Directed by Bong Joon-ho.
Written by Bong Joon-ho, Ha Jun-won and Baek Chul-hyun.
Starring Song Kang-ho, Byeon Hie-bong, Bae Du-na and Ko Ah-sung.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 3/14/07
Let me put it to you this way--"The Host"--a
Korean import that made waves overseas last year before showing up
on our shores--is strangely overrated, a decent film that has decent
laughs, decent scares and barely-decent special effects...especially
for a film that created this much buzz online and in film purist
circles that I follow periodically.
I was hoping for much more, especially with
the kooky-yet-spooky trailer that I saw for this a couple of weeks
ago. In a lab somewhere in Seoul around 1999, a scientist
tells his partner to go ahead and pour hundreds of old bottles of
formaldehyde down the drain, a drain that leads to the Han River
near the city. Cut to 2006; what can only be described as a
loser, Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) of the Park family, is sleeping at the
counter of his family's shop on the riverbank of the Han River.
He wakes up in time to see a humongous larvae/predator/sewer slug
starting to eat people and generally wrecking havoc on the coast; in
the process, he almost loses his father (Byeon Hie-bong) and he
absolutely loses his daughter (Ko Ah-sung). After the chaos,
Gang-du is quarantined along with his dad, his Olympic archer sister
(Bae Du-na) and his alcoholic brother (Park Hae-il), but the family
breaks out and formulates a plan to rescue Gang-du's daughter when
they learn that she might still be alive somewhere in the sewers
near the Han River.
So, the genre here is tough--sci-fi, horror,
action, rescue film, slapstick comedy (this part is tough to explain
without seeing it; I am assuming the comedy is intentional but mixed
with people getting chewed up by a large fucking slug, I'm not so sure)
and environmental hazard doomsday spectacle. "The
Host"--again, strangely--does all of these things reasonably well.
At no point do you find yourself laughing your ass off; you also
never really are wowed by the special effects; the scares are
minimal because you generally always see the slug thing coming; you
know the family will somehow rescue the girl but you don't really
know how, but even when you find out, you are underwhelmed.
If this was released by a North American
studio, it would open to so-so reviews and make middling cash.
The cast is really below par after Song's performance; they do the
"run around like your head's on fire" bit so well (taking a cue from
any "Godzilla" film, any time, ever) that you hope to forget that
there's a substantial amount of movie that DOESN'T feature the
slug-thing. The sets are blah, the music is blah, the fire
effects are so bad you WILL think this is a TV movie at times
(Korean big-budget films are not nearly as big-budget as they are
here in the States).
Honestly, I can't get over how average "The
Host" was. Even on video, I am convinced that this would
disappoint a person who had high hopes coming in, but if you come in
on an even keel, you might think that this wasn't too bad.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard