Wednesday, February 07, 2007

You ever breath oxygen, kid?

I'm in Las Vegas for work (see my earlier post -- "Call Me Omarosa" -- the "games" have yet to begin so I'm still relatively in the dark on all that.

On the way out here today I watched THE HOST. Here's my initial take on it:

THE HOST / GWOEMUL (Joon-ho Bong, Korea, 2006)
A fun little creature feature that examines familial relationships and media manipulation along the way, THE HOST tells the tale of the Park family, a group of misfits whose patriarch runs a food stand on the banks of Seoul's Han River. His eldest son, Kang-du (Kang-ho Song), is a little slow and spends most of his time sleeping when he's not hanging out with his daughter, Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko), watching his sister gaffe in the national archery championships. Meanwhile, Kang-du's brother is a layabout lout who can't get over his days as a young revolutionary. Things come to a crisis for the Parks when a creature rises from the depths of the Han, causing death, destruction, and dismay as it drags Hyun-seo back into the brine with it.

Mudskipper Looking like a giant mudskipper, the creature makes its appearance early and not in any kind of spooky "hidden in the shadows" way. When it comes on the scene, everyone knows it. Luckily, the effects (at least on the small screen) are top notch which really adds to the excitement.

After the attack, everyone present (and still breathing) is taken to a government-run shelter. An American present at the attack is diagnosed with a virus and the word is spread that the creature is its host (thus the title). The only other person exposed as much to the dreaded fish is Kang-du. Already distraught enough about the loss of his daughter, he's soon taken aside for some surely painful tests. Little does he know that Hyun-seo is still alive; a prisoner of the creature in its sewer lair. When she places a brief call to Kang-du he tries to get his captors to believe him. Alas, no one in authority in THE HOST gives any credence to anyone other than other authority figures. Kang-du and the rest of the Parks easily escape the lame excuse for a quarantine center and begin their futile search for Hyun-seo through the sewers of Seoul.

I won't go on any more lest I give something away. Suffice to say that this is another fine play on a genre film by Joon-ho Bong. The last work I saw from him was MEMORIES OF MURDER (see Cashiers du Cinemart #14), a fine play on the serial killer film. This time out he presents a rather fully-realized work that could have simply been a fish tale. Recommended.

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