Posted by: kfugrip | December 10, 2007

One hundred seventeen: Gwoemul

Gwoemul (The Host in English), directed by Joon-ho Bong, is a monster movie with a underlying layer of serious social and political critique.

Gwoemul is about a family getting caught in the wake of a mutation emerging from the Soeul river. The father owns a stand that sells food by the river and his grand daughter is captured by the monster but not killed. The entire family assembles and tries to save the girl before a backdrop of government cover up and U.S. intervention.

What I liked: This was a smart movie that devolved into monster movie convention and didn’t suffer from it. The characters acted in a believable manner and seemed, by the end, to be more than two-dimensional renderings. The monster, while CG, was well done… considering. The plot was exciting and filled with powerful visual moments. The monster running through a crowd of people, throwing them into the air, grabbing them, or eating them was a fantastic opening scene and the excitement carried throughout. The aforementioned political and social commentary was a nice touch and felt well incorporated.

What I didn’t like: While the monster was well done, it still looked fake. The ending was so baroque that it veered into disbelief. It’s hard to blame the movie for that. It seemed natural that the ending would have to end with a bang. They did their best to avoid coincidence and earn the moments, but it doesn’t always work. I appreciate the skill in making a monster movie where you see the monster in the first reel and it still delivers as an exciting and surprising ride.

4 stars




  1. i wish i had been paying more attention to this movie, because i think i would have liked it even more. that said, from what i saw, regardless of other flaws, it is the most beautiful monster movie ever put on film. also one of the most enjoyable, though rarely, if ever, actually scary.

  2. Really, you guys? I found the tone and pacing of this all over the map, like a lot of Korean films. I don’t know why Korean films especially seem to have that problem. I wanted to like it much more. This dudes best film is Memories of Murder.

  3. I heard about Memories of Murder. If it’s better than The Host then I’ll check it out.

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