Film Review: Parasite (2019)

Also known as: Gisaengchung (original South Korean title)
Release Date: May 21st, 2019 (Cannes)
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Written by: Bong Joon-ho, Han jin-won
Music by: Jung Jae-il
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Jang Hye-jin

CJ Entertainment, Barunson E&A, 132 Minutes

Review:

“[to his son] You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned. Look around you. Did you think these people made a plan to sleep in the sports hall with you? But here we are now, sleeping together on the floor. So, there’s no need for a plan. You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything. It doesn’t matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?” – Ki-taek

It’s been long overdue but I finally checked out Parasite.

I actually had the opportunity to see this in the theater, two years ago. I passed on it, despite the buzz, because I wasn’t a fan of the other pictures I had seen from Bong Joon-ho. Those earlier films that I’ve seen are Snowpiercer and The Host.

This time around, Joon-ho captivated me and I really liked this movie, even if I think it’s been extremely overhyped and definitely wasn’t the Best Picture of the Year, as the ass clowns at the Academy decided.

The film is about an incredibly poor family that cons their way into a rich family’s home. All of them get various jobs for the rich people and they have to act like they’re strangers in order to protect the con. Then one night, while the rich family is away, the previous maid, who was unjustly fired as part of the con, returns and shit hits the fan.

For me, the story becomes unbelievable once you learn that the maid’s husband has been living in the labyrinthine basement for years, undetected by the rich family. In fact, I thought this part of the plot was kind of stupid and the rest of the movie was built off of this weird reveal. It reminded me of the implausibility of Snowpiercer and how that film fell apart for me, as it rolled on and got dumber and dumber.

The thing that makes Parasite not completely derail itself is its ability to build tension and how it essentially pits two families from two very different social classes against one another.

The picture is superbly acted from just about everyone. Even the young kid does a really good job.

My only real gripe about the movie is that it just makes some strange narrative choices, This is also the main flaw in the other Bong Joon-ho films I’ve seen. This one, however, is saved by its strengths, which keep it from completely falling apart for me. And it’s those great strengths and how they’re capitalized on that made me rate this as high as I did.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021)

Release Date: August 23rd, 2021
Directed by: Kwang Il Han
Written by: Beau DeMayo
Based on: The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Music by: Brian D’Oliveira
Cast: Theo James, Lara Pulver, Graham McTavish, Mary McDonnell

Platige Image, Hivemind, Studio Mir, Netflix, 83 Minutes

Review:

“This is the last time I allow any of you to ever hesitate.” – Vesemir

I assumed that after The Witcher show on Netflix did exceptionally well, that they’d milk it for everything it’s worth. While that’s not initially a bad thing, it probably won’t take long for them to water down the IP and make it just another franchise fans get fatigued on.

So the first next Witcher thing is this anime film, which I guess is the first of a series. If they want to keep my interest, they’ll have to do better than this, though.

That’s not to say it was bad, it was just okay. Honestly, it felt like a fairly half-assed effort and even though it focuses on the backstory for Vesemir, Geralt’s father figure, I don’t feel like it really gave anything meaningful to the mythos. Honestly, this felt more like fan fiction and nothing like what Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski would have intended.

Granted, the Netflix show takes tremendous liberties and this is just an expansion of that version of the property.

I thought that the character designs were okay but the animation didn’t blow me away. This, like a long line of modern anime by Netflix, is bogged down by a weird mixture of what appears to be traditional animation and CGI. To me, the two never blend together that well and it’s an issue I had with those shitty Netflix Godzilla animes and their original flagship anime series, Knights of Sidonia.

After seeing this, I’m not too enthused about future anime features based on The Witcher. I guess it just depends on what the premise of those future released will be.

Rating: 6.25/10

TV Review: Squid Game (2021)

Original Run: September 17th, 2021 (all episodes)
Created by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Directed by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Written by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Music by: Jung Jae-il
Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, Kim Joo-ryoung, Lee Byung-hun

Siren Pictures Inc., Netflix, 9 Episodes, 32-63 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I couldn’t avoid watching this any longer because of two reasons: the hype and because everyone was talking about it that if I didn’t watch it, the show would’ve been spoiled for me. So, this leapfrogged other shows I had in my queue first because I wanted to see it without it being ruined.

Overall, I did enjoy this but it didn’t blow me away. It’s become a mega-phenomenon almost instantaneously but I found it to be derivative of several things I’ve seen before. And I don’t mean that as a knock but those seeing this as a fresh concept, probably just haven’t watched enough movies.

Hell, in a lot of ways, this is Saw sequel with a much larger group, more appealing surroundings and a cash prize instead of just winning your right to continue living. Then again, that’s also exactly what the prize allows the winner to do, get a fresh chance at life with a new outlook, regardless of how fucked up the journey was.

