Snowpiercer, the first English-language movie from Korean director Bong Joon-ho, finally premieres in U.S. theaters next week. It's a crazy, violent, bleakly funny sci-fi story about how in the near future, almost all of humanity's been wiped out by an accidental, man-made ice age, and the only people left alive are on a high-tech train that circles the globe and never stops. The rich live in luxury up in first class while the poor are clustered in the back surviving off of protein blocks, until one of them, played by Chris Evans, leads a rebellion to try to reach the front, take over the engine, and effect change.
It's the kind of film you'd put on a shelf next to Brazil and The Matrix, with an international cast that includes Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and more. And if it's your first encounter with Bong, it shouldn't be your last — he's got a handful of earlier movies that show off the same vibrant directing, dark sense of humor, and emotional depth. A filmmaker who plays with genre, he's made a black comedy, a crime procedural, and a monster movie that subvert all expectations. And they're all available in the U.S., and absolutely worth braving subtitles for. Here are the CliffsNotes: