Debuted Internationally as Don Lee; Let’s Check Out Ma Dong-seok’s Top Movies and Dramas!

Let’s Check Out Ma Dong-seok’s Top Movies, Dramas and His International Debut as Don Lee

Ma Dong-seok is an American actor who was born in Korea in March 1st, 1971. His family moved to the US when he was 19 years old. He graduated from Columbia State University majoring health and physical education. He was a former personal trainer who trained well-known mixed martial art fighters Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman.

Ma Dong-seok returned to Korea after 10 years in the US and started acting as a career at the age of about 35 years old. He is a very prolific actor, appearing in 58 movies in a little over a decade of his acting career, and his movies are usually a box office success. Let’s check out some of his most successful movies and dramas!

Ma Dong-seok’s Top Movies

Ma Dong-seok is one of the most prolific and bankable Korean actors. His movies attracted audiences and became box office hits in the Korean domestic market. His characters in movies are usually criminals or mafia leaders with a bulky body and intimidating face. The following are short reviews of some of his top movies.

Train to Busan

Train to Busan is one of the most successful Korean box office hits. The movie surpassed 10 million viewers. The world premiere of Train To Busan was held during the Midnight Screenings section of 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The movie was released in July 20th, 2016, in South Korean theaters.

A divorced father and his daughter were waiting for their train to Busan at Seoul Station. Suddenly a zombie apocalypse broke out in Seoul area while train was departing for Busan. The father and daughter, a baseball player and his girlfriend, a husband and his pregnant wife, and other passengers managed to board the train and escaped from chaos in Seoul Station. There was information that the virus hadn’t reached Busan and that the city was safe from the zombies. All the passengers struggled to fend zombies off from the train and arrived in Busan.

Ma Dong-seok played as the husband who defended his pregnant wife from the zombies. He got bitten by a zombie while defending his wife, but his wife managed to arrive in Busan safely.

The Neighbor

The Neighbor is a suspense-thriller movie adapted from a webtoon with same title. The movie was watched by 2.43 million viewers and earned more than US $18 million. Ma Dong-seok played a supporting role, Ahn Hyuk-mo, an ex-con and loan shark living in a building in which one of the inhabitants is a serial killer. Ma Dong-seok was honored at the 2013 Baeksang Arts Awards for his role as Best Supporting Actor in the movie.

A killer is living in a building and chooses his victims from neighbors; one of the victims is a middle-school girl. The suspected killer always ordered pizza and ordered a similar bag after each murder. His water bill increased every time a murder occurred. The situation brought suspicion from neighbors and security guard to one of tenants. Before another killing occurred, the neighbors and security guard teamed up to stop the killer.

The Outlaws

Ma Dong-seok starred in the 2017 crime action movie named The Outlaws. His role is as a determined police officer, Ma Seok-do, who fears nothing when dealing with criminals. He was given a certain time to close down Chinese-Korean mafia wars in his working district. The movie was adapted from a true event in 2007.

A war occurred between Korean-based gangsters and Chinese-based gangster in a Guro District, Seoul. Police were called to stop the war and maintain peace in the area. Ma Seok-do, a no compromise policeman, is assigned to fight both clans and keep the peace in the district.

The movie was released on October 3rd, 2017, and received good reviews from audiences and critics. The Outlaws earned US $52.8 million in Korean box offices. The Outlaws attracted over 6.8 million viewers in theaters and was the 5th highest grossing movie of 2017 in Korea.

The Bros

The Bros is Korean comedy-drama movie which starred Ma Dong-seok, Lee Dong-hwi, and Lee Ha-nui. Ma Dong-seok played Lee Seok-bong, a poor history teacher, whose younger brother is a successful executive in an architectural firm. The brothers reunited at their father’s funeral ceremony in their hometown. The poor teacher was scavenging a precious relic left by his father in their house, while his rich brother had little interest in anything. While driving in the area around their hometown, they hit a woman. The woman suffered a concussion and lost her memory from the accident. The brothers discovered family secrets from the mysterious woman

The Bros was released on November 2nd, 2017, and had an audience of more than 600.000 during its opening weekend. In the end, the movie attracted over 1 million viewers and earned US $10.8 million in Korea.


Champion is a sports-comedy film starring Ma Dong-seok in 2018. It was released on May 1st, 2018, and earned US $8.7 million in the Korean box office.

The comedy told the story of Mark, a former arm wrestler who dreamed of becoming a champion and who went to South Korea to compete in an arm wrestling tournament and search for the mother who abandoned him when he was young. In the end, he found his family but learned that his mother had died. He felt determined and overcame all obstacles to win the arm wrestling competition.


Unstoppable is an action and crime movie starring Ma Dong-seok and Song Ji-hyo. The movie was released on November 22nd, 2018. The movie debuted at #1 in the box office and reached an audience of over 1 million within five days of its days of release.

The movie is about a gangster who is trying to move on from criminal life and live a straight life. His wife was kidnapped by a criminal syndicate and he formed a team to find his wife and took down the entire syndicate. Ma Dong-seok played as Dong Cheol, the gangster, while Song Ji-hyo played as Ji Soo, the kidnapped wife.

Dong Cheol is normally a docile and passive guy, as opposed to his gangster character. Even his gangster friends got annoyed with his passivity when handling a threat. Although it portrayed violence and fighting scenes, this is a lighthearted movie and much liked by Korean audiences. The movie earned US $11.6 million in box offices in Korea.

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil

Ma Dong-seok appeared as main cast in the crime and action movie, The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil. The movie was about a mafia leader and a police officer who collaborated to catch a serial killer. The mafia leader is the only survivor who witnessed a crime conducted by the serial killer. The first person who catches the serial killer will take him away and use the killer for his own purposes.

Ma Dong-seok played as Jang Dong-soo, a mafia leader, while Kim Mu-yeol acted as Jung Tae-suk, a detective who teams up with the mafia leader to catch a killer, Kang Kyung-ho, played by Kim Sung-kyu.

The movie was released in Korea on May 15th, 2019, and was included in the Midnight Screenings at Cannes Film Festival. On May 5th, 2019, Sylvester Stallone announced that he would make an American version of the movie, with Ma Dong-seok as the only cast who kept his original role in the movie.