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The Host (2006)

  Tags: Ah-sung Ko, Asian Horror, comedic, creature feature, drama, Du-na Bae, Hae-il Park, Hie-bong Byeon, Joon-ho Bong, Kang-ho Song, korean, south korea, the host

Your rating: None Average: 7.3 (9 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
7

thehost.jpg
Rating #: 
7/10
Director: 
Joon-ho Bong
Runtime: 
119 minutes
Cast: 
Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Du-na Bae, Ah-sung Ko


Acclaimed Korean director Joon-ho Bong has done the seemingly impossible and resurrected a dying sub-genre that many have tackled countless times in the past. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival last year, it reportedly received a standing ovation from all those who were lucky enough to catch the showing. Director Joon-ho Bong decided to tweak a few CGI sequences before it opened in its native country of South Korea a couple months later. The film went on to become one of the countries biggest box office openers and received nominations and wins from various award festivals.

Now, the movie is finally hitting major theater chains here in the US (thanks to Magnolia Pictures), giving American audiences a chance to view what all the talk is about. I've seen this movie two times now and I noticed that after my second viewing I was still as entertained as I was with my first. Being a fan of South Korean cinema and Joon-ho Bong's work on Memories of Murder (excellent film), I had high hopes for this, and for once I was not let down.

The film has a cast of South Korean stars that have all worked with the director in previous films, so they're no strangers to each other. The most noticeable actor (for me anyway) is Kang-ho Song, whom I've seen in films like The Quiet Family, The Foul King, JSA, and of course, Memories of Murder. The film follows the events after chemicals are poured down a drain, leading to the popular Han River in Seoul. The chemicals eventually mutate a tadpole into some sort of giant monster that terrorizes the public as they try to picnic and relax around the river.

Kang-ho plays the father in search of his missing daughter, whom was taken away by the monster. She was thought to have been dead until the father received a phone call from the girl while he was held in quarantine by the military. Apparently this creature is somewhat radioactive and may cause people who have come in contact with it to catch some sort of virus. The family manages to escape the grasp of the military, and attempts to search for the missing daughter.

Much like a lot of South Korean cinema, the movie is a standard two-hours, and there are scenes that may seem a bit unnecessary or rather slow-paced compared to the rest of the film, but that aside, it's a pretty fun and entertaining flick. I always found Korean cinema to be the master of blending numerous genres together. You could be watching a dramatic gangster flick one minute then a slapstick comedy the next. This may seem inconsistent at times, but it normally makes for a good watch.

Thus is the case with The Host, which is essentially a comedy-drama, disguised as a monster flick. The movie isn't focused on the scares, which would normally be the case had it been an American flick, but rather the bond and struggle a family goes through as they try to save the daughter. It just so happens to revolve around the chaos of a giant monster as it roams around a highly-populated river.

The biggest let down many seem to have with the movie would have to be the ending, which I have to admit, I'm not all that fond of either. Never-the-less, I won't let something like that sway my rating for the film. I still came out relived after seeing a monster movie done right. It doesn't come as a surprise that there are already talks of a sequel and possible US remake. Though, if a sequel is made, it's said that original director Joon-ho Bong will not be returning.

Finally a monster movie done right. Not focusing on scares or a completely ridiculous plot, the film is packed with drama, comedy, cool sequences and an awesome and original creature. Check this baby out.

Posted on September 30, 2009 - 6:34pm | FrighT MasteR

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