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Parasyte - The Grey - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Gi-saeng-su: deo geu-re-i

South Korea 2024

Number of Episodes: 6
Action, Horror, Thriller

Yeon Sang-ho

Jeon So-nee
Koo Kyo-hwan
Lee Jung-hyun
Kwon Hae-hyo
Kim In-kwon
Moon Joo-yeon
Yoo Yong

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Parasyte - The Grey

Parasyte - The Grey - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Jeong Soo-in (Jeon So-nee) works in a supermarket and seems to be cursed with bad luck. As a child, she was abused by her father, but was able to get help from the police. Since then, Cheol-min (Kwon Hae-hyo), one of the detectives from her childhood, has continually been looking after her. One day, however, she is fatally stabbed by a madman on her way home. As she is dying, an alien parasite enters her body and saves her life. Recently, there repeatedly have been cases of people being taken over by those parasites in the country. The victims completely lose their former personalities and are only focused on secretly luring people into a trap in order to store them as food. For this reason, Choi Joon-kyeong (Lee Jung-hyun) is already leading a task force that hunts down and eliminates those parasytes. Cheol-min and his colleagues are eventually also in on the existence of these creatures. The detective suspects that Soo-in could be one of them, since she not only survived the essentially fatal attack, but didn't even suffer an injury. He eventually rules out that she is a parasyte, though. Soo-in actually entered into some kind of symbiosis with the foreign organism, which was the result of the fact that she was dying when the parasite took over her body. She doesn't yet know how to deal with this new situation, when she is approached by other parasytes who are currently trying to organize. They don't know that Soo-in managed to preserve her humanity. If they found out about it, it could be very dangerous for her. By chance she then meets the gangster Kang-woo (Koo Kyo-hwan), who is on the run because he has been betrayed by his gang. With his help, she tries to avoid the other parasytes, but she has already become a target.

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Review: I was quite surprised to suddenly find a series on Netflix, which was set in the "Parasyte" universe and moreover comes out of Korea. The story, based on the manga "Kiseiju" by Hitoshi Iwaaki, was already adapted into a two-parter in Japan about ten years ago. You can notice certain parallels to the "first part" in the series as the hero/heroine is also a shy person who suddenly gets extraordinary abilities, but on the whole, the series goes down its own path. For example, there is no humor here, and there is more at stake, because apparently anyone could die. Overall, the series turns out to be surprisingly entertaining. With just six episodes, it tells a compact story and works without subplots that would just unnecessarily drag things out. Therefore, the pacing is excellent, and the action is also nicely spread across the episodes. The special effects deserve special praise too. Even if you have to get used to the fact that the manga-like style of the parasites and the violent body horror in the likes of David Cronenberg create an extraordinary mixture here.

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Jeon So-nee ("Jo Pil-ho - The Dawning Rage") often seems a bit inconspicuous in her role and Soo-in a bit lost, but she portrays the contrast to her parasite, which is only allowed to come to the surface for 10-15 minutes a day, very believably. Despite her special abilities, Soo-in stays herself and doesn't just turn into a superheroine, which was a good decision. But she is also not the whiny girl you would expect, instead she grows throughout story. Nevertheless, she continues to carry the trauma of her childhood with her and is desperately looking for a way to come to terms with her new situation. For a series that focuses a lot on the action, it is sometimes amazing how much drama and character development found its way into the story. Unfortunately, the paternal relationship between her and the detective played by Kwon Hae-hyo ("Peninsula") only scratches the surface. Here, more would have been great. Because every now and then, you get the impression that we should be more interested in the relationship than we actually are. This shortcoming is one aspect that shows that there was also a lot of potential wasted when it comes to some of the developments later on.

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Unfortunately, the gangster who supports our heroine also ended up a bit too shallow. Koo Kyo-hwan ("Kill Boksoon") portrays the generic image of an actually nice guy who simply made a few wrong turns in life. The script kind of forgot to give his character some decent scenes, but Koo still manages to make us care about the ex-gangster. The head of the tough special unit "The Grey", on the other hand, may be a relentless parasite hunter who has lost all kinds of color and humanity due to an experience in her past, but in the end, this just leads to a clichéd character, and it's only towards the end that actress Lee Jung-hyun ("Decision to Leave") is able to get a little more out of her role. Despite the criticism of the characters and the lack of depth of their backstories, the dramatic moments still mostly manage to take us by surprise. And the quieter moments are always there when you need a little breather from the action. The show's greatest strength is therefore that "Parasyte - The Grey" has just the right rhythm and pace.

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But that shouldn't come as a surprise, because the series' director is Yeon Sang-ho, who not only already created a pretty thrilling and supernatural series for Netflix with "Hellbound", but of course, he is also responsible for "Train to Busan". And you can just see that in this show as well: The images immediately draw you into the action, they look extremely polished and are brought to the screen with such a sure hand that you get the impression you are watching a high-budget movie. Same thing with the special effects. They are mostly really impressive, and it's simply amazing that the special effects team was able to keep up such a high level of CGI with the sheer amount of heads splitting open into deadly weapons. If this had not worked out and if the design of the parasites had lacked imagination, the fights could easily have become quite ridiculous. Because the actors themselves often only have to headbang non-stop as if they were at a heavy metal concert. In addition, the series has a touch of horror because it can also get quite bloody. In any case, the sets and creativity ensure that the action is always fun to watch.

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Although there are some flaws in the script, for example Soo-in doesn't even try to appear as emotionless as an alien in dangerous moments, or Kang-woo simply sees through the parasytes' big plan by using his intuition, but there are a few refreshing aspects too. Such as the fact that humans are not completely powerless against the parasites, specifically because they are able to organize, something that the parasites realize is a great advantage and therefore also try to do in order to become more powerful. Alliances are forged, good and evil sometimes blur into a shade of gray and the parasytes' search for an identity, apart from their goal to simply survive, is fascinating. In this respect, though, the series could have taken even more risks. At the end, there is a little treat for fans of the original, and it will be interesting to see if there is going to be a second season. At least, things are already on the right track for that. "Parasyte - The Grey" is entertaining (horror) action that always knows how to keep the viewer happy. Even though you could criticize that the series could have done more, especially when it comes to the characters and the depth of the subject, it doesn't change the fact that it has extremely high entertainment value.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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