The film revolves around Park Hee-bong, a man in his late 60s. He runs a small snack bar on the banks of the Han River and lives with his two sons, one daughter, and one granddaughter. The Parks seem to lead a quite ordinary and peaceful life, but maybe they are a bit poorer than the average Seoulite. Hee-bong's elder son Gang-du is an immature and incompetent man in his 40s, whose wife left home long ago. Nam-il is the youngest son, an unemployed grumbler, and daughter Nam-joo is an archery medalist and member of the national team. One day, an unidentified monster suddenly appears from the depths of the Han River and spreads panic and death, and Gang-du's daughter Hyun-seo is carried off by the monster and disappears. All of the family members are in a great agony because they lost someone very dear to them. But when they find out she is still alive, they resolve to save her.Written by
The event described in the beginning of the film is based on an actual event. In February 2000 at a U.S. Military facility located in the center of Seoul, a U.S. Military civilian employee named Mr. McFarland was ordered to dispose of formaldehyde by dumping it into the sewer system that led to the Han River, despite the objection of a South Korean subordinate. The government attempted to prosecute Mr. McFarland in court, but the U.S. Military refused to hand over the custody of Mr. McFarland to the South Korean legal system. Later, a South Korean judge convicted Mr. McFarland in absentia. The public was enraged at the government's inability to enforce its law on its own soil. In 2005, nearly five years after the original incident, Mr. McFarland was finally found guilty in a court in his presence. However, he never served the prison sentence, and there have been no sightings of a mutant creature in the Han River - yet. See more »
The sewage they are searching the monster in, is dry and clean. See more »
[Strapped to an operating table, his head encased in a strange looking protractor-like contraption with a needle attached to it]
You're talking about a virus that doesn't exist. Mister, they said there's no virus. So, you should let me go now.
[He starts to sob]
My daughter Hyun-seo is under Wonhyo bridge.
I need to go quickly. Please let me go. Okay, mister, huh?
You shitheads! You bastards!
[Panicking desperately again]
Please, mister, I beg you, let me go. I'll give you...
[...] See more »
Just before the credits ends, you can hear a loud roar of the monster. See more »
A Funny and Frightening Thrill Ride with a Hefty Dose of Heart
It's a picturesque afternoon in the park near the river. Kids run gleefully as parents set up picnic lunches and enjoy the sunshine. Young couples lay together on blankets, friends toss a Frisbee - it's just about perfect... except for the giant creature hanging from the bridge.
Parkgoers quickly gather to gape at the mysterious something. They ooh and aah when the great beast slides into to water and eases its way over to the shallows, idling just beneath the surface. No one senses any cause for alarm. They lean closer and toss snacks into the river, as if it's a cute family of ducks.
But ducks don't have teeth like this thing.
The crowd erupts into panic as the monster reveals its lethal force and ravenous appetite. Among the crowd scurrying for their lives are an old food shack owner, his young granddaughter, and her dad. The dad displays his bravery by facing the monster, but he also displays also his imperfections by... well, I won't spoil that part.
Director and writer Bong Joon Ho cleverly details the family's dysfunction through subtle dialogue before the monster chase and in the aftermath. This family is a ragtag group without much clue about what to do, but they are nevertheless relatable and easy to root for.
Though the horror aspect is feature most prominently, the film contains layers beneath the surface for those interested in further examination. Bong Joon Ho manages to weave together elements of a family comedy, social satire, environmental conservation, and of course, a monster horror movie.
This is unequivocally Bong's movie. He expertly directs chase scenes with thrilling camera movements and engrossing framing choices that make you lean forward in your seat with excitement while you also partially cover your eyes in fear. It's a fascinating paradox.
In quieter moments, Bong unveils a novel's worth of background information through a few purposeful conversations between characters. Listen closely or you'll miss important details and have to watch the movie again. You'll probably want to anyway.
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