Bong Joon-ho

"Of all the filmmakers out there in the last 20 years, he has something that 1970s Spielberg has. There is this level of entertainment and comedy in his films. The Host and Memories of Murder are both masterpieces… great in their own way." - Quentin Tarantino (The Hollywood Reporter, 2013)

Bong Joon-ho

Director / Screenwriter
(1969- ) Born September 14, Daegu, South Korea
21st Century's Top 100 Directors

Key Production Country: South Korea
Key Genres: Drama, Science Fiction, Sci-Fi Horror, Monster Film, Crime Drama, Black Comedy
Key Collaborators: Song Kang-ho (Leading Actor), Ryu Seong-hie (Production Designer), Park Hae-il (Leading Actor), Bae Doona (Leading Actress), Hong Kyung-pyo (Cinematographer), Kim Hyung-ku (Cinematographer), Kim Sun-min (Editor), Byeon Hie-bong (Leading Character Actor), Kim Roe-ha (Leading Character Actor), Lee Byung-woo (Composer), Ko Ah-sung (Character Actress)

“Bong’s artistry goes far beyond genre-flick chops, absent the kind of tony aestheticism that Park Chan-wook lavishes on his perfumed depravities (and this despite some comparably uncomfortable violent/sexual subject matter in Memories of Murder and Mother). The question now is what else he can do with it. Bong is better than genre precisely because he remains humbly within it; and while all filmmakers are confined to their own interests and inclinations, the well goes dry on the genre boys at far greater speed. With Bong’s upcoming jump to high-profile, English-language international co-productions, it will be interesting to see whether he can grow further, or whether his talents will yield little more than impeccably made, intermittently rousing dead ends.” - Andrew Tracy (Cinema Scope, 2012)
“Bong Joon-Ho has proved to be one of the most interesting directors working in Asian cinema today, a filmmaker who has a playful approach to genre, and is unashamedly enthralled by Hollywood mechanics… In reviving and intermingling tired, moribund genre tropes to imaginative effect (such as the crime picture, melodrama, horror and science fiction), the films of Boon Joon-Ho offer a unique perspective, engaging in a wry social commentary on Korean family dynamics (often featuring the struggles of a lower or middle class protagonist), politics and society.” - Erdinch Yigitce (The Culture Trip)
“The gripping films of Korean enfant terrible Bong Joon-ho offer engaging and intense reinventions of popular genres that are animated by a flair for dramatically cinematic storytelling and sharp yet subtle commentary on the historical and political complexities of present-day Korean society. Bong’s interest in filmmaking evolved from his love of American cinema, in particular his admiration for those directors, from John Frankenheimer to David Lynch, who bend genre convention to their own particular ends. Equally important to Bong’s cinema, however, was his later discovery of two master Japanese filmmakers who exerted a profound influence upon his work - Shohei Imamura and Kiyoshi Kurosawa, two very different artists whose meticulously constructed narrative films are nevertheless similarly invested in oblique, often beautifully cryptic, commentaries upon contemporary society.” - Harvard Film Archive, 2010
“The moral and emotional struggles of ordinary Koreans faced with bizarre social dilemmas are a thematic mainstay in Bong’s films. In his Barking Dogs Never Bite, a resident of an apartment complex commits animal abuse as a way of acting out against the banal demands of his life, while another resident tries to solve the animal murder as a way of breaking out of her own humdrum routine. In Memories of Murder, a city detective is appalled by the brutal practices of his rural counterpart in tracking a serial killer, only to become more desperate as each new corpse surfaces. Bong’s concern for the moral destinies and dysfunction of his characters, combined with a trenchant, often bitingly funny view of everyday Korean life, gives his films a realist flavor distinguishable from his more visually extravagant countryman, Park Chan-wook.” - Kevin B. Lee (Cineaste, 2006)
“With my films, sometimes people don’t know whether to laugh or whether it’s a serious scene, and they’ll ask me: “Was it supposed to be funny?” It’s awkward for the audience, though a lot of people do like that about the films. It’s often hard for the marketing team to figure out how to market the film. But it’s inevitable, it’s my tendency, and I feel bad for the people trying to help my film. But I don’t think it’ll change anytime soon.” - Bong Joon-ho (Film Comment, 2014)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Memories of Murder (2003)
Worth a Look
Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), Mother (2009) , The Host (2006)
Approach with Caution
Tokyo! (2008) [also directed by Leos Carax & Michel Gondry], Snowpiercer (2013)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Bong Joon-ho / Favourite Films
See Bong Joon-ho's 50 favourite films at La Cinetek.
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Mother
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