Movie Review – Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충)

TL;DR – A truly brilliant work of cinema that works on a character, action, and story level.    

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충). Image Credit: Madman Films.

Review

When you hear that a film has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival you immediately take notice. Because even though the voters at Cannes don’t always get it right, they always at least pick a film that is interesting. Well today not only do we get a film that is interesting, but we also get a film that made me feel multiple different emotions throughout its run time, and made an entire cinema audible gasp more than once, like the whole cinema. Well, Parasite is a more than just interesting film. Now in this review, we are going to avoid saying too much about the ending, but just, in general, this is a film that is best seen with as little information as possible.  

So to set the scene, we open in on the Kim family: father Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), mother Choong-sook (Jang Hye-jin), son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), and daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam). They live in a semi-basement flat in the poorer part of Seoul trying to make a living from whatever odd jobs they can find, like folding pizza boxes into shape. Then one day one of Ki-woo’s old army friends who is now in university comes to visit. He lets Ki-woo know of a job as an English tutor to a rich family that would pay very well. The only problem is that Ki-woo never went to university, even though he is qualified for the job, so he gets his sister Ki-jung to fake him up some university records and shows up at the Park family house. Mr Park (Lee Sun-kyun) is a successful businessman who runs a company and spends a lot of time away from the house, so he leaves his wife Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) in charge of hiring and she is apparently a bit dim. Well, when she watching his lesson with her daughter Da-hye (Jung Ji-so) she mentions that they are looking for an art tutor for their son Da-song (Jung Hyun-joon) and Ki-woo knows just what to do.

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Movie Review – Svaha: The Sixth Finger (사바하, Sabaha)

TL;DR – This is a film that starts of in this weird tonally mismatched place and then as we delve deep it reveals the strength on which it is developing.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Svaha: The Sixth Finger. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are times when a surprise is really good and then there are times when you unknowingly walk into a situation that you never expected. Today we have a bit of the latter as we look at the Korean film Svaha. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, nor even what genre of film I was about to watch, I just thought it would be a good idea to catch up on some world cinema before I went to bed. Well, there are many things forthcoming in the world, but after this film, a good night’s sleep is not one of them. With that in mind, to put off going to sleep, even though it is 6 degrees in Brisbane tonight, and hold off the nightmares for an hour or two, I’m instead going to write this review.

So to set the scene, we open in a small farming town in 1999 where a woman has given birth to twin girls. However, one of them is a monster, and the doctor doesn’t think it will last the night. Soon both Geum-hwa’s (Lee Jae-in) parents are dead but her sister did not die, she lives on hidden by the family not even taught how to speak. In the present day, Pastor Park (Lee Jung-jae) is given a lecture at a local theological college. Park is an expert on new religious movements and cults in particular. He is looking to make sure that they don’t become a danger as they have been in other countries. However, it feels like he is more drawn to scandal to make a quick buck than by any real spiritual connection. One of the many groups he is monitoring is a small Buddhist-adjacent organisation who has a symbol of a deer on their buildings. But his convictions are tested when he starts digging deeper and the bodies start piling up.

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Movie Review – Extreme Job (Geukhanjikeob, 극한직업)

TL;DR – This is a film that is hilarious, funny, and had me laughing from start to finish.     

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Extreme Job (Geukhanjikeob, 극한직업). Image Credit: CJ Entertainment.

Review

There are many reasons that you may want to go to the movies. You may want a visual spectacle, an interesting character study, or maybe you just want to site and laugh your heart out. Well, today I look at a film that has the distinction of being not one but all of these things at once. Even better I had no idea about this film before seeing it, other than the title, so I didn’t know I was about to see one of the best films of the year when I walked in. Also just a pro-tip, do not go into this film on an empty stomach, trust me on this one, or at least plan to go get food the moment the film ends.  

So to set the scene, we open on an illegal gambling den as police radios crackle to life with instructions reminding everyone to limit property damage as they repel down the side of a building to block off all avenues of escape. This means no smashing through windows like you are an action star and politely asking the criminal to turn himself in … and that goes about as well as you can expect. The whole team Chief Go (Ryu Seung-ryong), Detective Jang (Lee Hanee), Detective Young-ho (Lee Dong-hwi), Detective Ma (Jin Seon-kyu), and Detective Jae-hoon (Gong Myung), chase after the suspect through the streets of Seoul only for them to have everything fall apart. They are dragged in front of the Police Superintendent (Kim Eui-sung) and berated for their incompetence, with the very real chance that their team will be disbanded. Everyone knows that they are on their last chance when Choi (Song Young-kyu) the head of a rival police taskforce gives them a tip that Lee Moo-bae (Shin Ha-kyun) one of Korea’s big drug players is about to return to the country. So the team has to engage in the biggest stake-out in their history, and it goes about as well as you expect.

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Movie Review – The Villainess (Ak-Nyeo, 악녀)

TL;DR – Some of the most fascinating actions sequences I have ever seen, sandwiched between one of the dullest stories I have ever watched. I don’t think I have reviewed a film with such extremes in quality before, it was both fascinating and disappointing all at once.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – No

The Villainess (Ak-Nyeo, 악녀). Image Credit: Well Go.

Review

Wow, I don’t think I have ever come across a film like The Villainess before that had the ability to both deeply interest me and also deeply bore me all in the same film. In a story of two halves, you have some of the most fascinating action sequences I have ever seen put to film, and in the other half a spy revenge tale that was just a slog to get through. On the one hand, having such a discrepancy is interesting to talk about, but also it was really frustrating because you could see such potential squandered so badly.

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Movie Review – The Battleship Island (Gunhamdo, 군함도)

TL;DR – A harrowing look at a moment in our past that we need to deal with if we want to avoid repeating our mistakes.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Battleship Island. Image Credit: CJ Entertainment.

Review

This year after watching the simply amazing Okja (review) and Train to Busan, a film that redefines a genre and one I really need to write something on, I decided to try and get out and see more Korean cinema. Now, unfortunately, it can be a bit difficult to find here in Australia, but thankfully a cinema near me does get some of the new releases from Asia from time to time. So today I continued my exploration of Korean cinema with the fascinating The Battleship Island. So what is the film about? Well how far would you go to protect your daughter from the world around her, what would you do break a revolutionary leader out prison, how far would you go to exploit the people under you to make a quick buck? These are some of the questions The Battleship Island tries to answer.

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Movie Review – Okja

TL;DR – Beautiful, moving, devastating, unsettling, emotional, heart-breaking & powerful

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

P.S. – There is a post-credit scene

Okja. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Wow, just wow, for a long time Netflix has been moving into the movie distribution industry, but so far they really have not put out anything truly remarkable, focusing more on Adam Sandler type movies, when they actually get around to promoting them. So when some friends in the industry mentioned that Okja was the real thing, I was surprised, then I found out that it was made by Bong Joon-ho, whose Snowpiercer was a fascinating film, even if I did have a couple of issues with it. So I loaded up Netflix, put out my lunch, and wondered what we were going to see, and I can honestly say I was not prepared for the feels, in any way shape and form.

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