(aka "Gwowmul" or "Creature")

 

directed by Bong Joon-ho
South Korea 2006

 

It's hard to write about Bong Joon-ho's The Host (the original Korean title is "Creature") without making puns on the word "monster." The temptation arises not only because of the subject matter, but because everything about the film -- its scale, its budget, its record-breaking performance at the box office, its overseas potential -- is huge within the context of the local film industry. It is a monster movie -- about a truck-sized mutant that crawls out of the Han River and unleashes terror upon the citizens of Seoul -- and yet, it is not one. Part of The Host's appeal is that its core concerns are somewhat slippery, and hard to pinpoint.

You could just as well call The Host a family movie. Hee-bong (Byun Hee-bong) is the owner of a small food stand in the Han River Citizen's Park, selling squid, candy and beer to people who have come out to enjoy the sun. Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) is one of his three children, a man who seems a bit slow mentally and whose one motivating strength is a devotion to his schoolage daughter Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-sung). Rounding out the family is Nam-joo (Bae Doona), an amateur competitive archer and her brother Nam-il (Park Hae-il), a former student radical who at present is drunk and unemployed. There are no mothers in the family -- Hee-bong's wife having passed on and Gang-du's having run away. It's a dysfunctional group, held together only by the crisis that faces them, and yet the family dynamics will feel familiar to many viewers.

It is when the creature snatches the young Hyun-seo that the family becomes aligned against this unknown biological threat. However, in what is perhaps a telling reflection of our times, the family ends up spending more time battling health professionals, military personnel, and other manifestations of the government than the beast itself. The Host mixes more than a few political barbs into its genre cocktail: a bit of SARS here, a bit of Iraq there. Yet it's with a black sense of playfulness and absurdity that these satirical quips are delivered to the audience, suggesting that the film's chief concerns lie elsewhere.

The monster itself is not a force of pre-meditated evil, bent on destroying civilization. (In this sense it is more Katrina than 9/11) Like any other natural disaster, this clever, ugly, lethal, clumsy, and at times ridiculous monster does what it does simply because it is part of its nature. It eats humans because it is hungry, and because it enjoys it. So in some ways it's hard to see The Host as a contest between good and evil. From a moral sense (if not an emotional one) the film resembles wildlife videos of lions taking down gazelles.

Yet in the course of the showdown with the beast, there's a very human sense of loneliness that seeps into the film. Part of it comes from the realization that, in a crisis, one's country may be of no help -- or indeed, may turn against you. A disaster that rips through the fabric of society may reveal that the laws, conventions and beliefs that keep us civilized lie only on the surface.

excerpt from Darcy Paquet's review at Korean Films.org located HERE

 

Poster

 

Theatrical Release: May 21, 2006 Cannes Film Festival

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: KD Media (3 Disc Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC

Big thanks to Adam Lemke for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

KD Media

Region 3 - NTSC

Runtime 1:59:21
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 5.1EX and DTS ES
Subtitles Korean, English, Korean hearing impaired, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: KD Media

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Director and Actor's Commentary
• Director's Commentary
• Staff's Commentary
• Visually imparied track
• After commentary
• Disc two - 18 extras featurette all WITHOUT eng subs
• Designing creature, Creature animation, Creature making, Creature animatronics
• Gag reel, Visual effects Supervisor - Kevin's Korean life
• Sound effects, still gallery, easter eggs
• Disc three - 1 hour making of feature
• trailers, posters, promotion tour
• Deleted scenes w/ commentary
• Original & Alternate soundtrack w/ music video
• Tony Rayns interview - 4 min
• Short film Sink & Rise (7min) w/ English subs

DVD Release Date: 1/16/2007
Clear keep Case with overlapping inset holder and carboard slip cover

Chapters 23

 

 

Comments:

A flawless image, with stellar sound and extras, think of this as the Korean equivalent to our Universal’s 3-Disc King Kong edition. The only real downfall is that all of the extra materials are without English subtitles. Although one can appreciate the visual documentation on the design of the film, it would have been nice to have a translation of director Bong’s comments on his work (we are talking 3 hours, spanning two discs worth of material here!).

I loved the film, and I think much of the praise it has received (it was the best reviewed film from Cannes ’06 and it is currently the highest grossing film in Korean history) is certainly deserved. I used the excerpt from Darcy Paquet’s review above because the Western culture readings of the film such as the familial bond in the face of disaster and a government’s failure to respond (a la Katrina) is incredibly accurate. Bong has made an old fashioned monster movie, but one that is not afraid to confront the world of today. In this sense the film is timeless. Able to speak to viewers, no matter what their respective cultures may be, The Host is genre-filmmaking of the highest order.

 - Adam Lemke

 


 

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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

 

Distribution

KD Media

Region 3 - NTSC




 

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