Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Host

Title: The Host -aka- Gwoemul (2007)
Dir: Bong Joon-ho
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

You've probably heard somebody utter the cliche, "They just don't make movies like they used to." Well, guess what - they do. Namely, Koreans do. The Host is a modern-day monster movie in the vein of Jaws or Jurassic Park. It has all the classic elements - a giant terrifying (and occasionally sympathetic) beast, children in peril, and regular people doing heroic things.

In The Host, years of dumping chemicals into the Han River has created a mutant amphibian that wreaks havoc on Seoul. When the monster makes off with a young girl, her bumbling father Gang-Du sets out to rescue her. Meanwhile, the government is trying to contain him for having touched the monster which they believe to harbor a contagious disease. So Gang-Du, with the help of his father and siblings, must hunt down the beast whilst also evading arrest.

Exciting as this film is, what it's really about is family. In their quest to rescue young Hyun-seo, this family puts aside their differences and finds a sense of togetherness long since missing. Gang-Du's brother and sister leave behind their big city careers to help find their niece, and Gang Du's heroism proves him to not be the incompetent idiot his family thought he was.

I'd classify The Host as an action/adventure film, though it certainly has its horror aspects. A scene where the monster goes into a trailer full of people is particularly horrifying. The movie isn't really gory, just intense and exciting. And the monster looks pretty good for being CGI.

Apparently some people dislike this film for USA-bashing? I don't get that. Firstly, if most American action/horror movies can have Russian terrorists or German mad scientists, I see nothing wrong with American villains in an overseas film. In The Host, the Americans are sort of to blame for the monster's creation (not necessarily all our fault), and they are also the bad men in plastic suits trying to capture Gang Du for testing. And so frickin what? Sometimes the US government does pretty fucked up things - get over it.

Anyway, I had to get that out there. I really enjoyed The Host. It's singular flaw for me was an aspect of the ending, which I won't reveal since obviously it'd be a huge spoiler. If you've seen the movie, you may know already what I mean, or you can ask me. That aside, it's a great, fun movie. Hopefully you got to see it in theaters like I did. Regardless, don't miss this one.