Film Title: Parasite
Release Date: 2019
Runtime: 132 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Audio Formats: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 2.39:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 1/28/20
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Woo-sik Choi, Hye-jin Jang, So-dam Park, Yeo-jeong Jo, Sun-kyun Lee, Ji-so Jung, Seo-joon Park, Jeong-eun Lee
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Parasite” (also known by its original name “Gisaengchung”) was a 2019 South Korean film co-written and directed by Bong Joon Ho. Ho is best known for writing & directing other successful South Korean films like “The Host” (2006), “Mother” (2009), “Snowpiercer” (2013), and “Okja” (2017). To first give you an idea of what type of movie this is, it falls under the genres of comedy, crime, and drama. That said, I’m not going to get too much into detail here regarding the film’s plot and story, so don’t worry.
During its theatrical run, this film received a large amount of critical acclaim and as a result of that, at the time of writing, this carries an impressive 99% rating and has been deemed “Certified Fresh” over at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s already received its share of award nominations, wins, and is also nominated for a total of 6 Academy Awards (Oscars) – including “Best Picture”.
The story here is one that focuses on the separation of economic class in South Korea as told primarily from the perspective of one family that is on the shorter end of the stick so-to-speak. The Kim family are all four unemployed and struggling to get by, living together in a tiny apartment and doing anything they can to put food on the table. Our protagonist is the son of the family, “Ki-woo Kim” (Choi Woo Shik), who thinks that he’s the brains of the operation. Ki-woo as we first meet him is trying to get on WiFi unsuccessfully as he informs the family. They no longer can use their neighbor’s WiFi because the password has changed and they’ve all had their cellphones’ services cut off. Something as simple as this is a great example of how this family lives, in tiny cramped living quarters and focusing on their phone services only for the reason of the potential of getting some form of income. Let’s face it, this opening bit is something that even American families can certainly relate to.
The father of the Kim family, “Ki-taek” (Song Kang Ho), does his best to provide for his wife “Chung-sook” (Chang Hyae Jin), daughter “Ki-jung” (Park So Dam), and Ki-woo by usually coming up with a plan. The father also, although accused of being lazy, believes himself to somewhat be the brains of the operation – as the head of the household. One day the family is sitting around and Ki-woo receives a visit from his friend with a rather unusual gift – a rock. The rock given as the gift was said to be something that is believed to bring wealth, isn’t the only thing that Ki-woo gets from his friend. His friend offers him the opportunity to take over a job as tutor (in English) for a teen girl from a very wealthy family. This is how the Kim family will meet the polar opposite Park family.
I really just cannot bring it to myself to try to further describe this film to you, without the fear of in someway spoiling some part of it. That being said, I absolutely enjoyed this and it certainly is one amazing film. It’s also very unique, with a dark sense of comedy and deep down some true heart, and is a certain cinematic achievement up there with the major motion pictures made in Hollywood. There is no wonder that this film is nominated for the six Academy Awards because it really is that good.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Parasite” (2019) on its debut to Blu-ray is presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown during its theatrical run. This comes on a BD-50 (50 gigabytes dual-layered) Blu-ray Disc. To get rather a bit technical for a moment here, the film itself is using 29.1 gigabytes itself out of the 34.52 GB total used entirely on the disc.
This was shot digitally in 6.5K resolution using the Arri Alexa 65 camera and it received a 4K digital intermediate master. Despite that, the movie (on physical home video) only received a Blu-ray release and not a 4K UHD Blu-ray. It is certainly worth noting that oddly enough though the multiple Academy Award-nominated film is actually available in 4K with HDR10 but only digitally (it seems) as an exclusive on Vudu. Sadly, I hate to report, the digital copy that you get to redeem here (even on Vudu) is actually only in 1080p HD.
With all of that out of the way let’s focus on how this looks in high definition, coming from its higher resolution source. The black level is perfectly solid here, the color palette can go from being subdued and looking drab at the home of the “Kim” family and then bright and beautiful at the “Park” family’s home. Fleshtones are accurate and there is a tremendous amount of detail to be found here especially in facial close-ups. Detail also stands out in some of the breathtaking cinematography. There are no imperfections to be found here visually and “Parasite” on Blu-ray manages to deliver a very impressive presentation worthy of a 4.75 rating for video quality. I want to end this by saying that I do hope someday this film gets a physical 4K release.
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
Audio here, on the Blu-ray of Parasite (2019), is presented in Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound – with a DTS 5.1 core for those not capable of fully decoding the audio format. Obviously, English subtitles are included. In fact, that’s actually the only language choice here for subtitles, which proves to be a tad bit odd considering you’d think they would have included at least French and Spanish subtitles as well for North America?
