The Host


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Rating: R

Kang-ho Song as Park Gang-Du
Hie-bong Byeon as Park Hie-bong
Hae-il Park as Park Nam-il
Du-na Bae as Park Nam-Joo
Ah-sung Ko as Park Hyun-seo

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Director Bong Joon-Hoo Reflections
Commentary with Director Bong Joon-Hoo

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Korean Language
Running Time: 119 Minutes

The following is from the official DVD description:

“A creature plunges from the Han River Bridge into the river emerging on its shores for a feeding frenzy upon onlookers. When a young girl is snatched in the melee, her family set off to recover her from the monster that the government claims to be a host of an unidentified virus.

Watch the monster movie that destroyed international box office records!”

“The Host” is rated R for creature violence and language.

I absolutely love monster movies. From “Godzilla” to “King Kong” to “Jaws” to “Tremors,” I enjoy them all. So “The Host” was right up my alley. Any movie that features hapless civilians fleeing a giant monster about to eat them is OK in my book. The great thing about “The Host” is that it brings several new things to the genre. First of all, while most monster movies build up to the big reveal of the creature, “The Host” cuts right to the chase. In the first 10 minutes you see the monster jump on shore in broad daylight and chomp down on dozens of fleeing Koreans. The shock of revealing the creature so quickly is definitely effective. Second, its design is totally indescribable. It is part fish, part snake, part dog, part alligator, part monkey… it’s just really hard to describe. The freakish design makes it all the scarier as it displays its incredible abilities. While the effects aren’t the best ever seen on the big screen, they are more than adequate to provide impressive imagery and bring the creature to life.

As cool as the monster is, the rest of the film is a mixed bag. The tone of the movie is all over the map. In one scene children are brutally killed. In the next scene cops are chasing our heroes like the Three Stooges as silly music plays. In one scene the creature scares characters to death, in the next you see characters comically mourning the supposed death of the little girl. This wildly contrasting tone definitely counteracts much of the coolness of the monster.

There are also big cultural differences that are apparent in this film. You’ll find a definite anti-American tone to the story. It is apparent as we meet the American scientist who was responsible for the creation of the creature. He’s horribly cross-eyed. In another scene American soldiers hold a barbeque outside a trailer where the hero is being tortured. In another scene American soldiers gas Korean student protesters. You get the picture. Having worked in Korea myself I’ve seen first hand how friendly Koreans are and how anti-Americanism is very much alive there, too.

If you enjoy Japanese monster movies, anime, or monster movies in general, I highly recommend checking out this Korean entry into the genre. I might suggest fast forwarding to the creature scenes, though.

This edition of the DVD has a minimum number of bonus features. If you want more, I suggest you purchase the two disc special edition. On this edition you’ll find some deleted scenes. Most are fairly minor. You see a few scenes of civilians discussing seeing the monster before its big reveal. You also see a random assortment of reaction shots of the characters. But you’ll also see a few CG creature shots, too. The deleted scenes are followed by director commentary and “reflections” from the director. These mainly consist of his regrets about cutting scenes, apologies to secondary character actors for not showing their faces, and other random anecdotes.