A splendid take on class inequalities that force the audience to question who is the parasite, the rich or the poor.

My respect for Bong Joon-Ho is up in the sky, because he and everyone else involved in this movie pretty much knocked it out of the park on multiple fronts. A twist-laden narrative that effortlessly shapeshifts from comedy to drama to thriller with liquid ease. A bonkers, beautiful, radical, and drop-dead intelligent dark satirical tale of social inequality [and the] mock egalitarian weirdness of late capitalism. It is such a clash of different genres and moods that it may as well be considered genreless, and yet it all somehow comes together in such a masterful way that you cannot help but leave the theater in a state of awe. Parasite finds a way to be visually stunning, thematically resonant, horrifyingly tragic and fantastically gripping while fooling the audience into thinking they are having the time of their life. A tragicomic masterclass that will get under your skin and eat away at your cinematic soul.

It’s a career peak for the director, Bong Joon-ho

Song Kang-ho as Kim Ki-taek , the father of the Kim family who is hired as Park Dong-ik’s chauffeur.
Choi Woo-shik as Kim Ki-woo, the son of the Kim family who is hired as Da-hye’s English tutor. Choi Woo-shik stated that the character is intelligent but does not have the vigour needed to succeed in examinations.
Lee Sun-kyun as Park Dong-ik , the father of the Park family.
Cho Yeo-jeong as Choi Yeon-gyo , the mother of the Park family.
Park So-dam as Kim Ki-jung, the daughter of the Kim family who is hired as Da-song’s art therapist.
Lee Jung-eun as Gook Moon-gwang, the housekeeper for the Park family, who also worked for the architect and previous owner of the house.
Jang Hye-jin as Chung-sook , the mother of the Kim family who is hired as the housekeeper for the Park family.
Park Myung-hoon as Oh Geun-sae, Moon-gwang’s husband.

This is what a true masterpiece looks like.

The Kim family—father Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, daughter Ki-jung, and son Ki-woo—live in a small semi-basement apartment (banjiha), have low-paying temporary jobs folding pizza boxes, 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.

When the Parks leave on a camping trip, the Kims revel in the luxuries of the residence before Moon-gwang abruptly appears at the door, telling Chung-sook she left something in the basement. She enters a hidden entrance to an underground bunker created by the architect and previous homeowner, where Moon-gwang’s husband, Geun-sae, has been secretly living for over four years, hiding from loan sharks. Chung-sook refuses Moon-gwang’s pleas to help Geun-sae remain in the bunker, but the eavesdropping Kims accidentally reveal their true identities. Moon-gwang films them on her phone and threatens to expose their ruse to the Parks.

A severe rainstorm brings the Parks home early, and the Kims scramble to clean up the home and subdue Moon-gwang and Geun-sae before they return. The Kims trap Geun-sae and Moon-gwang in the bunker. Mrs Park reveals to Chung-sook that Da-song had a seizure-inducing traumatic experience on a previous birthday, when he saw a “ghost” — actually Geun-sae — emerging from the basement at night. Before the Kims manage to sneak out of the house, they hear Mr Park’s off-handed comments about Ki-taek’s smell. The Kims find their apartment flooded with sewer water and are forced to shelter in a gymnasium with other displaced people.

The next day, Mrs Park hosts a house party for Da-song’s birthday with the Kim family’s help. Ki-woo enters the bunker with the scholar’s rock to find Geun-sae. Finding Moon-gwang has died from a concussion she received during the earlier fight, he is attacked by Geun-sae, who bludgeons his head with the rock and escapes, leaving Ki-woo lying in a pool of blood in the basement. Seeking to avenge Moon-gwang, Geun-sae stabs Ki-jung with a kitchen knife in front of the horrified party guests. Da-song suffers another seizure upon seeing Geun-sae, and a struggle breaks out until Chung-sook fatally impales Geun-sae with a barbecue skewer. While Ki-taek tends to a severely bleeding Ki-jung, Mr Park orders Ki-taek to drive Da-song to the hospital. In the chaos, Ki-taek, upon seeing Mr Park’s disgusted reaction to Geun-sae’s smell, angrily takes the knife and kills him. Ki-taek then flees the scene, leaving the rest of the Kim family behind.

Weeks later, Ki-woo is recovering from brain surgery. He and Chung-sook are convicted of fraud and put on probation. Ki-jung has died and Ki-taek, wanted by the police for Mr Park’s murder, cannot be found. Geun-sae has been assumed to be an insane homeless man, and neither his nor Ki-taek’s motive for the stabbings are known. Ki-woo spies on the Parks’ home, now occupied by a German family unaware of its history, and sees a message in Morse code from a flickering light. Ki-taek, who escaped into the bunker via the garage, has buried Moon-gwang in the backyard and now raids the kitchen at night and sends the message every day, hoping Ki-woo will see it. Still living in their original basement apartment with his mother, Ki-woo writes a letter to Ki-taek, vowing to earn enough money to one day purchase the house and reunite with his father.

Movie Information

Release date: May 30, 2019 (South Korea)
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Box office: $259 million
Budget: ₩17.0 billion; (~US$15.5 million)
Production company: Barunson E&A
Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture, Palme d’Or, MORE

Peter Ahn

Peter Ahn

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