It Came From South Korea – The Host

3 06 2011

Monster Movies come from all over the world. You may think that they only come from America and Japan. Well King Kong, Cloverfield and films by Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen come from America and films like Godzilla and Gamera come from Japan but while that is true there are monster films all over the world. Reptilicus is from Denmark and The Host is from South Korea.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho who previously made Memories of Murder, the film was heavily anticipated and was released in a record number of cinemas.The film became the highest grossing South Korean film of all time. The film also had a very positive release outside Korea.

“It’s Jaws via Jurassic Park, Hugely Entertaining” – Total Film

The host is different to most other monster movies in many different ways. There is usually a lot of science explaining the background of the creature but that is not explained but seen in the first few scenes. There are usually a lot of military pieces in the film but this concentrates more on the people affected in the film. The monster is not the major part of the storyline but part of the major storyline and a key factor in that part. The creature is also not as gigantic as many other monsters but this does mean it is more up close and potentially more dangerous, the creature itself is no bigger than a bus whereas monsters like Godzilla are the size of Skyscrapers.

The music is also interesting. Many monster films use classic orchestras but are still able to pull off big action music where as the host keeps it classical. In particular the attack on the creature at the end of the film sounds more like something found in a theatre other than a film. There is also some Traditional Asian sounding music with Big Drums. During the creatures initial attack the sound of drums pounding makes the sense of danger and when you see the creature it is like a Dragon is approaching and the drums portray this well and the pounding gets heavier until the attack is over.

The film begins with an American Scientist telling his Korean Assistant to pour over 200 bottles of Formaldehyde down the drain and into the Han River (Seoul). Over the next few years there are sightings of a bizarre creature in the river. The film then turns to a food stand run by a man named Park Gang-du and his Father Hee-bong. Gang-du’s daughter Hyun-seo come home from school and goes with her father to watch Nam-joo in an Archery Tournament and Gang-du shows his daughter a tub full of pennies he is saving up to buy his daughter a new mobile phone. Hee-bong tells Gang-du to go and serve some customers. Gang-du notices that everyone in the nearby area are looking at something odd hanging under a nearby bridge.

Under the bridge is an odd black creature which drops into the water. After it is pelted at by the people gone to check it out the creature swims away. Gang-du then notices something in the near distance. The creature has come out of the water and is now attacking everyone nearby. It then begins to feed on several people while an American and Gung-du fight the creature.

After watching Nam-joo lose in the competition Hyun-seo goes outside and is grabbed by her father who then let’s go and grabs the hand of another school girl mistakenly thinking it was Hyun-seo, who is then grabbed by the creature. Gung-do chases after it but is unable to catch up with the creature.

Gang-du and Hee-bong are then forced to evacuate the area to an evacuation center and meet up with Nam-joo and other family member Nam-il. They are sad at the apparent loss of Hyun-seo (a very funny scene of the family rolling around and complaining including the impressive sitting down drop kick performed by Nam-il).  The family is then taken into quarantine after it is discovered that the creature is the host of an unknown virus. During the night Gang-du gets a phone call from Hyun-seo who is not dead but trapped in a sewer. Gang-du tries to tell the authorities but they don’t listen. The family then escapes the hospital they are in to look for Hyun-seo. The four of them then become wanted by the government. They search the river looking for Hyun-seo and eventually return to the food stand to get some sleep and something to eat.

In the sewer Hyun-seo is alive in the creature’s lair and is joined by a small boy called Se-joo who was captured by the creature. His brother did not survive. Se-joo and Hyun-seo decide to try and escape from the creature’s lair while also hide from the creature when it is in the lair.

Back at the food stand the family see and attack the creature; soldiers hear the shots and go in for a closer look. Hee-bong is killed and Gang-du is captured by the soldiers. Nam-joo and Nam-il escape. Nam-il manages to trace the phone call from Hyun-seo and is almost captured by people wanting money for his capture. He manages to escape and sends a message to Nam-joo and Gang-du saying where she can be found. Nam-joo then goes to find Hyun-seo and kill the creature but is knocked unconscious by the creature.

