Parasite / Gisaengchung (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2019) – An unemployed family takes interest in the wealthy Parks and goes down a dangerous road of fraud.
Genre-bending masterwork Parasite dives into the intimate lives of two families, forcing an introspective look into the difficult subject of the world’s growing social divide.
Bong Joon-ho is anything but a conventional filmmaker. Undeterred by controversy, his string of masterworks never steer away from sharp critiques on politics and capitalistic greed. The Host, Memories of Murder, and Mother; few have made movies as resonant as his, earning deserving acclaim for their layered reflection on South Korean society.
Recent years saw him reach English-speaking audiences with genetically-engineered pigs ripe for slaughter (Okja), and a brewing revolution aboard an analogous train (Showpiercer). The commentaries on class divisions again hit home for many, especially during this politically trying decade.
Back on home grounds, the South Korean director continues to transcend borders with his latest social satire on economic inequality. More akin to his former all-Korean productions, Parasite roots itself back in harsh reality, homing in on two families of different worlds.
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The Host / Gwoemul (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2006) – A family of four will do anything to rescue their youngest, from the monster that has risen from the depths of Han River.
Far exceeding the purpose of monstrous chaos, the creature feature finds heart in a moving story of a dysfunctional family’s last shot at redemption.
Eco-degradation has serious consequences. The Host personifies the danger into a living creature, whose mutation had resulted from chemical toxins that were irresponsibly dumped into Seoul’s Han River. With no purpose beyond destruction, the monster ravages the city and stores its human prey for food. Among its kidnapped victims is Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-sung), whose family would do anything to get her back.
As with how the World War’s nuclear anxieties had birthed Gojira back in 1954, the inspiration behind Gwoemul is also found in a real-world incident. In 2002, a South Korean employee of the U.S. military poured 20 gallons of formaldehyde into the same river, leading to anti-American protests by various environmentalist groups.
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Lucid Dream (dir. Kim Joon-sung, 2017) – After the abduction of his son, Dae-ho attempts lucid dreaming, an experimental psychiatric therapy that enables patients to access lost memories.
Better enjoyed as a dramatic thriller than science fiction, Lucid Dream owes more to its excellent cast than the jerry-built plotting.
When an elusive memory is all you have to find your missing child, what wouldn’t you give to relive it for a glimpse of a clue? That is what drives Dae-ho (Soo Go) to revisit the day of his son’s abduction over and over again. Assisted by neurologist So-hyun (Kang Hye-jeong), he repeatedly reconstructs the scene in hopes of uncovering forgotten details, even if the experimental therapy comes at a cost.
Entering the dream world is nothing new but a rehashed concept, which The Cell and Inception have put forth on a grander scale. Lucid Dream sets itself up for inevitable comparisons to its spiritual predecessors, but makes a lesser mark in terms of stunning visuals or layered storytelling.
Continue reading “Review: Lucid Dream / Lusideu deulim (2017)”
Fabricated City / Jojakdwen doshi (dir. Park Kwang-Hyun, 2017) – Framed for murder, Kwon Yoo escapes prison and enlists the help of his gaming buddies to uncover the sinister truth.
Looking for an adrenaline rush, but don’t mind a little predictability? Enter Fabricated City for a high-tech, high-octane adventure.
Taking down enemies by the horde, Kwon Yoo (Ji Chan-Wook) has made quite a name as the exemplary captain of Team Resurrection. In the gaming world, that is. In real life, he has been an unemployed gamer since the failure of his sporting career. Little did he expect for his ordinary life to be thrown into turmoil in days. Framed for statutory rape and murder, he is tried and sentenced to serve life in Supermax.
The problem? He has never, ever met his alleged victim. Disoriented by his ordeal, then tortured at the hands of hard criminal Ma Deok-soo (Kim Sang-ho) in prison, Kwon Yoo is determined to escape and prove his innocence. With the help of his gaming buddies, he uncovers not only the truth to his fabricated crime, but a larger conspiracy at hand.
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Train to Busan / Busanhaeng (dir. Sang-ho Yeon, 2016) – Passengers on the train from Seoul to Busan struggle to survive during a zombie virus outbreak in South Korea.
South Korea’s first zombie blockbuster Train to Busan reinvigorates the tired Z-genre, restoring character-driven drama to flesh-eating thrills.
A virus outbreak turns a train to Busan into the freight of the dead. Aboard with the infected, Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) will do anything to protect his estranged daughter Soo-an (Kim Soo-ahn).
Carnage on the streets casts doubt upon the existence of a safe haven. Still, glass doors are not built to last. Frantic survivors hang onto their only hope and persists to find a way out.
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