21 September 2020

K Movie Review: Parasite (2019)

I've long wanted to watch Parasite but it kept getting bumped off by other dramas. It didn't help that it's not available on Netflix so it's not easily accessible. Oppa and I finally found the time to watch it. And I must say it's definitely as good as advertised. 

Story


Parasite tells the story of the Kims (Song Kang Ho as Ki Taek, Jang Hye Jin as Chung Sook, Choi Woo Shik as Ki Woo/Kevin, and Park So Dam as Ki Jung/Jessica), a poor family who lived in a basement. 

The Kims made a living folding pizza boxes. Just as Ki Woo was applying for a full time job in the pizza place, his friend asked him to take over tutoring a high school student. Ki Jung, a talented forger, forged school documents for Ki Woo to make it appear that he was qualified to tutor. 

Ki Woo introduced himself as Kevin to the family of his tutee, the Parks. The Park family (Lee Sun Kyun as Dong Ik/Nathan, Cho Yeo Jeong as Yeon Gyo/Madame, Jung Ji So as Da Hye, and Jung Hyeon Jun as Da Song) was an affluent one. Kevin tutored Da Hye who fell for him. 

Ki Woo and and Ki Jung plot to take over the staff of the Park family. Ki Jung recommended Jessica (allegedly a friend's classmate) as an art teacher/therapist for Da Song. 

Ki Jung planted underwear on Mr. Park's car to make it appear that his driver was using it for extracurricular affairs. When the driver was terminated, Ki Jung then recommended his father (as a relative's family driver). 

The entire family then plotted against the Park family's long-time housekeeper by making it appear that the latter had tuberculosis. They were actually just scattering peach scents and crumbs all over the house to trigger the poor housekeeper's peach allergy. When the housekeeper was fired, Mr. Kim now recommended an agency that can supply housekeepers to VIP clients. The new housekeeper was, of course, Mrs. Kim. 

Things were going smoothly now that the entire Kim family was working for the Park family. But it didn't last long. While the Parks were out on an overnight camping trip and while the Kims were having a party at the Parks' mansion, the old housekeeper (Lee Jung Eun as Gook Moon Gwang) returned to retrieve "something" she left behind. Turned out that what she left behind was her husband (Park Myung Hoon as Oh Geun Sae). She hid him in a bunker under the house. The Parks were not aware that the mansion had a bunker. Moon Gwang could not get her husband because she was fired abruptly. Chung Sook threatened to call the police when she found out but Moon Gwang also found out that Chung Sook's entire family was leeching on the Parks. Chaos ensued but they had to fix things quickly because the Parks had to cut their camping trip short due to the rains. Mr. Kim locked up Moon Gwang and Geun Sae in the bunker, while he and his kids hid under the living room's center table. The Kims, minus Chung Sook, left in the middle of the night after the Parks fell asleep. 

The Kims thought their troubles were over but more misfortune awaited them at home. The sewerage system overflowed and their basement house was submerged in water. They had to spend the night in a gym. 

However, the Kims had to look presentable fast because they were all called back by the Parks the following day to help out during/attend Da Song's birthday party. Ki Woo planned on killing Moon Gwang and Geun Sae but the latter beat him to it. Geun Sae began attacking the Kims, starting with Ki Woo, then Ki Jung, Chung Sook, and finally Mr. Kim. Geun Sae, whom Da Song had seen before as a "ghost" shocked everyone. Da Song fainted upon seeing Geun Sae again and Mr. and Mrs. Park were panicking because they had to take him to the hospital within 15 minutes. Mr. Park wanted Mr. Kim to drive for them. However, Mr. Kim was busy attending to his daughter. He threw the car keys to Mr. Park and the keys landed near Geun Sae. As Mr. Park was about to pick up the keys, he covered his nose, probably due to the stench coming from Geun Sae. Mr. Kim, who previously overheard Mr. Park complain about his smell and the smell of people who rode the subway, probably could not take the oppression anymore that he left his daughter and stabbed Mr. Park. 

