Film / The Host

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This page is for the 2006 movie. Tropes about the 2013 movie adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer book of the same name should be placed on the book's trope page.

The Host (or Gwoemul, as it's known in its home country) is a critically acclaimed 2006 film by Bong Joon-ho, combining aspects of the kaiju movie, the political satire, and the family dramedy. It absolutely swept the Blue Dragon Awards and the 1st Asian Film Awards, and is also the third highest grossing South Korean film of all time, selling around 13 million tickets. It's also one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite movies of recent times.

After an American military pathologist stationed in Korea dumps over 100 bottles of formaldehyde down the drain (this part really happened and was a big scandal in the newspapers, although a company dumping MILLIONS of liters into the same river went largely unnoticed, as it was done by a local company, and not the Americans), a mutated, twenty foot tadpole creature shows up on a beach, and eats a bunch of people before disappearing (this part didn't really happen).

The film is based around protagonist Park Gang-du trying to rescue his daughter Hyun-seo after she gets kidnapped by the monster.

Contains the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Seoul sewers, especially the one that Hyun-seo is trapped in.
  • Action Girl: Nam-joo, a high-achieving Olympic archer.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The action in the movie is spaced out with scenes of the Park family discussing their relationship with each other while hiding out from the threat and trying to save their youngest member.
  • Adult Fear: Gang-du experiencing his daughter kidnapped by the monster.
    • During the monster's first attack, a mother realizes her son may be one of the people trapped in a trailer the monster is in. She then urges Gang-du and the American soldier to help save him and the other people trapped inside.
  • The Alcoholic: Nam-il, and to an even greater extent, the hobo whom he befriends.
  • Animal Nemesis: Averted, due to Korean Values Dissonance. "If a beast kills a man, then that beast should be torn limb from limb."
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Nam-il, who's the most impatient around Gang-du.
  • Artistic License Physics: If we forget about the problems a creature like that would have to even move outside of water in reality (that's the case of every monster movie, really), much less swinging around using its tail, still, how does a guy with a pole stop a massive, sprinting monster dead in its tracks? Alright, maybe it would have died anyways, but they should logically have both plunged into the water from the monster's momentum, or at least Gang-du would have been sent flying from the shock. In that case, Gang-du got inexplicably super-strong all of a sudden. Maybe it was the brain surgery.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: At least, we think it's a tadpole. It could be a lungfish or something.
  • Anticlimax: Just when Nam-il is dramatically winding up to throw his last Molotov at the monster, it ends up slipping from his hand and breaking on the ground right before he can throw it. Pleasantly averted a few seconds later when Nam-joo shows up, though.
  • Badass Bystander: Donald, the American soldier who emerges from the crowd and tries to fight off the monster during its first rampage. A later new story reveals that he eventually dies of his wounds in hospital. This, however, means he initially survived, despite the last we saw of him being the monster pinning him by the arm, with him stabbing it.
  • Badass Family: The entire Park family. Nam-il gets special mention for dual wielding Molotov cocktails, though.
  • Bilingual Backfire: The American doctor explains in English to the Korean translator that the virus the monster was carrying wasn't real. Unfortunately for them, Gang-du understands a couple of the basic English words and realises what's been going on.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The creature is killed, but at the cost of Hyun-seo's, Hee-bong's, Se-jin's and many other lives. The protagonist, Gang-du ends up taking in the orphan boy Se-joo as his son, and has finally matured.
  • Breakthe Cutie: Gang-du, over and over and over again.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Happens to Se-joo at one point in the movie.
  • Bumbling Dad: Gang-du gives beer to his daughter and can't afford a decent phone for her, but he loves her very much all the same.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Gang-du has had the worst of it. He's never been allowed to do anything useful with his life, his wife left him, his siblings don't respect him, his daughter is abducted by a monster, and nobody believes him when he realizes she's still alive, he's targeted for carrying a virus which turns out not to be real, he's had tissue samples taken from him and a needle rammed into his head, and when you think things don't get any worse for him, his father and his daughter are killed by the monster on separate occasions.
  • Cassandra Truth: Hyun-seo is alive, damn it.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Hyun-seo's cellphone battery is dying, and, being in the sewer, she has no way to recharge it.
