yes, the rumors are true. not all asians are crazy rich. – a PARASITE review

By now, you’ve probably heard of PARASITE because of the multiple standing ovations heard ’round the world. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re probably thinking, ‘Wow, maybe, I should watch this movie. It won a couple of Oscars after all.’ And if you have already seen it, (and you’re Asian) you’re likely thinking, ‘I should definitely watch it again.’ The number one mistake you’ll make coming in to see this the first time is that, you think you’re ready to watch this movie. But the truth is…you. are. not. ready. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Minor spoilers throughout.

 

There’s no need for a plan. You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything. It doesn’t matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?

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Not all Asians are Crazy Rich: Song Kang-ho and Jang Hye-jin are the heads of the Kim family who are faced with terrible financial woes and poverty from the start of the film.

 

host or parasite?

Back in the Fall, almost every single Asian film critic, entertainment reporter and reviewer on Twitter from Variety, The Los Angeles Times, to The Hollywood Reporter were raving about Parasite this and Parasite that. It took a while to make rounds in local cinemas until San Diego International Film Fest finally happened.

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Cho Yeo-jeong’s Mrs. Park is labeled as a “simple” woman.

And as it turns out…it is a masterpiece in its own right, after all.

As someone who also comes from an Asian country that upholds a social class divide well into present-day, I definitely appreciated director Bong Joon-ho’s conscious choice to highlight that this too, is a  problem in South Korea.

Pause for a second and realize that South Korea is a first-world Asian country. They have their own standards of beauty. Their high test scores. Their K-pop. All under their high standards of excellence.

Vast social class discrepancies are real and they too, exist in Asia to this day and even…in a first-world country *gasp*. PARASITE – in all its bravery and in everything it stands for deserves all the awards just for unveiling that fact Stateside to American audiences who may otherwise not be aware of the (Asian) status quos. Now, acknowledging this in a feature-length social commentary of a film coming directly from one of the most successful first-world Asian countries to begin with? Even more iconic. Legendary, really.


 

IMG_7549
when parasite said the rich can afford to be kind, when parasite said global warning is most catastrophic for those least responsible, when parasite the rich are the ones with access to sunlight, when parasite said the efforts of the working class are invisible to their exploiters, when parasite said water only ever flows from the rich down to the poor and never in reverse, when parasite said the rich are real parasites for leeching off their workers’ labour | (credit) pharahsgf via tumblr

 


But PARASITE’s biggest win, I think, can be attributed to it being an enigma. Its mysterious factor as a film and unpredictability althroughout and within its plot was its strongest appeal.
Those who wouldn’t normally go out of their way to see an indie movie (and a foreign language one at that) likely saw it out of curiosity simply because the trailers never really gave anything away. Yet everyone was talking about it. All the showings were and are still packed. You didn’t know what you were getting into. You weren’t being preached at. Until it was too late. You’re already hooked. You probably got enlightened by accident. You, maybe, even learned something new.

Wicked genius right?

 

do unto Others

parasite-respect
Lee Jung-eun and Park Myung-hoon are a couple with their own agendas

The other side of PARASITE’ is a message about having – and missing – the opportunity to help people who are not as well-off as you (and not just financially). I would go as far as to say that it’s a cautionary tale of lending a helping a hand and what happens when you do and, well, when you don’t.

Labeled as a “dark comedy” (and it is) …until it isn’t – PARASITE will crawl under your skin (pun intended).

It will probably remind you of another film (another Best of 2019) that was just as goosebump-inducing and mind-bending, but if I was to name it to you, I’d be spoiling PARASITE (hint: it involves flower crowns and a lot of sunshine but make it horror).

a magnum opus

parasite-kevin
Choi Woo-shik is the eldest of the Kim’s children

In 2018, American audiences were taught that Asians are “crazy rich.” In 2019, we came full circle when Bong Joon-ho showed us the Other Side. In challenging the status quo, he singlehandedly saved the film industry Hollywood – in twenty-twenty and that’s what makes this the superior film to come out of 2019.

Speaking as a self-proclaimed film junkie, PARASITE is probably one of the best films I have ever seen and I have seen plenty (ballpark 1000+. oof.) so that’s saying something. But you don’t have to take it from me; take it from the Actors of the Guild themselves and their standing ovation. 😃👍🏼

I would say that it does, however, opt for an Asian ending; or maybe I’ve just seen enough Asian soaps growing up to know that That Ending would happen. It also has some Black Mirror vibes for sure. So basically, a creepy ending to the nth level.

Maybe I’m biased. Maybe I’m just born with it Asian. For what it’s done for The Culture, visibility of Asian peeps on-screen, and raising awareness about relevant but often unspoken social issues – PARASITE really is the Best of 2019. Maybe one of the best of the decade, or even of All Time.

 

Bong-hive, rise!

RESPECT.

 

 

 

last edited: 11:00 pm | 13 Feb 2020

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