Lazy, corrupt humans are doing the biting in the Parasite director’s re-released 2000 film Bong Joon-ho’s black-comic satire Barking Dogs Never Bite has been re-released after 20 years, and in many ways it could be seen as a thematic forerunner to his Oscar-winning hit Parasite, with its vision of strange people and strange secrets in a basement. But it’s entirely distinctive on its own (bizarre) terms: a film about animal cruelty (loosely inspired by the 19th-century children’s novel A Dog of Flanders by Marie Louise de la Ramée, perennially popular in Korea) and it begins with a huge “no animals were harmed” disclaimer. As well it might. The various moments of dog-jeopardy and dog-distress will have you hiding under your seat – and a certain dog rescue scene is like something out of The Shining. Lee Sung-jae plays Yun-ju, a hapless postgrad student with a pregnant partner. The pair live in a crumbling apartment building whose front doors open outwards – which is to be important in one chase scene. Yun-ju’s worries are compounded when he realises that he is expected to pay a hefty bribe to the elderly faculty professor to get a tenure-track job.
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