on 12 July 2009
I saw this film after a review alerted me to its original format. Unlike holywood which relies either on making us wait a long time to see the monster, or revelling in gore rather than story, this Korean flick gives us the monster straight up, and follows with lots of story. It is a most original and engaging take on the horror/monster genre. The movie is about the struggles of one family who lose a daughter to it early in the film. Which is not to say it lacks suspense or action. It has these in globs, and all the more hard hitting as we can believe in these very real character's lives, and through them believe all the more in this fascinating monster. I only hope Holywood does not buy the rights to this, yet another piece of fresh imagination from the east, and and make a travesty of it. The bluray version is great, as unfortunately the normal DVD version is a poor grainy transfer.
An American mortician (or possibly pathologist) orders his Korean junior to empty some dusty bottles of formaldehyde down the sink (and into the Han river). His subordinate isn't keen, as it's a bit toxic (you can tell it's toxic because of all the smoke it gives off when he pours the bottles into the sink). And we are talking a LOT of bottles. They must be very busy (and be very bad at stock taking).....
......sometime later.......Slightly dopey (or at least, sleepy) single dad Park Gang-du operates a food stall with his dad, Hee-bong, next to the Han river. Unfortunately, there seems to be something rather large hanging from a bridge, which drops into the water and Gang-du rather inadvisably tries to feed it a beer when it comes near the crowd he's in. Before you know it, the pesky piscine predator has nabbed his cute little daughter (Hyun-seo) and taken her to its lair. The family, which includes a drunken uncle and an aunt who is an expert archer (and you suspect that might come in handy at some point) having been evacuated by the military, receive a phone call from her telling them she's still alive. They escape from hospital quarantine, and resolve to go save her.
I have to say, this is a lot of fun. It is done with sly humour and a jaunty style. While this is no $150 million dollar Hollywood blockbuster by any means, the CGI monster effects stand up pretty well and the fishy fiend is used to good effect, showing up early and causing mayhem.
It is very different in feel from a Hollywood blockbuster, but none the worse for that. It is more quirky and feeling of "knowing fun" about it, despite it certainly not being a comedy (given what transpires).
I almost had a feeling it was a satire of some sort about the American influence in Korea (the American at the beginning, the government announces it will use "agent yellow" to kill the monster, the American surgeon planning to "extract" the virus from Gang-du's brain, etc), but I am not knowledgable enough of Korean culture to know if this is the case, or if I was just imaging it.
As I said, good fun and a bit different, with that uniquely "South East Asian" feel to the whole thing.
I was very impressed by this South Korean 2006 monster film. It is a refreshingly original, clever and well done thing. I spend a really good moment watching it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
In year 2000 an American military pathologist orders his less than enthusiastic Korean subaltern to dump a large stock of toxic chemicals into the river Han, which flows through Seoul. Six years later the consequence of this act emerges from water and starts eating people... A not very successful family, the Parks, is terribly affected by the first attack - and they decide to react, in their own, not very brilliant way... And then the film really begins.
After so many monster films, making something original and interesting is a real challenge - South Korean director Bong Joon-ho met this challenge head on and won a BRILLIANT victory! The monster in this film is unlike anything we saw before on the screen - it is part grotesque, part terrifying, it is both animal and not-fully-animal, it is lethal (definitely!) but not invulnerable, it can surprise but can also be bluntly direct, in short this is a complex, fascinating creature, completely unlike most standard-issue Hollywood created monsters.
But the really brilliant move by Bong Joon-ho was to realize that the key to the success of a monster movie is not only the monster - it's also the people and their story. This film is so good because from the beginning we start to care for the Park family and that keeps us interested and creates real tension. I will not say much about the Parks, to avoid spoilers, but they are definitely not the most brilliant of people and they had it rather hard in life - that helps a lot as it is always natural to root for the underdog.
This is a real monster film and a lot of people die, most of them eaten. Some moments are really heart-breaking. But other than tragedy there is also a lot of humor in "The host" and acidic irony, with blows being delivered all around - Americans, South Korean government, radical marxist students, everybody gets served...)))
In recent years South Koreans went into the world with their movies and they offered a lot of innovation and brilliance in some genres. They were very successful with war movies, like "Frontline", which IMPRESSED me and "My way" (the famous "Brotherhood" I liked less). They did some honest, watchable spy/action films, like "Shiri". The foray into the SF (like "Natural City") was, for my taste, less successful. On another hand "The host" is a brilliant success and a very welcome renewal of monster movies, which Hollywood should examine carefully for inspiration.
Let us dream a little here - imagine what it would give, a REAL "Godzilla" movie made by Bong Joon-ho... (sigh!)
The effects are good, characters are well conceived, the creature is formidable, the scenario is honest and the ending is strong. This is a really, very, very good film, worth buying, watching and re-watching. ENJOY!
on 15 August 2012
The Host is a very funny witted film that brings horror, laughs and suspense all in one. The main plot of the film is about a family who fight to get there daughter back from a creature (which was created via toxic waste) who has taken her to the sewers. In this plot you see the family unfold and see the devastating effects of a conspiracy. I don't want to spoil it so that's all I say. The effects are brilliant I must say one of the best I have seen in a film. It looks more realistic then the CGI you get in most films these days. There is enough gore for the horror fans so there is no disappointment there. It is well worth a watch, a must see. Also note that there are subtitles in English. No English spoken in the film.
on 23 April 2013
Believe the hype, The Host is that good.
