Bong Joon Ho is a cinematic wizard whose innovative storytelling and bold approach to filmmaking have captivated audiences worldwide. He possesses a remarkable ability to merge different genres seamlessly while weaving powerful social commentary into his works, creating films that are both entertaining and thought-provoking. From post-apocalyptic thrillers to heartwarming dramas, Bong Joon Ho has delivered a diverse array of cinematic gems that have left an indelible mark on the world of cinema, earning him accolades and a devoted following of fans. Below are five of his best masterpieces.
Follow Mija (portrayed by Seo-Hyeon Ahn) and her genetically modified porcine pal Okja on a thrilling and perilous adventure through the South Korean highlands as they defy the nefarious Mirando Corporation’s wicked designs. Biting satire is the meat of this cinematic feast, highlighting the ethics of animal rights and the insidiousness of the meat industry. From the dangers of industrialized food production to the exploitation of animals for human consumption, Okja serves up a sizzling commentary on the state of our food systems. But the film doesn’t stop there, delving into issues of corporate greed, environmental preservation, and the bonds between humans and their furry (or scaly or slimy) companions. Bong Joon-ho, the mastermind behind Okja, has a knack for weaving different genres seamlessly into one cohesive story. He’s a worldbuilder extraordinaire, crafting a vivid, fantastical universe that feels almost too real to be imagined. Bong’s creativity knows no bounds, and his precision in every frame makes Okja a true cinematic gem.
Kim Hye-ja’s riveting performance in Mother showcases a mother’s unconditional love for her son, Do-joon. After being wrongfully accused of a heinous crime, Do-joon’s mother takes on the challenge of uncovering the truth behind her son’s conviction. As society turns a blind eye to her son’s innocence, the devoted mother refuses to give up and pursues justice with unwavering determination. The story’s gripping narrative delves into themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the lengths a mother would go to protect her child. Director Bong Joon-ho’s signature visual style is on full display, with his clever use of long takes and unorthodox camera angles drawing viewers into the film’s suspenseful world. With expert pacing, the tension gradually ratchets up, leading to a gut-wrenching finale that is sure to leave audiences in awe. Kim Hye-ja’s stunning performance as a mother on a mission elevates the film’s emotional depth as she oscillates between unwavering loyalty and unbridled fear.
Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000)
Barking Dogs Never Bite is a peculiar film that follows the misadventures of a struggling professor, played by the talented Yun-ju, whose mind becomes fixated on muting the incessant barks of a neighbor’s dog. The movie takes a satirical approach as Yun-ju’s absurd and comically manic quest to silence the barking mutt unravels the senselessness of modern living and cultural norms. The film manages to skillfully weave in deeper themes such as loneliness, isolation, and the complex relationship between humans and animals. As the story unfolds, viewers are in for a treat with the film’s quirky humor and wry social commentary. The offbeat and delightful Barking Dogs Never Bite showcases the director’s signature creativity and storytelling ingenuity. Fans of Korean cinema and those with a penchant for the macabre will be remiss to skip this gem, as it provides a sharp critique of societal norms and the intricate bond between humans and their furry counterparts.
The Host (2006)
A gargantuan mutant beast has emerged from the depths of the Han River, sending Seoul into a frenzy of chaos and destruction. Amidst the pandemonium, one family’s world is shattered as Gang-du (portrayed by Song Kang-ho), the proprietor of a modest fried chicken stall, must embark on a perilous quest to rescue his kidnapped daughter from the clutches of the monstrous creature. In this high-stakes battle, Gang-du must swim through a chaotic city, face off against corrupt government officials, and rely on the unwavering support of his family to have any hope of defeating the beast. In The Host, Bong Joon-ho showcases his masterful skill of blending dread, humor, and satire, resulting in a superb amalgamation of all three genres. The movie’s distinctive cinematography and special effects bring to life a monstrously realistic creature that will send shivers down your spine. Bong Joon-ho’s unique style keeps you wanting more, with twists and turns that will leave you gasping for air.
In Parasite, the Kim family grapples with the harsh realities of life in a cramped and dingy basement in Seoul. Their fortunes change when they devise a cunning plan to insinuate themselves into the lives of the wealthy Park family. With each family hiding secrets and ulterior motives, tensions escalate, leading to a riveting and never-seen showdown that exposes the true nature of humanity. Parasite seamlessly blends themes of social class, inequality, and the darker aspects of human nature to create an intricate and thought-provoking tale that will haunt your grey long after the credits roll. In Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s cinematic artistry is evident in his deft handling of a rollercoaster ride between humor and terror, leaving the audience breathless with anticipation. The director skillfully employs a range of filming techniques, including varying angles and cuts, to underscore the stark contrasts in social and economic status between the two families. The result is an unforgettable exploration of power dynamics and the human condition.