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The Host (2006)

DVD Cover (Magnolia Pictures Collector's Edition)
Genres / Traits:
Creature Film, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi Horror, Kaiju
Director:
Joon-ho Bong Joon-ho Bong
Starring:
Kang-ho Song Kang-ho Song
Hee-Bong Byun Hee-Bong Byun
Hae-il Park Hae-il Park
Doona Bae Doona Bae
Ko Asung Ko Asung

7.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: January 20, 2007
The Host is one of those movies that has been hyped up for what feels like the last decade; seriously, it seemed like there was a new poster, some new images from the movie, or a fresh nugget of information making the rounds on movie sites every other day. It did so well in its native Korea, in fact, that Hollywood snapped up both the theatrical rights (tentatively scheduled for a limited run in March) and the remake rights almost instantaneously. Bet you didn't see that coming, did you? I finally got a chance to see it, and wow - this film doesn't just live up to the hype, it far surpasses it.

There's a lot of things going on in this storyline, far too much for me to spell out here, but things kick off when a giant monster emerges from a Korean river. This monster is vicious, brutal, and extremely dangerous; imagine combining Jaws, the T-rex from Jurassic Park, and a couple of Aliens for good measure, and you may have an idea of what this monster is capable of. The fact that this beast makes its presence known on a busy river-side street means that there is a lot of panic and mass hysteria to kick off the movie, and this leads us to our main characters for the film: a dysfunctional family.

Park Kang-du (Kang-ho Song) is a dimwitted slacker who works for his father Hie-bong (Hie-bong Byeon) at a small food stand that just so happens to be positioned right beside the river in question. When the monster emerges from the river, Kang-du's daughter Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko) is one of its victims, and it should go without saying that the father is devastated. His brother Nam-il (Hae-il Park) and sister Nam-ju (Du-na Bae) join him in his mourning, and then... Kang-du receives a phone call from his daughter. It turns out that she's still alive and that the monster has dumped her in a sewer system for later consumption. It becomes a race against time as this eccentric and highly-dysfunctional family attempts to find the little girl, but there's something even more dangerous than the monster to contend with: the government, who claims that this monster is spreading a virus and that anyone who has been exposed to it should be quarantined. Not the best situation to find yourself in when you need to be out and about in search of a loved one, is it?

This film blends together a lot of genres, a feat that few films can successfully pull off especially considering the genres at hand. There's the obvious horror and thriller aspects, but there's also some comedy, drama, and political undertones to be found as well. The transitions from one genre to the next are often abrupt (one needs look no further than the initial mourning scene for an example of this), leaving the audience guessing as to how they're going to react when the events taking place in the scene at hand wrap up. However, thanks to a rock-solid storyline and some stellar performances from the cast involved, it works out beautifully.

The main thing that I enjoyed about this movie was that you can look at it in two different ways, and either way, it comes across as highly entertaining. You could view this as a simple monster movie and walk away thoroughly delighted; the monster effects are excellent, there's plenty of carnage, and the tension level peaks out more than once as we breeze through the two hours of the film. With that said, there's an abundance of more subtle things being presented here, and those of you who want a little brain-candy to go along with your carnage will also be thrilled at how this plays out: there's the political statements that I mentioned above, and there's also plenty of drama as we get attached to this bizarre little family and go through this ordeal with them. Both aspects of the film work perfectly, and regardless of which one you may initially prefer over the other, you won't be disappointed when the credits begin to roll.

Everything about this movie is flawless, to put it simply. The cinematography is perfect, the special effects are superb, the storyline is much better than one would expect, and each and every last one of the main cast members should pull in some awards for their performances. This isn't just another monster movie, and in fact, it probably would have topped my "Best of 2006" list had I not posted it already. Yes, it's that damned good.

Go see it when it makes its limited theatrical run - you won't regret it. Don't wait for the remake, since I can tell you right now that it will not live up to the original: I can almost guarantee that the ending will be changed, it'll be turned into a mindless action movie, and all of the redeeming qualities will be stripped out. Don't let Hollywood's remake of the week be your first impression of this work of art. 10/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 04/23/2007, 10:46 PM
Found an NTSC of this on some random torrent site, and luckily it had subtitles. This movie had so much more going for it than just being a cool monster movie. 10/10, and I am so tempted to get the ultimate edition on eBay after seeing this.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 04/27/2007, 01:56 AM
just caught this at a small theater in colorado and was very impressed, I loved it. no complaints whatsoever. so happy I caught it :)
Cryptorchild #3: Cryptorchild - added 08/04/2007, 10:07 AM
First off, GREAT review. I couldn't agree with you more. I watched this film last night and just fell in love with it. It's really that damn good and it has so much going for it. I'd suggest you all watch it as well. 10/10.
danimigra #4: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 06:14 PM
is a really welldone film.. has everything a film has to be... 10/10 for sure...
C L #5: C L - added 04/14/2008, 03:05 AM
I just finished watching this 10 minutes ago, and...it was so good. You guys never let me down on recommendations. 9/10
Morguex #6: Morguex - added 06/03/2008, 08:00 PM
This was a really good movie, hard to find flaws with it.
One very important thing, you have to watch it in it's orginal language, the english voice over is horrible, takes away so much of the emotion of the movie.
9.5/10
Crispy #7: Crispy - added 10/21/2009, 04:19 PM
It was entertaining enough, although I"m not sure it's warranted all these 10/10s floating around.
Lucid Dreams #8: Lucid Dreams - added 11/02/2009, 11:40 PM
I enjoyed, but I agree with 385. 8/10
Greg Follender #9: Greg Follender - added 11/28/2010, 04:06 AM
Tremendous...
I was grateful to be able to see this gem in a small art-house theater when it released a few years back. I just revisited it on DVD recently and felt I needed to chime in on this site to sing it's praises (I had no idea it had already been reviewed ;-) !!!

A bit simplistic in it's wrap-up... and few things get glossed over in the final act... but even with these small short-comings, the film never loses it's terrific momentum and unique perspective. One of the finest "monster flicks" I've watched in a long time.

Another great project from a terrific new voice in Korean cinema... (see "Mother" for another fantastic dose of his vision)

The critter is sexy as Hell as far as mutant design goes... and that goes a looong way with me.
9/10 for the most original family drama with a monster thrown in I've ever seen!
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