Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Gwoemul (AKA THE HOST) - the FRESHEST monster movie of 2006?

This might be old news to the lucky readers that live outside of the US and saw this released already. From a few folks, I've been hearing really amazing things about Gwoemul (The Host in English, グエムル in Japanese). Sounds like a a mix of solid, monster & murder mayhem, political commentary on fucked up post-colonialism in E. Asia, with a dash of the joke stylings of Korean comedies.

The story takes its starting point from a real event:
"The event described in the beginning of Gwoemul is based on an actual event. In February 2000 in a US military facility located in the center of Seoul, US military civilian employee Mr. McFarland ordered to dispose formaldehyde into the sewer system leading to Han River despite the objection of a Korean subordinate. Korean government attempted to prosecute Mr. McFarland in Korean court but US military refused to hand over the custody of Mr. McFarland to the Korean legal system. Later, a Korean judge convicted Mr. McFarland in absentia. Public enraged at the Korean 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 Korean court in his presence. He never served the actual prison sentence, however."
- from IMDB

Here is one of a few English reviews online. You can check out the UK Trailer here:

For some more info and stills, The Japanese official site has a lot of details. According to Twitch, even even Kim Jong-ill loved the movie, for it's 'anti-American influence' stance and subtext.

Has anyone seen this? Was it as radical as it sounds? Twitch says it's set to come out in the US at the end of January.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I saw this two weeks ago or so. It's good, but I didn't think it was as amazing as it was made out might be. The movie can't really decide if it wants to be a straight-up monster flick, social satire or working class drama, and in the end it's not really satisfying enough on any of these levels.

I though Joon-ho Bong's previous Film Memories of Murder was WAY better (probably one of the top 3 Korean Films since 2000) so I would definitely recommend you see this one.

Anonymous said...

dude I saw this the day after it came out in a theatre in Korea. it was AWESOME. Koreans enjoy mashing up their movie genres (i.e., Save the Green Planet), and I thought it was actually pretty great. The monster was pretty damn good-lookin', the random comedy bits were fuckin hilarious, the social shit was ... well it pandered to the Korean distaste for Americans.

I did really like Memories of Murder (I didn't even realize they were directed by the same dude), and they are pretty different. I might have liked Memory of Murder better too, buuuuut I'd still say see Gwoemul, you'll like it

Ryan said...

Ben: Man, you europeans get all the cool movies first!! Glad to hear you dug it, despite it not living up to the fulll promise. I definitely will check out "Memories of Murder" as well-- Just found it on amazon(US).

Helllen: dang girl , IN KOREA. I'm interested in the fact that it indicts americans AND is a monster movie, in the classic sense. I am gonna be all over both of these. The other it sounds like I can get on DVD, but i am really hoping to see Gwoemul in the THEATER!!

PS: doesn't the parkside chomp chomp scene in this movie remind anyone of photographer Charlie White's stuff? In a good way, of course. Evan has a book of his work and it's really really amazing:

Anonymous said...

YES RYAN! WATCH IT IN THE THEATER!!!! The big screen is great, and I guess it might be different here, but being surrounded by hundreds of gasping, hollering, roaring Koreans in a theater watching Gwoemul pulled at my Little Nationalist heartstrings

Anonymous said...

I know Godzilla. And you, sir, are no Godzilla.

But this looks pretty awesome anyway.

Anonymous said...

I saw this on a plane in December. I love monster movies and this was a good one. I couldn't follow the whole story but I am going to watch it again when I get a chance.