The Host (Korean Movie) or Gwoemul

Just saw my favourite movie of the year (so far) last night (with Where The Wild Things Are being a close second).

A Korean monster movie that starts out as a comedy but ends up being quite emotional, despite the huge lolloping amphibious alien that’s terrorising the city.

The film starts with a nasty (American) scientist (played by Scott Wilson) telling his young Korean assistant to dump loads of toxic waste down the sink which will end up in the Han River.

Suffice to say, within 10 minutes of doing this (you don’t have to hang around much in this film for the action to start), an huge mutant, monster is seen in the river which after being pelted with cans and rubbish by the locals decides to attack.

And attack he does! In great, sometimes – well most of the time – comedic style.
The CGI is pretty good and the physical fx created to make the monster look like he has a real presence (people being dragged, cars being flattened, water splashes, etc) are very well done and very convincing.

The Host Poster

The Host Poster

The monster makes the mistake of dragging away (and supposedly killing) the daughter of a young food stall owner (the hero – played by Kang-ho Song) by the river, and there’s a whole plot about a conspiracy of viruses, and contagions perpetuated by the American army in Korea (at some point there was a reference to Bird flu and the implication that this is also just a conspirary? Or maybe my Korean/Japanese subtitle reading was reading too much into it).
It would probably have been a whole other movie if it was in English and I could undertand more than 50% of what they were saying!

The daughter turns out to be alive and the family seek to rescue her.

It’s at this point that the comedy gradually fades and more of an emotional, suspense feel comes into the movie. The transition is handled really well I felt and it’s a well rounded, thoroughly entertaining movie.

More emotional weight in this one than the whole of Avatar!

Perhaps it was the bottle of Chilean red I was drinking but I was totally engrossed in the film and then ending reached almost operatic, melodramatic peaks despite it revolving around a CGI fishy/lizard monster being shot at and attacked – the use of classical music here was very well done as was the occasional extended silences during some action sequences which added to the drama rather than take it away.

Highly recommended if you’re taste in movies veers toward the Sci-fi/Monster/Asian/B-Movieish realm and even if it doesn’t (which Aki’s – my wifes – generally doesn’t – she rated it as “It was alright”), you might find something entertaining here.

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