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THE HOST (Korean)
  Publicity Stills of "The Host"
(Courtesy of Warner Bros)

Genre: Horror/Action
Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doo-Na, KO A-sung
RunTime: 1 hr 54 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG
Trailer: http://www.thehost.com.sg/trailer.html

Opening Day: 7 September 2006

Synopsis :

Food-stall owner, Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) walks out to the crowded Han Riverbank, when he suddenly sees a never-before-seen “something”, hanging from the Han River Bridge, and moving. The fascinated crowd around him start taking shots with their phones and digital cameras… until the “thing” climbs up onto the riverbank and begins to slash into the crowd. Gang-du has just enough time to witness the Creature snatching his daughter way and disappearing back into the river.

Chaos reigns over Seoul. The Han River area is under quarantine. Gang-du receives a phone call from his daughter Hyun-seo, frightened but very much alive. Against all odds, with the help of his remaining family members, he plans to infiltrate the forbidden zone near the Han River and rescue his daughter from the clutches of the horrifying Creature.

Movie Review:

As far as monster flicks goes, The Host is definitely not following the rules. For someone who is expecting the typical monster movies, that might spell trouble but a refreshing change for those who enjoy new twists to the age old formulaic genre.

If you have been following the synopsis and trailers, you will have a rough idea that the movie is about a hideous monster appearing at the Han River and in the midst of chaos, a father watches helplessly as his dearest daughter disappears under the water in the fins of a mutated fish-like monster. The anguished father soon launches a dramatic rescue mission to rescue his daughter against all odds.

The rising tension within the worried family of the abducted often exploded into comedic moments, making one wonder if it’s ok to laugh when the tension is so high. But by the time you see the dad falling asleep right before the rescue; you will just lose your control. Perhaps it’s the director’s intention to endear the worried family to the audience through the usage of laughter. By laughing and identifying some of the silly antics that the family does actually makes them seems real and makes the viewers root for success in their mission.

It seems that breaking the mould of a genre and intertwining with a different genre to accomplish something refreshing is becoming the trademark of director Bong Joon-Ho. His last film, Memories of Murder, a film about the first Korean serial killer in Korea history, didn’t exactly follow the footsteps of what many serial killer movies does. Instead of choosing to follow what many viewers are interested to find out, he took a different perspective and suddenly the film evolved into a whole new level of its own against its peers. It felt real and unforgettable. His fresh approach to old genre is continued in The Host.

Through out most part of the movie, monster created by the San Francisco-based The Orphanage was realistic enough to attract attention like a freak show. The only letdown was the finale where the special effect works suddenly look very amateurish. But still, it’s just a minor let down specially after the breathtaking rampage by the beast during the early part of this film.

Beside monsters creating havoc and the family in a frantic search for their missing girl, there are also plenty of undertones of anti-American sentiment through out in this movie. The director’s delicate touch on the normal struggling citizen against the bureaucratic red tapes was prominent. The movie also brings in various issues with foreign military actions and leaves you with a myriad of questions about all these unnecessary “necessary” foreign help.

The Host recently overtook The King and the Clown as the all time Korean box office hit and it accomplish the feat within an even shorter period of time. After watching it, it’s not hard to see why it’s such a hit in Korea. It has amusing family drama that many could relate to and top-notch computer generated effects which is worth checking out in a cinema that has digital screen capabilities.

Movie Rating:

(A monster flick that breaks the conventions of its own genre and creates a whole new entertaining one)

Review by Richard Lim Jr

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