In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be lost on anyone that Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” (Neon/Universal), now available on Blu-ray, as well as on Hulu, won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture (a first for a non-English language film), while a parasite such as Donald Trump was POTUS.
Trump saw fit to criticize “Parasite”’s win even though he probably never saw it because, well, it has subtitles and he’s illiterate.
Class struggle and social commentary are nothing new to Bong (see 2013’s “Snowpiercer” and 2006’s “The Host”), but with “Parasite”, he takes the subject to new heights, both hilarious and horrifying. Ki Woo (Woo-sik Choi), his sister Ki Jung (So-dam Park), and their parents Ki Taek (Kang-ho Song) and Chung Sook (Hye-jin Jang) are unemployed sub-basement apartment dwellers in Seoul. The kinds of people living on the fringes who piggyback on others’ wi-fi and take menial jobs such as folding pizza boxes as a group.
Their lack of good fortune changes when Min (Seo-joon Park), a friend of Ki Woo’s, not only brings them a good luck charm – a “scholar’s rock” – he also makes Ki Woo a profitable proposition. While Min is studying abroad, he wants Ki Woo to take over his tutoring job for a wealthy family, led by businessman Nathan Park (Sun-kyun Lee). The idea is that Ki Woo is trustworthy and won’t make a move on high school student Da Hye (Ji-so Jung). Following an interview with the girl’s “simple” mother Yeon Kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo), and some creative artwork by Ki Jung (who creates a fake diploma for Ki Woo), he gets the job.
Ki Woo, who, as it turns out, can’t resist Da Hye, and has been christened Kevin by Yeon Kyo, sees other opportunities for his family in the Park household. Da Hye’s coddled and uncontrollable younger brother Da Song (Hyun-jun Jung), said to be suffering from a traumatic childhood experience, gets tutored by Ki Jung, who goes by the American moniker Jessica. The siblings arrange to have the family’s driver fired so their father can get the gig. The most challenging obstacle is longtime housekeeper Moon Gwang (Jeong-eun Lee), who actually came with the house (she was on staff for the architect and previous owner). But soon she is disposed of in an insidious way, and Chung Sook comes on board as the new housekeeper.
For a while, things go along smoothly, and the laughs are plentiful. But all good things, especially those derived by evil means, must come to an end, and when they do, it’s best to hold on to your seats. Moon Gwang, as it turns out, has been hiding her husband away in the house’s secret bunker for more than four years (keeping him safe from loan sharks who have come to collect). Moon Gwang, who is shrewder than she appears, gets wind of the fact that the new crew is a family of charlatans, leading to a terrifying confrontation.
But that’s nothing compared to what happens when Da Song’s parents, determined to give him an extra special birthday party, come face-to face with pure evil. The cataclysmic bloodbath, a sudden and grisly rampage, in an otherwise peaceful upper-class backyard, is not something you will soon forget. Equally entertaining and mind-blowing, “Parasite” deserves every accolade it received. The lone Blu-ray bonus feature is a Q&A with the director.