There’s a big “twist” at the end too, where you discover who is behind this game and why they created it. None of it is all that shocking or surprising and if you’ve digested enough stories similar to this, you can arrive at these answers on your own. It’s honestly, lowest common denominator stuff and I was pretty disappointed in this reveal, as I had hoped the show would’ve thrown a legit curveball, knowing that many probably already thought that this was just a game to entertain the richest people, as the players are just disposable cattle or as the show puts it: race horses being gambled on for kicks.

All that being said, I still mostly enjoyed this because of the characters and their personal stories. Sure, I knew good people would do bad things and that terrible people would be the absolute worst. However, the show does make you care about these people and that’s really the only thing that holds it all together.

In the end, I hope that this stays a miniseries and that Netflix doesn’t try to convince the creator to make more. It’ll just go downhill from here and it’s always best to quit while you’re ahead. But c’mon, man… this is Hollywood. We’re definitely going to get more based off of how this show exploded in popularity, almost immediately.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Train to Busan (2016)

Also known as: Busanhaeng (original title), Invasion Zombie (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay), New Infection: Final Express (Japan – English title)
Release Date: May 13th, 2016 (Cannes)
Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho
Written by: Park Joo-suk
Music by: Jang Young-gyu
Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee

Next Entertainment World, RedPeter Film, Movic Comics, 118 Minutes

Review:

“Sorry, but you’re infected.” – Seok Woo

Apparently, this South Korean zombie film came out with a lot of praise and fanfare but I guess it just passed me by. That’s honestly my fault, as I barely pay attention to modern horror, as it just hasn’t been up to snuff for about two decades now, despite the occasional gem.

Well, this is one of those gems and I even liked it considering that I am most definitely exhausted with zombie flicks since they have legitimately monopolized the horror space in more recent years after vampire films cooled off and The Walking Dead became the most watched thing on television.

This film’s plot is pretty damn simple; a dad and his daughter get on a train to take them across South Korea just as a zombie outbreak happens. While on the train, people get infected and all hell breaks loose.

As the film progresses, we go from survivors trying to stay barricaded in train cars with zombies just a car away, then we get a great sequence in a train station and eventually, back on another train, as the few people left try to escape the hell that is chasing them.

As far as zombie movies go, this one, by the end, is one of the most emotional and heartbreaking ones I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you get to the climax and don’t feel like you’ve been mule kicked in the heart, you might not be human.

Additionally, the character arc of the little girl’s father in this is fucking superb. The guy goes from being a selfish coward to a real hero, after being challenged by his own daughter and another passenger that continually risks his life to save this sap, even after he nearly sacrificed the guy and his pregnant wife.

This was just a solid, fast paced movie from beginning to end and I couldn’t believe that it was nearly two hours as it flew by like it was only 80 minutes.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other foreign zombie movies with fairly fresh takes on the genre.

Film Review: Yongary, Monster From the Deep (1967)

Also known as: Taekoesu Yonggary (South Korea)
Release Date: August 13th, 1967 (South Korea)
Directed by: Kim Ki-duk
Written by: Kim Ki-duk, Seo Yun-sung
Music by: Jeon Jeong-Keun
Cast: Oh Yeong-il, Nam Jeong-im

Keukdong Entertainment Company, American International Pictures, 80 Minutes

Review:

Since almost every country under the sun tried to make their own ripoff of Godzilla, South Korea thought they could take a crack at it too. What they gave the world is Yongary: Monster From the Deep.

In this film, we are given a monster that looks like an unofficial Mexican knockoff of a rubber Godzilla toy with a rhino horn glued to its snout in an effort to not be sued. His name is Yongary but the Koreans spelled it Yonggary, which reminds me of Young Gary a gay porn that was really popular when I worked at a video store, back in the day.

Anyway, Yongary is unleashed on Seoul after being woken up by an earthquake. The Korean kaiju develops a taste for oil. When the oil supply is turned off, he goes ape shit. Eventually, he shows weakness when a refinery blows up. The Koreans then use oil to lure Yongary into a trap where he is killed and then bleeds out into the river. It is kind of a sad sight, actually. And if only Yongary would’ve been around fifteen years earlier, we could’ve used him to crush those commies to the north! Actually, the South Koreans missed the boat in not using oil to lead Yongary to the commie capital.

The special effects in this thing are pretty bad. While some idiots out there like to talk smack about the crappy special effects in Godzilla movies, I like to point to films like Yongary and say, “Well, this piece of shit makes Godzilla vs. Megalon look like Jurassic Park.” Besides, nothing in the 1950s or 1960s can compare to the miniature work of Eiji Tsuburaya’s in those earlier Godzilla pictures.

Yongary finally got the recognition it deserves though, as it is featured in the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Despite all the negatives though, I do like this film. I think you have to have a real love of kaiju pictures for this one to resonate but it is better than weak efforts like The X From Outer Space and Reptilicus. And at least Yongary doesn’t have that Dutch Jerry Lewis a.k.a. Dirch Passer, who made Reptilicus a lot worse than it needed to be.

Rating: 5/10