Five Favorite Films

Parasite Star Song Kang-ho's Five Favorite Films

The celebrated South Korean actor shares his love for Steve McQueen and stories told from unconventional perspectives.

by | October 22, 2019 | Comments

Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images)

It’s a shame Song Kang-ho isn’t better known to international audiences, because he has been quietly dominating South Korean cinema for the past couple decades and change. Though he never underwent any professional training as an actor, he clearly possessed the kind of singular talent required to move seamlessly between genres, and he found willing partners in some of the most gifted directors to come out of Korea. This led to fruitful partnerships with people like Lee Chang-dong (Green FishSecret Sunshine), Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr. VengeanceJoint Security AreaThirst), and Kim Jee-woon (The Foul KingThe Good, the Bad, the WeirdAge of Shadows), but his work with one Bong Joon-ho may be his best known and most significant.

It was Bong’s 2007 creature feature The Host that propelled both him and Song into the international spotlight, and when they later reunited for Bong’s English-language debut, 2014’s Snowpiercer, the film was widely hailed as a brilliant, ambitious dystopian vision — this is nothing to say of their very first film together, 2003’s serial killer mystery Memories of Murder, which is a decidedly smaller film, but an equally compelling and masterfully told story. To be clear, all three of those movies are Certified Fresh at 90% on the Tomatometer or higher, but it’s their latest collaboration that has people talking about the Oscars.

In Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Song Kang-ho plays the patriarch of a family of con artists who bamboozle their way into a wealthy household by providing needed services; everything goes according to plan until, of course, it doesn’t. To say the film has earned rave reviews is an understatement, as it earned the Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or by a unanimous vote, and many predict the darkly comedic social satire will win a host of other awards en route to the Oscars. We chatted with Song Kang-ho ahead of Parasite‘s release, and speaking through a translator, Song gave us his Five Favorite Films, revealing a dry sense of humor in the process: “I didn’t really have time to think about what my favorite movies are. I guess I’ve been busy.”

Son of Saul (2015) 96%

If you ask me about my cinematic preferences, a few years ago, there was a Hungarian film called Son of Saul. It’s a bit of a dark story, but I remember being impressed by that film. I think the filming technique expresses the message of the film very accurately and very effectively.

Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%

Since I picked a movie that’s not one of mine, let me pick one of mine for my second choice. There’s this movie called Parasite. [laughs] A lot of people seem to like that movie; I think I agree with them.

Secret Sunshine (2010) 94%

I’ll pick another one of my movies. It’s directed by Lee Chang-dong and it’s called Secret Sunshine. The matter of saving humanity — human salvation — that narrative was not told from a religious perspective. It was shown through humanity, the world where we live currently, through other humans. So I think the movie showed how we as people can truly be saved.

Oldboy (2005) 82%

I didn’t appear in the movie, but Oldboy, directed by Park Chan-wook. That’s one of my favorites. The movie’s narrative talks about human desires that are taboo — you’re not supposed to talk about them. You think about them, but you’re not supposed to think about them. The movie tells these forbidden stories with daring, experimentally and artistically, and it tells them very well.

Papillon (1973) 80%

This is an old movie, and though he’s not with us any more, I really love the actor Steve McQueen. This movie, Papillon, I would call it his signature movie. The reason it’s one of my favorites is simple: it’s a Steve McQueen movie. He appears in it. I don’t think I need to say any more than that. [laughs] Of course, I like Bullitt, I like them all, but if I have to pick one, Papillon is my favorite Steve McQueen movie.

Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: You’ve been able to work with some incredible directors even from the very beginning of your film career. How have you been so good at choosing who to work with?

Song Kang-ho: To be more accurate, it’s not that I’m choosing to work with them. They chose me. They have chosen me.

Does working with each of them — from Lee Chang-dong to Park Chan-wook to Bong Joon-ho — bring something different out of you?

They’re all different. Everyone’s different. I find all the differences among them exciting, and I respect that. I respect all their differences.

What is it that Bong Joon-ho specifically brings out of you?

Something weird! [laughs]

Thumbnail image: ©Sony Pictures Classics, NEON, ©Cinema Service, Tartan Films

Parasite is currently playing in select theaters.