It also strikes me a tad bit odd that this only received a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix on Blu-ray, considering that IMDb states that Dolby Atmos was the sound format the film was shown in during its theatrical run. I guess someday we can look forward to that on a 4K UHD Blu-ray? Complaining and daydreaming aside, this sounds great as it is here in the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix.
The film, as dialogue-driven as it may be, does have its share of music and sound effects throughout which get nice placement in the 5.1 surround sound, with very nice rear channel presence, pans left to right for dialogue exchanges between the Kim family, and a subtle but effective amount of bass represented via primarily the subwoofer. Let’s face it here, the majority of us (that don’t speak Korean) aren’t going to understand the dialogue when heard here in the sound mix but it’s absolutely key that it be delivered in a very distinct manner – not missing a beat with what you’re seeing happen and reading of the dialogue (via subtitles). This achieves that on a level that will keep you captivated all throughout your viewing/listening experience.
This all said, in the grand scheme of things here Parasite on Blu-ray proves to be one very impressive film in terms of its 5.1 lossless mix and does the film as much justice as one can possibly expect. This earns itself a very nice 4.5 rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, are presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo – unless otherwise noted below.
A Digital Copy of the film is included which is redeemable via Movies Anywhere, so you’ll be able to get it on a service such as iTunes, Vudu, and such. However, once you do redeem it, it is presented in HD (1080p) the same as here on the Blu-ray Disc. That seems a tad bit odd, considering the film is available in 4K on Vudu for purchase? I just felt that it was worth mentioning to the consumer. This also includes the same extras as listed below via iTunes Extras for example.
There is only one extra included on the Blu-ray Disc and it is:
- “Q&A with Bong Joon Ho” (19:02 – HD) was recorded at the “Fantastic Fest” 2019 that took place in Austin, TX. The moderator asks the film’s director a few questions about the film, then Bong Jong Ho replies in Korean which is then given as a response from his translator. Next, audience members from the festival get the chance to ask the director questions and things work the same regarding the answers. This proves to be very informative and is a must-watch for anyone who enjoyed the film.
- Trailers (4:20 – HD) features two different trailers for the film.
Overall, this has a brief amount of extras and that’s pretty undeniable here. You only get a 19-minute Q&A with the film’s director from a 2019 film festival and a high definition digital copy of the film on all platforms (via MoviesAnywhere). It’s not a whole lot but it is enough to at least merit a semi-decent score for extras.
Bonus Materials Rating: 1.5 (out of 5)
“Parasite” (2019) is one absolutely dark comedy meets tragedy masterpiece of a film from the beginning to the end – clocking in at just a little over two hours in length. In fact, it was just five minutes into the film that I was already sure this was going to be a great film, as I was later happy to be right, as well happy that all the critics were right, and that this film was truly worth all of the hype (acclaim). It is somewhat rare that a foreign language film comes along that can capture the attention of audiences worldwide, in turn breaking the language barrier by connecting. It’s truly wonderful to see more foreign films starting to get this much appreciation.
The observation here of how economic classic for those in South Korea can create levels of separation between the people that inhabit the same space. There are those that are down on their luck, unemployed, and that struggle to get by doing whatever it takes and there are the wealthy, living behind safety. These are polar opposites represented here in the story by these two families and it’s something to really leave you thinking about, long after the credits roll. The pursuit of happiness or more specifically trying to achieve wealth is something that most people from capitalist-type cultures can relate to and that’s what makes this film work so well, in my opinion, with American audiences. People are always willing to do unthinkable acts to try to make their way to the top, in terms of levels (again as a bit of a metaphor).
I really cannot go into further detail about this film to avoid dishing out any “spoilers” so I’ll just leave it at this film is one of my top-five favorite films of last year (2019). It’s great to see it nominated for the 6 Oscars, as well as it now on home video and continuing to be accepted equally as positively by both critics and viewers.
The video presentation here is very impressive in terms of quality, and that’s because this was shot digitally in a much higher resolution (6.5K) and then mastered at 4K before being downconverted to 1080p here in HD (high definition). Visually, this is a crisp film with a large amount of detail to be found as well as some beautiful cinematography. In terms of sound quality, this actually has a rather impressive lossless 5.1 surround mix that manages to make some pretty nice use of the rear channels and will give your subwoofer some action as well. Lastly, and sadly least, the bonus materials here are a bit way too short but they still manage to be worthwhile. I’ll conclude by saying that I find this to be one Highly Recommended Blu-ray.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
1.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials