Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Host (2006) (aka Gwoemul)

Young Korean Doctor (Brian Rhee): But, you know, this is not just any toxic chemicals -
US Doctor in Morgue (Scott Wilson): The Han River is very broad, Mr. Kim. Let's try to be broad-minded about this. Anyway, that's an order. So, start pouring.

Park Nam-il (Hae-il Park): Look at that... Isn't that amazing? In this situation?
Park Nam-Joo (Du-na Bae): Wake him up, there's no time.
Park Hie-bong (Hie-bong Byeon): Let him sleep a minute. He needs to sleep every so often.
Park Nam-il: Should we leave him here? He's no help anyway?
Park Hie-bong: Kids, wait a minute. Sit down. In your view, is Gang-du really so pathetic?
Park Nam-il: Yup.
Park Nam-Joo: Yes.

At a glance: This Korean mutated monster movie scores plenty of points for campily combining scares, laughs, and pathos

Toxic chemicals dumped in the Han River of Korea breeds a mutated version of the Loch Ness monster that seems to have an appetite for humans as snacks. It gets personal when a young dad watches it wrap his daughter around its tail and spirit her back to its lair. You can laugh without reservation at the over-the-top grieving scene, meant to provide a huge hint that there’s probably nothing to grieve about - yet. But there are also strong emotions generated as this family bands together to try to save the missing girl. The unusual script features a young, irresponsible father with an undying devotion to saving his daughter. The missing girl’s sister, a bronze medal archer, spends the entire film wandering the sewers in a track suit, carrying a bow and arrow. The motivations of the beast itself are also cleverly hidden; the optimists in the audience may even believe that it is benign on some level (for awhile, anyway). On a limited budget, SFX company The Orphanage creates a unique CGI beastie, and director Joon-ho Bong uses clever locations and visuals to fashion a unique monster movie. Rating: 3 of 4

"Alternately scary, funny and inspiring, Bong Joon-ho’s first-class monster mash is also a scalding rebuke to U.S. interventionism, profiteering and general developing-world opportunism, and a lovely story of familial bonding. In a word, amazing."
- Ian Grey (Orlando Weekly)

"The creature is aquatic, acrobatic but definitely not angelic, in this idiosyncratic mix of creature feature and horror thriller, with a dash of slapstick, and a pinch of black humour."
- Urban Cinefile Critics (Urban Cinefile)

"A rather tender-hearted, often sorrowful, more often hilarious view on the familial conflicts between generations and between siblings."
- Tim Brayton (Antagony & Ecstasy)

"It packs an emotional kick that we don't expect from a movie where a giant iguana is running around with human legs dangling out of his mouth like stray pieces of linguini."
- Rob Thomas (Capital Times [Madison, WI]

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