Korean-American action star Don Lee turns 52 today

A look back at his remarkable journey in Cinema


March 1, 2023

/ By / New Delhi

Korean-American action star Don Lee turns 52 today

Don Lee as schoolteacher Gi-Cheol in The Villagers (Photo: IMDB)

A remarkable actor, a mixed martial artist and an amateur arm wrestler, Ma Dong-seok, popularly known as Don Lee is one of the most remarkable and critically acclaimed artists in the world of cinema. Known for exceptional performances in critically acclaimed films such as Train to Busan, The Neighbors, New World and Ashfall, Lee continues to entertain the audience with his acting skills

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A schoolgirl gets kidnapped, and no one pays much attention to it besides her friend. However, the mysterious story takes an intriguing turn when schoolteacher and former boxing champion Gi-Cheol notices something fishy and goes beyond his reach to rescue the girl. The emotions, sufferings, audacity, and invincible will of Gi-Cheol are brought to life by the dazzling performance of Don Lee, in one of the most critically acclaimed films The Villagers (2018).

Today marks 52nd birth anniversary of Don Lee, one of the most critically acclaimed and successful Korean-American actors in the history of cinema. Lee was born as Lee Dong-seok on March 1, 1971 in South Korean capital Seoul. However, he later adopted Don Lee as his screen name by which is popular among his audiences. He graduated from Columbia State University after moving to the United States with his parents during his high school years.

Before embarking on his cinematic career, Lee worked as a physical trainer for several mixed martial arts fighters, notably Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. His deep interest in MMA eventually helped him make a name for himself on the big screen with action-packed drama and comedy films.

A wondrous cinematic career spanning more than a decade 

Lee made his cinematic debut with Heaven’s Soldiers, a South Korean period action-comedy film, in 2005. His portrayal of a North Korean soldier in the film earned him immense praise from critics. Subsequently, he made his debut in TV with a popular series H.I.T in 2007.

His career then took off really well and made him earn critics and fans across the world. Lee played the role of an ex-con and loan shark, Ahn Hyuk-mo in the South Korean film The Neighbors in 2012. His performance was acclaimed by filmgoers and critics across the world. He also won the Baek Sang Film Award in 2013 for Best Supporting Actor.

“I have been an admirer of his acting skills, and the kinds of films he chooses to do deserve to be appreciated. His action sequences and the facial expressions in his films are second to none. Train to Busan, Unstoppable, The Outlaws, The Gangster, New World, and The Roundup are some of my favourite films by Lee. He was also remarkable in his role as Gi-cheol in The Villagers,” Manish Kumar, a film enthusiast from Delhi, tells Media India Group.

One of the most remarkable performances by Lee was in Train to Busan (2016). The film was very successful at the box office and won 35 awards in various parts of the world.

Besides these, Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018), Men of Plastic (2022), The Roundup (2022), Train to Busan: Extended (2020), Long Live the King (2019), Start-Up (2019), Ashfall (2019), The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (2019), The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos (2019), and Champion (2018) are some of the most notable works of Lee.

Besides being an actor and MMA trainer, Lee is also an amateur arm wrestler. In 2018, he was appointed as a director of the Korea Armwrestling Federation (KAF).




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