Ki Jung, Mr. Park, and Geun Sae died from the incident. Ki Woo underwent brain surgery and recovered eventually.  He still lived in that basement home with his mother. They were both released on probation. Nobody could find Mr. Kim. But it didn't take long for Ki Woo to find out that Mr. Kim was hiding in the bunker. Moon Gwang, who probably passed away during the bunker chaos, was buried by Mr. Kim in the Parks' garden. The Parks moved away but another family took over. Mr. Kim would sneak out once in a while to steal food from the refrigerator. Ki Woo vowed to work hard so that he'll be rich enough to buy the Parks' mansion so he can free his father once more. 

The Good

Parasite won numerous awards, the most popular of which was the Academy Award for Best Picture. I would have to say that all of these awards were well-deserved.

The cast was so good - all of them. We were familiar with some of them and we were pleasantly surprised with their transformation. 


It was quite difficult to guess that Chung Sook was the glamorous North Korean department store owner and mom of Seo Dan in Crash Landing on You. I could not see any trace of that poise in Chung Sook. She looked every bit the aggressive mother who would do anything for her family. 


Park So Dam was also a revelation here. We're watching her on Record of Youth right now and she's all cutesy there. But Ki Jung seems to be from a totally different planet. She's street smart and she had that gangster vibe in her. 

We're watching Choi Woo Shik on Summer Vacation and my initial impression was he's one of those guys who's smiling all the time and would make a good male lead or second male lead. But Ki Woo blew me away with how cunning he was. His decisiveness in plotting against Geun Sae and his wife showed how far he was willing to go to make his family's life better. If his father did not have a plan, then he was willing to plan for their family. 


We just saw Song Kang Ho in A Taxi Driver the day before and here he was giving us another stellar performance. Mr. Kim held everything in, probably for his family. Despite the things they've done, he still wondered about the driver that he replaced and if he was able to find a new job. But in the end, the inequality was just too much for him. He could no longer take how Mr. Park was openly mocking people like him. 


Geun Sae was scary. He was totally different from Seo Dan's funny and caring uncle in CLOY. Much like Mr. Kim, Geun Sae probably had enough due to his isolation. Add to that the fact that the only person who cared for him had been killed. Probably worse for him because the people who caused all of these were needy just like them. 


The Parks were spectacular as well but my most favorite was Lee Sun Kyun. We saw him on Summer Vacation and he seemed like a very laid back type of guy. I loved how he looked so regal in this film. 


I love this Parasite movie poster because it perfectly captures how the two families are alike but very different at the same time. They both have things to deal with. Mrs. Park has to run her household and find efficient staff for her family. These were big stuff for her but they obviously paled in comparison to the problems that the Kims had - having a decent house, jobs, and food to eat. 

This film is proof that life won't always be black and white. We will always be confronted with moral dilemmas. Was it wrong for the Kims to leech on the Parks? The means they used to achieve their goals were definitely wrong. But can you really blame people like them when their backs have been pushed against the wall too many times before? If the world refused to give them opportunities on numerous occasions, won't they find means, legal or not, to survive? 

Were the Parks at fault for failing to recognize how they were oppressing and maltreating the Kims? Probably. But if they've been rich all their life and they had no opportunity to learn about people who lived lives different from theirs, can we really blame them? Yes, we all have the responsibility to learn about the world around us - that people are different and we have to be flexible and reach out to those who are not as fortunate as we are. Unfortunately though, some people have lived too long in their own bubbles that it would take a lot to help them see beyond what's in front of them. 

Other people might find the sentence given to Chung Sook and Ki Woo too light. But that was actually one of the things I loved about the film. I liked how it recognized that while they did something wrong, you have to dig deeper than that. They had been poor all their life and when they were already so desperate, they had to resort to illegal means to survive. And while they still had to be punished, it was just and humane to give them another chance and hope that they would be more fortunate this time. 

Parasite was really good. I like how well-written and executed it was. It was funny until it wasn't, that is, until it became sad and heartbreaking. 

Oppa says...4.6.

Noona says...4.8. 



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