The Host (Gwoemul) is one of the biggest Korean movie projects of recent times, directed by talented director Joon-ho Bong, featuring great cast, it went on and made a lot of money locally, becoming one of the highest grossing movies, gained international following, and was successful in many festivals abroad.
It's Seoul, a fine sunny day in a park on banks of Han river, when suddenly someone spots some kind of creature hanging under the bridge... moment later it disappears only to emerge on the shore and wreck panic among vacationers, amid them dawdle father Park Gang-Doo (Kang-ho Song) whose daughter gets kidnapped by the monster.
With budget of only 10 million dollars, working with Asian designers and New Zealand CGI professionals director managed to create something that in it's quality rivals and surpasses most monster and disaster films coming from Hollywood, where such sum of money is pocket change and barely enough to cover some actor fees.
As a disaster movie it touches many themes, including environment protection, politics. Displayed in satirical way is how Koreans feel about presence of US bases on their territory, which in movie are origin of the creature. Movie being critical of US in many ways even earned it fame among North Korea officials, which is a rare occasion for South Korean movie.
Despite it's many political commentaries about US, it's still an entertaining monster flick. Many western critics put it on their list of best movies of that year. Quentin Tarantino listed it as one of his favorites. Hollywood signed remake rights, but not much of it has been heard since.
A highly recommended, must-see.
Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon.
Blu-ray (UK) from YesAsia.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Boksuneun naui geot) is first movie of directors Chan-wook Park's Vengeance trilogy (movies are not connected by plot, only by theme, so viewing order is not important!), following his previous commercially successful and well received title Joint Security Area.
Story about Ryo (Ha-kyun Shin), a deaf worker with sister who needs a kidney transplant. Unable to help her by conventional means, he meets illegal organ dealers, and the criminals propose that he gives them his kidney and ten million Won to obtain a kidney suitable for his sister. Ryu accepts the trade, but he does not have money to pay for the surgery. His radical girlfriend convinces him to kidnap the daughter of his former employer, Park (Kang-ho Song) and extort money from him. However when least expected, a tragedy happens, which sets this story on path of vengeance.