Tag Cloud

unscripted San Diego Comic-Con strong female leads period drama Adult Swim comic Oscars SXSW spanish language cancelled television award winner USA Network Chernobyl Awards Tour Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 20th Century Fox diversity Mary Tyler Moore Sneak Peek The Purge Winners Emmy Nominations E3 2016 El Rey Logo what to watch Trivia MSNBC dragons Comedy Central Christmas Spike miniseries toy story Cannes independent Family Drama natural history Superheroes serial killer Bravo Lifetime Mindy Kaling PaleyFest National Geographic theme song Trophy Talk Sony Pictures mockumentary Mystery Red Carpet Food Network FX Character Guide Nominations crime drama Set visit facebook Epix American Society of Cinematographers 2015 richard e. Grant Classic Film Biopics ESPN Holiday Arrowverse medical drama TruTV festivals Western DC Comics Awards USA Music FOX Showtime aliens sports binge DC Universe Turner Classic Movies cats TV Land versus WarnerMedia WGN TV renewals Pride Month DC streaming service robots X-Men Television Academy Emmys cars Toys SundanceTV Academy Awards Valentine's Day CNN Comedy OneApp TBS Columbia Pictures Hallmark reboot GLAAD romantic comedy crossover hist MTV true crime Marathons Avengers Martial Arts Marvel Television war BBC America children's TV Heroines halloween doctor who The Arrangement Tubi adventure cults FXX The CW Rock Grammys stand-up comedy CBS All Access Sundance TV Rom-Com social media 2017 Reality Shudder Paramount Network AMC book Election Watching Series revenge RT History YA Action space Black Mirror MCU CBS vampires DirecTV Trailer Nickelodeon indie Teen slashers TCA cancelled elevated horror YouTube Premium Country composers Syfy police drama Animation Musicals PBS blaxploitation Spring TV docudrama television Starz Tomatazos Masterpiece TLC ABC Family Tarantino finale Video Games Creative Arts Emmys Brie Larson Rocky Binge Guide crime thriller comics YouTube witnail kids Women's History Month TCA Winter 2020 Star Trek Spectrum Originals Hallmark Christmas movies biography LGBT Photos canceled TV shows political drama TNT Apple TV+ TIFF Comics on TV OWN rotten movies we love blockbuster Pop comiccon Ellie Kemper transformers ITV Stephen King Fall TV Turner teaser latino Discovery Channel disaster Extras video Calendar free movies TCM spinoff Mary poppins Pet Sematary werewolf cancelled TV shows batman Walt Disney Pictures HBO LGBTQ boxoffice Sci-Fi Crackle CW Seed justice league Tumblr Amazon Britbox Nat Geo TCA 2017 dc SDCC game show psychological thriller Acorn TV streaming Holidays BET Quiz Shondaland cooking 24 frames Polls and Games The Witch golden globes Ovation Sundance Cosplay Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ghosts Elton John spider-man harry potter First Reviews Paramount zombies Universal History Crunchyroll movies tv talk Certified Fresh Superheroe Musical Horror Fantasy Star Wars GoT Esquire Fox News Mudbound Amazon Prime A24 ABC psycho Apple anime spain HBO Max anthology GIFs Pirates breaking bad technology The Walking Dead Netflix crime Thanksgiving Peacock See It Skip It Pixar Comic Book Marvel 71st Emmy Awards hispanic politics VICE Reality Competition Disney+ Disney Plus RT21 Writers Guild of America spy thriller Disney Plus Disney IFC Lifetime Christmas movies historical drama name the review discovery dramedy Apple TV Plus 2020 game of thrones based on movie sag awards Cartoon Network Schedule 2019 Netflix Christmas movies series Infographic Ghostbusters quibi Film Festival NYCC ratings screen actors guild Hulu Premiere Dates Film talk show Song of Ice and Fire Rocketman Captain marvel cops Summer TV sequel 21st Century Fox Disney Channel Podcast NBC renewed TV shows Disney streaming service 007 45 Anna Paquin YouTube Red President Lucasfilm cancelled TV series dceu Interview jamie lee curtis Dark Horse Comics New York Comic Con CMT sitcom Opinion Kids & Family mutant IFC Films Freeform Box Office Endgame Baby Yoda Super Bowl travel foreign Sundance Now Countdown APB nature thriller adaptation south america directors animated Lionsgate cartoon singing competition Winter TV joker Marvel Studios A&E casting science fiction zombie romance Mary Poppins Returns Amazon Prime Video zero dark thirty screenings Year in Review Warner Bros. VH1 canceled DGA supernatural BBC Vudu Best and Worst First Look E! 2018 green book cinemax christmas movies