Monday, October 26, 2009

The Host

Six years after several containers of toxic chemicals are secretly dumped into the Han River by an American scientist and his Korean partner, a giant carnivorous sea mutant rises out of the water, and starts feeding on the helpless population of Seoul. A careless father Kang(Bong Joon-ho) accidently loses his daughter to the giant sea beast, and is later quarantined after its revealed that the monster may have been carrying a deadly contagious virus. Thinking his daughter is dead, Kang receives a frantic cell phone call for help from his still alive daughter. When nobody believes him that she is still alive out there, he breaks out of the quarantine. Together with his father, alcoholic brother, and Olympic gold medalist sister, they set out to find and save their little girl before she becomes the monsters late night snack.

As of the past few years, Korean cinema has exploded with worldwide success, we have been treated with many phenomenal films from many wonderful directors. Bong Joon-ho has delivered us with yet another. However, something about this gem stands out from the rest. It could be the tight story which primarily focus’ on one small family working together to retrieve their lost little girl, or maybe it’s the total absence of gang warfare, or stylized shootouts that seem so common among Korean films. But something tells me it’s the giant carnivorous sea monster!

The Host is a groundbreaking film for Korea. In fact it happens to be the most successful to date, and it’s a monster movie! Simply said, The Host is awesome! This is coming from someone who is not exactly a huge fan of monster movies. There is just something very unique about this film. Even though it is in fact a monster movie, it lacks all the common cliches that come along with them. It’s actually is telling a half decent story. A story which really does not take much time to take off. The film doesn’t even clock in a full 15 minutes before we first get introduced to the monster itself, and what an introduction! The way we are introduced to the beats is so well done, so casual. As Kang is delivering some food to a blanket(The restaurant has picnic style blankets instead of tables) he notices everyone starring out at something hanging from a bridge. So he slowly walks over and joins them. Suddenly the giant object descends into the water, where people begin throwing items in to watch it snatch them like a fish. But the fun and games quickly end when it decides to join everyone on the shore.

The monster itself is pretty well done. Bong Joon-ho put a lot of work, and worldwide searching into finding the right company to do create the CGI beast. He ended up using a company based out of San Francisco California called ‘Ultimate’. Their resume includes CGI work on such American films as Hellboy, one of the Harry Potter films, and Superman Returns. They did a great job. The monster looks fantastic, most of the time. There is a few moments in the film when he(she? It?)doesn’t quite looks as seamless as previous scenes. Its not clear what exactly the monster is a mutation of. It looks like a fish, but walks like a T-Rex(it is obvious it has no T-Rex in it). But it also has a long tail that is uses to swing from high places, or grab some unlucky snacks. However what it is not as important as what it does, and what it does is very cool!

With a strong cast, and a decent story, The Host has much more to offer then most monster movies. In the monster itself is the only indication that this is in fact such a film. There is no campy overacting, or half naked collage girls running through the woods, and most importantly there is no American teenage pop “sensation” making their unfortunate “acting” debut! What we get is another steller film out of South Korea, except this one has a giant freakin monster!!


A Film By: Bong Joon-ho

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