For years now Asian cinema has been the very best at everything from action to romance to horror, there is no other market that can make em this enjoyable as Asia.
The Host is Korean and is a throwback to the glorious days of monster movies. A huge reptillan sea fish? has made his home in Korea. And now he's after the locals for food.
There is much to love here- because the most important element is included. Likeable characters. There is tension which is cut off at times for humour. This is classic film making in the purest sense and something that the great Alfred Hitchcock also noted. In order to create the tension, one must also be able to relax, and the Host is full of this.
It's a human story also- The Host has everything you could want from a monster movie. The movie is only 7 years old and is a near miracle that they could bring this altogether in a day and age where filmmaking is at a low ebb.
Sure the film could have been twenty minutes shorter and the monster isn't always realistic, but they have done a great job with it nevertheless.
Watching an Asian monster movie is a real shot in the arm to the senseless torture porn and young dumb things from across the pond.
They say The Cabin in the Woods was groundbreaking stuff. How wrong could so many people be- This is it my friends this is it.
on 6 October 2015
From a fantastic and versatile director (someone who excels in crime like Memories of Murder, drama like Mother, distopian adventure like Snowpiercer) comes a surprising and moving horror/drama, a curious and perfectly accomplished mix of Alien and King Kong.
With all the thrilling but also the mercy for the beast,
It is not just a director amusement, but another way, another occasion for this highly talented guy to decline his sense of drama to the next genre, and still engage and enthrall the audience.
on 16 January 2016
There are are a lot of great reviews for this film so I may have had my expectations set too high - 'The Host' certainly has fantastic special effects and has good production values but I found the comedy elements overpowering resulting in a story that came across as rather silly. Considering the monster was killing large numbers of people and appeared to be responsible for transmitting a dangerous virus there seemed to be very little interest by world governments in capturing or killing it. And the only people up to the task were a very dysfunctional family whose collective skills (and plenty of luck) did the trick. It didn't help that the family weren't particularly interesting or likable. Also some severe editing might have helped bolster interest and improve the pacing by cutting 15 minutes or so off the extremely long 2 hour running time. The disk attributes are excellent - strikingly clear picture and excellent Korean PCM multi channel sound (although there are lots of different sound options you can choose from, including English dub). Not a film I would want to watch a second time.
on 25 February 2013
People expecting a big loud, brash monster movie will be hugely disappointed. Joon Ho-Bong's film is more than that. There are many reasons why this is my favourite Korean movie and one of my favourite full stop. From a basic set-up we are given a satire of just about everything in Korean life, a moving drama, horror scenarios (not the monster but people, people are the true monster) and some very funny moments. It's pretty much perfect; doing everything I want from a movie. This is helped in no small part by yet another superb performance from the best actor no-one has heard of in Kang Ho Song. The Host is a triumphant example that extols the huge and varied virtues of the Korean new wave. The only negative, come next year I am going to have to describe it as The `Korean' Host as one of Stephanie Meyer's `novels' is getting adapted under the same name. It's the Thing all over again, that has now become The Thing 1982. Oh, and maybe it is too long at two hours, but when you have as much fun as I do with this film, does it really matter how long it is?
on 12 December 2006
Far and away the best film of 2006. On the face of it your average big monster creature feature but not so. This film has everything. Action; comedy; drama; fantasy; horror; sci-fi; pathos; heroism; political comment and an examination of that trickest of life's challenges - family relationships. The characters are heroic but deeply flawed and prone to failure, in short really human.
I hate when people give the whole plot away, so I won't, but I will say take note of the opening scene it is a reconstruction of what was actually a quite horrifying true event. What Joon-ho Bong the Director does is extrapolate from that event and using an accessible entertaining film subtly comments on the real horrors that such cavalier attitudes will lead us to and no I don't mean the monster - state interference; state indifference, rumour and obfuscation; deliberate demonising everything we can see already in a world deliberately being taught to be afraid of its own shadow.
And the finale - Hollywood would never have the nerve.
Above all a cracking film - enjoy!
on 26 October 2007
'The Host' is just outstanding in every single way.
It rolls horror and comedy into one making a perfect mix for two hours entertainment.
The storyline is fantastic and for those who don't take their films too seriously, this is a must.
The story is based around a father called Gang-Du, desperate to save his daughter Hyun-Seo from the terrible monster holding her captive in a sewer under Wonhyo Bridge with the aid of his sister, a professional archer called Nam-Joo and his father, Hee-Bong, the owner of a local snack van.
This is a wonderful film, packed with fantastic CGI and a cast that you will fall in love with. This is an epic horror film that many could view and enjoy without being too scared and not having to take anything seriously for 2 hours.
This is a great film and yet again, it's not from Britian or America.
The best in cinema lies within Foreign countries without a doubt.
A grand achievement for Korea.