Directed By: Joon-ho Bong
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park
Tag line: "Man has made his newest predator"
Trivia: The crew of the film used metal barrels to make the splash effects whenever the monster would dive into the water
Director Bong Joon-ho’s 2006 film The Host is one nifty monster movie, with some incredible special effects and a hapless but likable group of central characters.
The trouble begins when a U.S. military doctor stationed in Korea orders a subordinate to dump 200 bottles of formaldehyde down the drain. The chemical makes its way to Seoul’s Han River, where, over time, it causes an amphibious creature to mutate into a giant monster. When this oversized beast attacks a seaside village, it carries off young Hyun-Seo (Ah-sung Ko), the daughter of Park Gang-Du (Song Kang-ho). Joined by the rest of his family, which includes father Hie-Bong (Byun Hee-bong); alcoholic brother Nam-il (Park Hae-il); and sister Nam-Joo (Bae Doona), Gang-Du begins a frantic search for the monster’s underground lair, hoping to find his beloved daughter before she becomes a midnight snack.
Its social commentary aside (the dumping of the formaldehyde is based on an actual incident that occurred in 2000), what makes The Host such an entertaining motion picture is its monster. The first time we see the creature is from a distance, as it hangs under a nearby bridge. A crowd gathers to stare at it, but before anyone can react, the monster dives into the water and swims for dry land, killing dozens as it stampedes through the busy district. The CGI in this sequence is flawless (it could be the most impressive monster attack I’ve ever seen), and even in later scenes, where we get “up close and personal” with it, the creature looks absolutely phenomenal.
In the end, though, The Host is as much a family drama as it is a sci-fi / action film. After receiving a call from Hyun-Seo, saying she’s trapped in the sewers but still very much alive, Gang-Du and the rest of the Parks break out of a military hospital (everyone who was present at the first attack had been quarantined) and start searching for the most promising member of their family. Prior to this tragedy, Gang-Du was something of a loser, operating a snack stand alongside his father and lacking the ambition to do anything else. Once his daughter is missing, however, he springs into action, and it’s his unyielding determination to save Hyun-Seo that gives The Host its heart.