  • Chekhov's Gag: When first encountering the creature, Gang-du throws a soda can at it to lure it out. It eats it and the whole crowd joins in and starts throwing food. A little later, the creature is regurgitating dozens of human bodies and skeletons it's been eating. The last item to fall out is Gang-du's soda can.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nam-joo's archery
  • Daylight Horror: Purposefully invoked in the initial attack scene.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The film deliberately evokes the SARS crisis, bird flu, and the Agent Orange bioweapon.
  • Driven to Suicide: Around the beginning, a businessman is jumping off a bridge, and catches a glimpse of the creature just before he jumps.
  • Dumb Blond: Gang-du has bleached blond hair with black roots, to show that he's lazy and not very bright.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Parks. The father, Hee-bong is a single parent who has to work hard to keep his family afloat, sometimes unintentionally having caused Parental Neglect; the eldest son Gang-du is a bit of a dim-bulb and a slight narcoleptic due to protein deficiency as a child, who does a few questionable things like giving his daughter beer; the other son Nam-il is an alcoholic anarchist; and the daughter, Nam-joo, while a high achiever, chokes under pressure.
  • Eagleland: The film's portrayal of America is ultimately ambivalent: while the government is satirized rather viciously and there are one or two evil ones, an American soldier bravely gives his life trying to save a few people from the monster. Word of God says: "It's a stretch to simplify The Host as an anti-American film, but there is certainly a metaphor and political commentary about the U.S." This is probably why North Korea permitted the release of the movie and had good press about it. The sequel is apparently going to target the People's Republic of China, who deny the creature's existence.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Se-joo and Se-jin appear at the beginning. Se-joo tries to steal candy from the stand at the beginning, after Gang-du, who was currently tending it, had fallen asleep on the job yet again, but Se-jin stops him before Hee-bong comes along and drives them both away.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Gang-du's blond highlights are gone by the end of the film and so is the scruffy hairstyle, as a sign of his maturing responsibility as a parent.
  • Eye Scream: The creature's death, which involves being shot directly in the eye with a flaming arrow. Nam-Joo also pulls off an Unflinching Walk in this scene.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Gang-du and younger his sister Nam-joo. Nam-joo is a high-achieving archer, while Gang-du isn't even smart or ambitious enough to do more than work at his father's confectionary stand. Nam-il isn't much better off than Nam-joo, being an alcoholic and former political protester, but even he looks down on Gang-du.
  • Foreshadowing: Early in the film, Hyun-seo complains about her outdated phone. It seems amusing at first, but then later she tries calling Gang-du and her phone is almost out of battery.
    • While in quarantine, Gang-du is told that he shouldn't eat anything until the next morning because he's been affected with the virus. Late that night, he gets hungry and eats some tinned seafood, and nothing happens. This is a hint towards the fact that the virus is a lie.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Nam-il gets a bottle broken on his head by a hobo.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When the monster goes to eat Hyun-seo and Se-joo, it cuts to black while Hyun-seo's scream echoes.
    • During the initial rampage, quite a few people try to hide in a large trailer. The monster then busts into the trailer. All you see are bloody arms scrabbling at the locked door at the other end, and blood seeping through the floor of the trailer.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: When the monster first attacks, we see a girl playing with a bobby pin listening to orchestral music with headphones completely oblivious to the mayhem around her. When someone runs by her, she turns around and gets taken away by the monster.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Gang-du's lack of protein when he was young, due to Parental Abandonment, turned him into something of a narcoleptic. Nam-il gets annoyed with this while the family is sheltering in the gymnasium and starts prodding Gang-du with his foot, but Gang-du doesn't stir.
  • Hobo: One of whom is a Deliberately Cute Child. Seriously, there's a montage of him discussing what kind of food he'd like to eat while generally being adorable.
  • Homage: The idea of a giant monster carrying an even-more-dangerous disease was originally used in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
    • The movie generally plays on ALL the good and bad kaiju movies Godzilla spawned.
  • Idiot Hero: Gang-du. He becomes a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass on occasion though.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Gang-du gets increasingly skilled with a stop sign. He even gets the killshot by impaling it in the mouth with the end of a broken sign.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. But also followed through on during said aversion.
