Blu-ray review: “Bong Joon-ho Blu-ray Re-release” (2019)

“Bong Joon-ho Blu-ray Re-release” (2019)


Written and Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

Featuring: Lee Sung-jae, Bae Doona, Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Roi-ha, Park Hae-il, Byun Hee-bong, Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun and Jang Hye-jin

Detective Park Doo-Man: “Did you see his face?”

[Girl Nods]

Detective Park Doo-Man: “What did he look like?”

Schoolgirl: “Well… kind of plain.” 

Detective Park Doo-Man: “In what way?”

Schoolgirl: “Just… ordinary.” – “Memories of Murder”

A few months ago a collection of films were released in a box set ‘Bong Joon Ho Collection’ which contained many of the directors work including “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (2000), “Memories of Murder” (2003), The Host (2006), “Mother” (2009) and “Parasite” (2019). Now they have all been released individually with “Parasite” being given the 4K treatment and it has never looked better.

Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean film director, producer and screenwriter. His films are characterised by emphasis on social themes, genre-mixing, black humor, and sudden tone shifts. He first became known to audiences and achieved a cult following with his directorial debut film, the black comedy “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (2000), before achieving both critical and commercial success with his subsequent films: the crime thriller “Memories of Murder” (2003), the monster film “The Host” (2006), the science fiction action film “Snowpiercer” (2013), and the Academy Award-winning black comedy social thriller “Parasite” (2019), all of which are among the highest-grossing films in South Korea, with “Parasite” also being the highest-grossing South Korean film in history.

All of Bong’s films have been South Korean productions, although both “Snowpiercer” and “Okja” (2017) are mostly in the English language. Two of his films have screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival— “Okja” in 2017 and “Parasite” in 2019; the latter earned the Palme d’Or, which was a first for a South Korean film. “Parasite” also became the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award nominations, with Bong winning Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, making Parasite the first film not in English to win Best Picture.

“Barking Dogs Never Bite” (2000)

Ko Yun-ju, an unemployed academic, lives in a large apartment complex with his pregnant wife Eun-sil. He is struggling to become a university professor and grappling with his strained relationship with Eun-sil. Searching for the loudly barking dog of one of his neighbors, which is driving him crazy, he finds an unattended Shih Tzu. He tries to drop the dog from the roof, but hesitates and is stopped when an old woman comes to dry radishes there. He takes the dog into the basement instead and, after being unable to hang it, locks it inside a cabinet.

Park Hyun-nam, the lazy bookkeeper and custodian of the apartment complex, longs to be famous like a bank teller she and her friend Yoon Jang-mi saw on TV who was rewarded for stopping a robbery. A little girl comes to Hyun-nam with flyers she wants to hang up in order to find her missing dog, the Shih Tzu. Yun-ju continues to hear barking, and sees the old woman from the roof with her Min Pin, the actual source of the noise. He reads on the flyer for the missing dog that it was unable to bark because of a throat operation. Realizing his mistake, he goes to the basement at night to free the dog from the cabinet, but hides when a janitor comes in. Yun-ju watches in horror as the janitor pulls out the dead Shih Tzu and prepares to eat it.

“Memories of Murder” (2003)

In October 1986, two women are found raped and murdered on the outskirts of a small town. Local detective Park Doo-man, not having dealt with such a serious case before, is overwhelmed—evidence is improperly collected, the police’s investigative methods are suspect, and their forensic technology is near non-existent. Park claims he has a way of determining suspects by eye contact. He decides to first question a scarred mentally handicapped boy, Baek Kwang-ho, because he used to follow one of the victims around town. Park uses his eye contact method, thinking Baek is responsible, and has his partner Cho beat confessions out of Baek.

Seo Tae-yoon, a detective from Seoul, volunteers to assist them. However he and Park’s methods clash. Seo deems Baek’s hands too weak and scarred to be able to commit such an elaborate crime, clearing his name. After more murders are committed, they realize that the killer waits until a rainy night and only kills women wearing red. 

“Mother” (2009)

An unnamed widow lives alone with her only son, selling medicinal herbs in a small town in southern South Korea while conducting unlicensed acupuncture treatments for the town’s women on the side. Her son, Yoon Do-joon, is shy, but prone to attacking anyone who mocks his intellectual disability. She dotes on him and scolds him for hanging out with Jin-tae, a local thug. When Do-joon is nearly hit by a car, he and Jin-tae vandalize the car and attack the driver and passengers as revenge. Jin-tae blames Do-joon for the damage done to the car, and Do-joon is sued. His mother struggles with the burden of the debt.

“Parasite” (2019)

The Kim family—father Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, daughter Ki-jung, and son Ki-woo—live in a small semi-basement apartment, have low-paying temporary jobs as pizza box folders, and struggle to make ends meet. University student Min-hyuk, a friend of Ki-woo’s, gives the family a scholar’s rock meant to promise wealth. Leaving to study abroad and knowing his friend needs the income, he suggests that Ki-woo pose as a university student to take over his job as an English tutor for the daughter of the wealthy Park family, Da-hye. Ki-woo, presenting himself as a Yonsei University student, is subsequently hired by the Parks.

The Kim family schemes to get each member of the family a job by posing as unrelated and highly qualified workers to become servants of the Parks. Ki-jung poses as “Jessica” and, using Ki-Woo as a reference, becomes an art therapist to the Parks’ young son, Da-song. Ki-jung frames Yoon, Mr Park’s chauffeur, for having sex in the car, then recommends Ki-taek to replace him. Finally, Chung-sook takes over as the Parks’ housekeeper after the Kims exploit the peach allergy of the long-time housekeeper, Moon-gwang, to convince Mrs Park that she has tuberculosis. Ki-woo begins a secret romantic relationship with Da-hye.

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