Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Host: Korean Masterpiece with a Bit of Hollywood Flavour

When somebody mentions ‘sci-fi movies’, I always think- bad story, stupid plot, not-so-necessary explosions, dumb actors acting like real scientists who are talking nonsense, super special effects, etc. In short, I’m not a big fan. Although sometimes I’m awestruck when watching a science-fiction movie, they still never leave me any impression at all.

But my thoughts changed when I saw the movie The Host.

Here’s the synopsis from the website of the movie (because I’m too lazy to write my own summary of the film):

Gang-du (played by SONG Kang-ho) works at a food-stand on the banks of the Han River.  Dozing on the job, he is awakened by his daughter, Hyun-seo ( KO A-sung), who is angry with him for missing a teacher-parent meeting at school.  As Gang-du walks out to the riverbank with a delivery, he notices that a large crowd of people have gathered, taking pictures and talking about something hanging from the Han River Bridge.  The otherwise idyllic landscape turns suddenly to bedlam, when a terrifying creature climbs up onto the riverbank and begins to crush and eat people.  Gang-du and his daughter run for their lives, but suddenly the being grabs Hyun-seo and disappears back into the river.  The government announces that the monstrous thing apparently is the Host of an unidentified virus.  Having feared the worst, Gang-du receives a phone call from his daughter who is frightened, but very much alive.  Gang-du soon makes plans to infiltrate the forbidden zone near the Han River to rescue his daughter from the clutches of the horrifying Host.

According the most reliable source of information in this planet (not the encyclopedia), Wikipedia, The Host is the talk of the 2006 Cannes International Film Festival. It has won several awards. It was said that the production of the movie costs about 10 billion won (more than 10 million dollars) and the largest budget ever given to a movie according to local standards of film-making in Korea, something that in the Philippines is unthinkable unless they’re going to make a movie where Piolo Pascual will get a naked (stupid investors and stupid viewers! That’s why the Philippine movie industry’s quality is deteriorating). It is the highest grossing South Korean movie of all time.

The quality of the effects is what most Italians in the movie hall described as molto hollywoodiano (very Hollywood-like). But what makes it different among the rest of sci-fi movies is that it’s not only about the scary aspects of the monster of the film but the drama and the familiar humanity brought by the characters of the movie and its impressive political statement.

It’s quite a cocktail of thriller, sci-fi, drama and comedy. Most of the critics raved about the film-director’s genius in mixing all these elements. Film director Bong Joon-ho is in fact not only a genius but he is one of the masters of Korean cinema. Some say, he ranks second to the famous Korean director Park Chan-Wook.

But despite the somber drama, two layers of subtitles, and all, The Host is a certified wild ride. Two thumbs up!

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Sige, sakayan niyo ang trip ko....