The Kim family lives in a rundown basement apartment in South Korea. Their home is infested with bugs, they constantly see drunks urinating on the street from their front window, and are always desperately trying to leach free WiFi off their upstairs neighbors or nearby businesses. Patriarch Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) and his wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin) are currently out of work, taking on odd jobs, such as folding pizza boxes for a nearby pizzeria, to make some money. They can’t even afford to pay for school for their daughter Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) or son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik). However, the Kim family always manages to get by. They are a resourceful family of grifters and con-artists, who work like a well-oiled machine, utilizing the unique set of skills they’ve honed over the years. Ki-woo is bright, often coming up with the scripts for their plans, while Ki-jeong is a talented artist. Her father marvels that “if Oxford had a degree in forgery, she’d be top of her class”.
Just as the family is wondering how they are going to make ends meet, a potentially-lucrative situation falls in their laps. Ki-woo’s friend Min (Park Seo-joon) is about to leave to study abroad. However, he has been tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family, and suggests that Ki-woo take over for him. Min informs his friend that the matriarch of the Park family, Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong), is a bit dim and easy to fool. She is obsessed with her children—high school sophomore Da-hye (Jeong Ji-so) and her wild, aspiring artist younger brother Da-song (Jung Hyeon-jun)—and would do anything for them. Her husband Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun) is a multi-millionaire tech inventor, and the couple have a loyal live-in housekeeper (Lee Jung-eun) and chauffeur (Park Geun-rok).
And so, with some forged credentials Ki-woo soon becomes the new tutor. And one-by-one, the rest of the Kim family manage to con their way into the Park family mansion and onto their payroll, with little regard for whomever gets in the way of their goal. However, just as the Kims start living up the high life, their world comes crashing down.
Parasite has been nominated for six Academy Awards—including Best Picture, Best International Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Production Design and Best Editing—and I could easily understand it winning any or all of these. It is thoroughly-entertaining and captivating from start to finish. I generally don’t like having to read subtitles, but I found myself so engrossed in the film that I forgot that I was reading.
Over the course of the film, Parasite makes several shifts in tone and takes some unexpected turns. While it starts off as more of a comedic heist, things take a darker, more dramatic and thrilling turn halfway through, sending the film off in an exciting and unexpected new direction. Parasite takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride of emotions as it explores the class differences and symbiotic relationship that forms between the Kims and the Parks. It also shows how people’s true nature comes out when they either let their guards down or are put in a tough circumstance. It is such a cleverly-written story about love, family, and manipulation that will have you want to re-watch it over and over. This was my second time watching the film, and I already want to check it out again.
The main set piece of the movie is the Park’s unique mansion of a home, which is as architecturally unique as it is beautiful. The film is stunningly shot, with each scene feeling like a piece of art. Universal’s Blu-ray release does an excellent job of capturing all this beauty with a nearly-flawless, detailed picture, and stunning colors. The film also sounds excellent—the audio track provides an immersive ambiance, making use of the stereo and surround channels to bring the atmosphere to life, as well as showcase the film’s perfect operatic score.
The Blu-ray release comes packed in standard HD keepcase with a slipcover, and contains an insert with a code to redeem for an HD Movies Anywhere-compatible digital copy of the film. The minimal bonus material consists of an interesting 19-minute Q&A panel with the director, and two trailers.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH
- HD digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere
Digital (for redemption deadline, see NBCUcodes.com):
- Fantastic Fest 2019 Q&A with Director Bong Joon Ho (19:03)
Director Bong Joon Ho takes the Fantastic Fest 2019 stage to answer questions (via a translator) from the audience, pointing out some things to look for in the movie, and providing some nice insight into the themes of the film, the design of the sets, and more.
- Trailer #1 (2:22)
- Trailer #2 (2:03)
Parasite is a masterpiece of a film that is both stunning to look at but also cleverly-written, and starring a delightful cast that makes it all come together perfectly. This is one film I wouldn’t mind seeing sweep the Oscars, and I think all of its nominations are well-deserved. Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great, but unfortunately just includes one 19-minute Q&A (though the director does provide some interesting answers). The Blu-ray comes highly recommended based on the overwhelming quality of the film itself.