Gang-du overhears that there is no virus just before scientists do more tests on him. He escapes and goes in search for Hyun-seo and discovers that the creature is carrying her. Nam-joo wakes up and goes with Gang-du to chase the creature. Nam-il and a tramp fill up bottles with flammable liquid and go to fight the creature. On the riverbank a protest is going on to stop the use of Agent Yellow, a chemical designed to completely annihilate all chemical agents. The creature arrives and the chemical is released. It stuns the creature giving Gang-du enough time to reach inside the creature’s mouth and pulls out two children. The creature reawakens and tries to return to the river. Nam-il and the tramp pour flammable liquid all over the creature and Nam-joo sets the creature on fire using her archery skills. The creature runs towards the river but is then killed when Gang-du shoves a road sign in its mouth.

The remaining family members are sad about the loss of Hyun-seo but Gang-du takes Se-joo home with him who is still alive. In the final scene Gang-du and Se-joo live together in a newly built food stand. A report about the Virus incident is on the television but they decide to turn it off and concentrate on eating their food.

The film does not have much dialogue compared to lots of films but uses the same form of dialogue that can be found in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The House of Flying Daggers in that the characters speak in Korean (apart from the small number of Americans) and what they are saying is translated into English and displayed in writing at the bottom of the screen.

The special effects work brilliantly and with the creature being quite small there is a feel of how dangerous it is due to it being more up close and personal. There is also music in The Host which helps with scenes particularly when the creature attacks. With the theme of the film being more about the people involved and not just the government’s reaction this film is a lot like Cloverfield and even challenges Cloverfield to which is better.

With a Good blend of Action, Comedy and Monsters The Host is a Fantastic Film and needs to be watched. Although it is not as Fantastic as Godzilla it is one of the best Monster Movies around – it’s better than the 1998 American (not technically a Godzilla film) Godzilla. It is a Great way of showing many other themes that can be used in Monster Movies and overall is a Fantastic Monster Movie.


Off-Topic: Do you like the New Theme for my Blog.



7 responses

3 06 2011
Monster Month « Numb3r5s's Blog

[…] The Host (Voted) […]

22 06 2011
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[…] films in the Japanese Series. However it is hard to decide which is better between Cloverfield and The Host. The Cloverfield Monster is Gigantic where as the Host is a lot smaller but The host is slightly […]

12 10 2011
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[…] another one where I let you choose 1 of 7 Monster Movies and then I would review that aswell. Both The Host and Cloverfield were chosen and so I reviewed them in June aswell as 3 other monster movies […]

2 12 2011
I Wrote A Monster Movie « Numb3r5s's Blog

[…] the Godzilla Films. I also like films like The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Cloverfiled, Gamera and The Host. Well I have now written a Monster Movie. I don’t know if you have seen Arbitrary Stopframe. […]

5 01 2012
Happy or Sad Results: 2 Film Reviews « Numb3r5s's Blog

[…] a poll I might just choose films that I actually like, I already did that once before; I reviewed The Host and Cloverfield. Maybe I could do a Review of that Monster Movie I wrote. I suppose I could do a […]

15 08 2012
My Top 10 Favourite (NON-GODZILLA) Films « Numb3r5s's Blog

[…] is also the highest grossing South Korean film in History. A Must see for all Monster Movie Fans. Read My Review Here (it is important to make sure you do not mix this up with a film of the same name coming out next […]

16 09 2013
Your Choice 5 (Part 1): Classics | Numb3r5s's Blog

[…] 4 occasions (ok, one of them was mid 2011), I have reviewed High School Musical, Cloverfield, The Host, Slumdog Millionaire and Star Wars Episode 1. Now we arrive at the 5th vote, but over the course of […]

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