There comes a point in most people’s lives when you have to make a decision. It never comes easy and the wrong decision could haunt you for the rest of your life. But come it does, and pretty soon you have to ask yourself – do I go after that fish/lizard hybrid monster and rescue my daughter and/or loved one or just assume that they are dead? What do you do?
For Gang-du, he decides to go after the creature and save his daughter, just like any normal father would do. Sure, he has to escape quarantine as he might have contracted a contagion from the monster and may risk infecting others. Also, he has to elude the government and the police who will hunt him down if he does escape. Not only that, but he has to find the creature and somehow find a way to kill it as well as rescuing his daughter and not get himself killed in the process. Should be easy enough for a guy whose father basically thinks he is a bumbling idiot.
Good thing he has his family to help him out.
For a film that seems like it would just be your average straight-up monster movie – queue up the previously mentioned fish-hybrid creature – it actually has some great dramatic moments and some comedy thrown in for good measure too. Kang-ho Song who plays Gang-du, the fool and comedic relief, the distraught father and the action hero, was a great bit of casting. He is quite funny, even when he is trying to be serious and instead of taking away from the part, it actually endears you to him a little more. He may not be the brightest bulb, but he means well and his feelings are genuine.
On the opposite side of the fence there is Ah-sung Ko who plays his daughter Hyun-seo, his father Hee-bong played by Byun Hee-bong, his brother Nam-il protrayed by Park Hae-il and Bae Doona who stars as his insecure sister Nam-joo, who always chokes when called upon, but comes through when truly needed. The family do have their moments as well, and they really are the perfect average family who squabble with each other, yet they do love each other no matter what and they bring a little light to the situation at hand.
The monster itself, while not scary in the slightest, is well done and it looks like it would be a fearsome creature were it real. The good thing about this film is that even though the monster is quite prominent throughout the film, it really is secondary to the drama played out by the family and the real horror. That horror funny enough, did not really come from the monster but by the reactions of the government and the world at large, and the possible ramifications that could come of it should something like this actually happen.. Though many films tend to focus on the villainous beast, as it usually is the main attraction, here, it is man.
This is definitely a fun film and extremely well done on all accounts. It is hard to pigeon-hole this movie into any single genre, though it is a horror film by all accounts. Kang-ho Song as Gang-du really steals the spotlight, though Ah-sung Ko comes close as his daughter who survives despite it all. A truly great film from writer Baek Chul-hyun and writer/director Bong Joon-ho and one that should be on everyone’s to-watch list whether a fan of monster movies or not.
5 out of 5