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) 81%

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

Marvel Studios Rom-Com Disney+ Disney Plus Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Amazon Prime Video Summer dramedy TIFF Countdown quibi serial killer cartoon psycho what to watch Music Turner Classic Movies Disney Channel Year in Review social media dragons politics cancelled TV series NBC cancelled television USA indie Sundance TV Adult Swim hispanic Anna Paquin TBS Freeform Ovation binge First Look Hear Us Out space asian-american die hard criterion Apple 24 frames Superheroe Star Trek spider-man historical drama strong female leads NYCC ABC Family Awards mockumentary The Purge Video Games GoT Apple TV+ TV Land blockbuster tv talk The CW cancelled TV shows Shondaland Film Television Academy renewed TV shows Comedy Election National Geographic comic President Nickelodeon zombie Netflix Christmas movies LGBTQ Writers Guild of America werewolf franchise Bravo natural history Esquire CNN CBS All Access Kids & Family dark 71st Emmy Awards TNT Nat Geo cinemax zombies First Reviews Paramount Network Fantasy Stephen King Hallmark CBS Apple TV Plus chucky Winners GLAAD Women's History Month Crunchyroll name the review 20th Century Fox BET latino finale Masterpiece Pixar joker Calendar directors supernatural discovery 21st Century Fox Brie Larson sequel Mindy Kaling X-Men USA Network Heroines diversity free movies witnail Comic Book Winter TV game show Disney Plus crime thriller Ghostbusters science fiction CMT cats disaster Amazon medical drama Sundance Now cars Tomatazos Teen Lifetime Trailer Biopics Spike Emmy Nominations green book Avengers Lifetime Christmas movies canceled TV shows Premiere Dates Best and Worst TCA GIFs reviews FX Marathons animated parents Universal Mary poppins APB doctor who Watching Series romantic comedy The Arrangement kids Mary Poppins Returns Hallmark Christmas movies Crackle mission: impossible dogs screenings TCA Winter 2020 CW Seed thriller Rocky Marvel Television DGA Photos Sci-Fi Pirates streaming harry potter scary movies Sneak Peek ESPN Binge Guide HBO Max Film Festival casting theme song SundanceTV 2016 Endgame south america Tubi Schedule See It Skip It a nightmare on elm street Reality PBS golden globes video Disney psychological thriller comiccon Starz TV renewals E3 game of thrones Vudu rotten movies we love Rocketman TCM The Walking Dead aliens E! Super Bowl YouTube Syfy Sony Pictures ghosts Rock Chernobyl RT21 Cosplay OWN Black History Month Netflix revenge breaking bad Hulu spanish language DC streaming service boxoffice WGN Musical cancelled Polls and Games 007 Cannes Pride Month christmas movies OneApp sports Ellie Kemper Quiz spain YouTube Red Turner Tarantino best SXSW Western cults docudrama Character Guide child's play slashers New York Comic Con canceled Amazon Studios Nominations robots blaxploitation Set visit TV Epix teaser Valentine's Day universal monsters Disney streaming service A&E Acorn TV Captain marvel Comics on TV composers richard e. Grant Shudder award winner DC Universe spinoff Red Carpet singing competition police drama batman Trophy Talk ITV Star Wars Grammys VICE Toys toy story RT History foreign Action crime Travel Channel dc Cartoon Network cooking IFC Films Dark Horse Comics Oscars Pop movie Classic Film independent YA biography Discovery Channel halloween American Society of Cinematographers SDCC 2015 nature Christmas Podcast MCU Opinion History Logo Britbox war hist movies cops period drama political drama mutant Mary Tyler Moore Superheroes Lucasfilm El Rey comics series TCA 2017 anime dceu concert WarnerMedia HBO The Witch BBC America Columbia Pictures Black Mirror children's TV 2020 2017 Pet Sematary 2018 documentary travel jamie lee curtis reboot Funimation adaptation transformers Country DirecTV miniseries 45 based on movie Comedy Central San Diego Comic-Con ratings TLC Tumblr 2019 Mudbound Spectrum Originals PaleyFest facebook stoner sitcom FOX Marvel Peacock romance BBC true crime unscripted Drama Trivia book AMC Creative Arts Emmys FXX Horror technology LGBT YouTube Premium Baby Yoda versus Box Office Holidays Animation Song of Ice and Fire Fall TV crime drama festivals Mystery Musicals Holiday justice league crossover stand-up comedy Family ABC A24 Arrowverse 4/20 Martial Arts zero dark thirty sag awards Walt Disney Pictures Certified Fresh Showtime Interview anthology Fox News MSNBC Spring TV Amazon Prime elevated horror MTV Emmys Thanksgiving Pop TV screen actors guild Paramount adventure Infographic vampires Sundance Extras Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Elton John television Reality Competition Academy Awards Lionsgate Awards Tour IFC Food Network comedies DC Comics spy thriller TruTV talk show Warner Bros. FX on Hulu VH1