choi play off each other perfectly in their roles.
It would be good to look up the history of the subject before delving into this movie for a richer viewing experience.
5/8 I Can Speak (2017)
In this comedy-drama, Lee Je-hoon's Min-jae is enlisted by veteran actress Na Moon-hee's (Miss Granny) Ok-bun to become her English teacher, and in the process learns about her past as a comfort woman during World War II. The movie treats the heavy subject with care and brings to light a terrible part of history that most people may not be aware of. While Ms Na is the heart of the story, Lee gamely conveys the empathy that her character was robbed of.
Watch on Viu.
Read More: Get To Know The Cast Of Oscar-Nominated Film, Minari
6/8 Time to Hunt (2020)
In this ensemble caper, Lee Je-hoon's Jung-seok leads his group of friends for one last job that will grant their wish to escape a dystopian South Korea. Their plan goes south after the heist when a ruthless hitman goes after the group.
Time to Hunt premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival just before the pandemic. The movie reunites Lee with his Bleak Night director and co-star Park Jung-min, and rounding out the cast are Ahn Jae-hong (Fight for My Way, Secret Zoo), Choi Woo-shik (Parasite, Train to Busan), and Park Hae-soo (Prison Playbook). When the chase begins, Time to Hunt proceeds with the propulsive rhythm of a bullet train, tense at every swerve. It's made all the more immersive by a killer soundtrack.
Watch on Netflix.
Read More: 7 Gong Yoo Shows To Watch: Train to Busan, Goblin
7/8 Taxi Driver (2021)
Lee Je-hoon's on-going series is resounding with audiences due to a cathartic premise: don't just get mad, get even. At the centre of the show is a group of people who've had their share of personal losses from crimes, and have taken justice into their own hands, on behalf of clients who call for help. They use their taxi operating business as a front.
Here, Lee plays Kim Do-ki, an ex-military man who does the dirty work. In this role, Lee is able to use the full extent of his skill as an actor, inhabiting a different character whenever a mission calls for it. Of course, these things inevitably lead to a car chase and/or a fight, and he does not disappoint on the stunt front. Two high points are the bloody hallway brawl in episode eight and the violence that ensues in episode 14.
Do-ki finds a perfect foil in Esom's (Scarlet Innocence, Microhabitat) prosecutor Kang Ha-na, while the rest of the team and their villainous counterparts round out the cast. It is a rare treat to watch each key character's motivation explored since the actors are given enough material to propel the larger story. Each case the team tackles also sheds light on different social issues plaguing the country. For these, Taxi Driver is truly worth the binge.
Watch on Viu.
8/8 Move to Heaven (2021)
Dropping on Netflix the same time as Taxi Driver is showing on network telly is Move to Heaven. This series introduces the global audience to a line of work that they may not have heard of: trauma cleaning.
In it, Lee Je-hoon's ex-convict underground fighter Sang-gu becomes guardian to Geu-ru, his estranged nephew with Asperger's syndrome, thoughtfully portrayed by Tang Joon-sang (Crash Landing on You). Together, they pick up the family's business of cleaning up the homes of people who die after Geu-ru's own father’s passing. They are also aided by Geu-ru’s concerned neighbour, Na-mu. With each episode, they uncover the mostly heartbreaking stories of the deceased, while Sang-gu reconciles with his painful past (both distant and recent).
Lee imbues a humanity to Sang-gu that elevates a character that’s hard to root for otherwise. Plus, the interplay among the trio of leads is a blast. Be warned though: it is hard to watch this drama without shedding tears so have some tissue ready when you do.
Watch on Netflix.
Related: 'Move to Heaven' Full Review: How To Deal With The Loss Of A Loved One?