  • The Klutz: Gang-du is always tripping over something. Tragically, it gets his daughter taken by the monster.
  • Man Child: Gang-du is sensitive, immature and impulsive.
  • Mighty Whitey: An American soldier bravely steps up to help people escape the monster and tries to fight it off, getting mauled in the process. This was probably included to soften the anti-American message.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Gang-du's clumsiness and impulsive nature cost him the lives of his daughter and his father. He's so much of a millstone that at one point his siblings consider abandoning him.
  • No Name Given: The hobo that Nam-il befriends' name is never revealed.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The creature is basically just an animal that wants to find shelter and eat. Unfortunately for everyone involved however, its shelter happens to be within a populated city along the Han River and it eats people, a lot of people.
  • Oh Crap!: Early on, a crowd of people, including Gang-du, are chatting at the riverside about the monster. Amidst the chatting crowd, Gang-du suddenly gets a Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises look at something offscreen. Shortly thereafter, we the audience see it too - the Fifty Foot Whatever galloping right at them. Cue the screaming and the running (not that it does anybody any good). He does it again when he realizes that Hyun-seo is entirely alone out in the open, and the monster is galloping right at her.
  • One Bullet Left: Brutally subverted; Gang-du gives a gun to Hee-bong thinking that it has one bullet left. When Hee-bong goes to fire at the monster, all he hears is an empty click. It then cuts to Gang-du counting on his fingers and realizing the mistake he's made as Hee-bong gets killed.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Gang-du's family mourns the loss of Hyun-seo, and won't stop crying!!
    • Also when the creature starts regurgitating all the bodies it's been eating. You wonder how it could hold all that in there.
  • Papa Wolf: Gang-du, although sadly his daughter is dead by then.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hyun-seo's mother left after she was born, and she spends most of the movie trying to reunite with her father. Gang-du himself is a victim of this: his mother also left, and his father (though now very sorry) didn't take very good care of him.
  • Playing Possum: Hyun-seo plays dead among the bodies in the monster's lair whenever it comes back to avoid being killed. Eventually the monster realizes she's just faking and pretends to be asleep when she attempts to escape to lure her out where it can get her.
  • Please Wake Up: Gang-du to Hee-bong after he gets killed by the monster.
  • Plot Armor: The monster has Gang-du dead to rights early in the rampage, but it simply runs over him on the way to other victims. He then repeatedly gets in the monster's way, or simply whacks it with something. He survives entirely unscathed.
  • Plucky Girl: Hyun-seo when she's trapped in the sewer. In captivity she tries numerous times to find ways to escape from the monster.
  • Promotion to Parent: The unbearably cute hobo child is raised by his older brother.
    • Hyun-seo also takes on this role when the little boy is dropped into the sewer with her.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Nam-il keeps pointing the barrel of his shotgun at objects (and people). In one scene, he pointed and thrust the shotgun at Gang-du's head while Gang-du went into one of his narcoleptic timeouts..
  • Say My Name: A small portion of Gang-du's lines are just "HYUN-SEO!" Still, she's his daughter, so he has every right to be screaming her name.
  • Silence Is Golden: Some of the scenes in the movie are completely silent.
    • The scene where the monster first takes Hyun-seo and dives back into the river is completely silent.
    • The scene when Hyun-seo and Se-joo hide from the monster in the sewers, at which point it starts throwing up a huge load of bones.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A lot of scenes that should be dramatic are completely ruined by unfitting orchestral music.
    • The chase scene, for example.
    • The scene where the monster is on fire screeching and trying to run towards water.
  • Stealing from the Till: Gang-du. He's not even very good at it; he takes loose change from the till to try and save up for a new phone for Hyun-seo.
  • The Virus: It turns out that there is no virus and the whole thing was mass hysteria. Unlike in Monster A-Go Go, however, there undeniably was a monster.
  • Tooka Levelin Badass: Gang-du starts attacking the monster with a sign when it first charges out of the water, and he goes into Action Dad territory whenever he gets a chance to try and save his daughter.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In fact, there's a particularly glorifying scene of the monster vomiting a shower of bones.
  • Writer on Board: Although it manages not to derail the plot.
  • You Can Panic Now: The movie is a satirical deconstruction of this. Giant tadpole running around Seoul, eating people? It must be carrying A HIDEOUS NEW DISEASE! Let us completely focus on this possibility, and ignore the fact that it's eating people!

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheHost