Okja is a 2017 action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho and co-written by Bong and Jon Ronson. The film stars an ensemble cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun, alongside Hollywood actors Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
|Directed by||Bong Joon-ho|
|Story by||Bong Joon-ho|
|Music by||Jaeil Jung|
|Edited by||Yang Jin-mo|
Next Entertainment World
(South Korea Theater)
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In 2007, self-defined environmentalist Lucy Mirando becomes CEO of the Mirando Corporation, succeeding her controversial grandfather, her father and her cruel twin sister Nancy. She announces that they have been breeding a special kind of super pig. The twenty-six produced specimens are sent to as many farmers in different locations around the world, and ten years later, one of them will be crowned the winner of a competition to breed the best one.
In 2017, a young girl named Mija lives happily in the countryside of South Korea with her grandfather and their super pig, Okja. They are visited by Mirando spokesperson and zoologist Dr. Johnny Wilcox, who declares Okja the best super pig and announces they will take her to New York City. Mija's grandfather takes her to visit the graves of her parents where he presents her with a gold pig and explains to her that rather than buy Okja, which was not allowed, he saved up the money for Okja and bought the solid gold item. Devastated, Mija runs away to Seoul to find Okja, where she sees her as she is being loaded onto a truck. Mija manages to chase down the truck which is eventually intercepted by another truck, run by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). In the resulting chaos Mija and Okja run away causing havoc though they are eventually saved by the ALF. Recognizing that Mija is Okja's owner, they tell her that their plan is to put a recording device in Okja's ear and let her be re-captured by the Mirando corporation to show how brutally they treat their animals. Mija tells them to return her to the mountains but their translator, K, deliberately lies, leading the group to believe Mija is in agreement with their plan. They abandon her, and Okja is recaptured.
Meanwhile, footage of Okja and Mija running through the streets of Seoul has gone viral. In order to minimise the damage, Lucy pays for Mija to come to New York to be reunited onstage with her pig. Okja is taken to a laboratory in New Jersey where she is forcibly bred with another super pig and bits of meat are extracted from her flesh for a taste test by a drunk Wilcox. Members of the ALF overhear the recording through the device they placed in Okja's ear. After the ALF see the forced breeding, K reveals he deliberately lied to the rest of the group about Mija's support of the plan in order to continue the mission. In response, Jay angrily beats K up, and at the same time expels him from the ALF, for intentionally mistranslating Mija's assent to the plan, which led to Okja's subsequent treatment. Jay vows to help Okja and Mija and use the recording to expose the Mirando corporation's animal abuse.
In New York City, Mija spends her time learning bits of English and being forced to agree to the wishes of the Mirando corporation. Jay, the leader of ALF, slips into her room and tells her that they still plan to rescue Okja while on stage. A huge parade is put on by the Mirando Corporation, who give out free meat in the street. Mija is reunited with Okja who, blinded and battered does not recognize her and attacks her. In the resulting chaos, Jay tries to hurt Okja, but Mija prevents him from doing so, calming Okja down so that she recognizes Mija. A video of Wilcox's treatment of Okja is screened by the ALF to the public, who quickly turn on him and Lucy. Mija and the ALF attempt to escape with Okja, but Nancy arrives back and quickly takes over the Mirando Corporation, recapturing Okja and having the ALF members beaten and arrested by their private security and the NYPD. Nancy closes the lab, scraps all of Lucy's promotional marketing, and starts full-time operations at their slaughterhouse. Jay and Mija are rescued by K, who had 'translations are sacred' tattooed on his arm.
Jay and K take Mija to find Okja in a mass slaughterhouse. The group search for Okja but are unable to find her until Mija sees her going up the ramp to the slaughterhouse. In order to save Okja she runs through the killing plant and sees many dead super pigs. Mija sees Okja as she is about to be slaughtered and shows the Mirando employee a photograph of herself with a baby Okja. The man seems moved, but Nancy arrives and tells Mija and the man that Okja must be slaughtered. Mija offers the golden pig to Nancy in exchange for Okja's life. Nancy agrees to the deal whilst subsequently arresting Jay and K. As Mija and Okja are leaving, they see many more pigs being led to slaughter. A pair of superpigs manages to push their newborn through the fence, and Okja hides it within her mouth to take it away.
Back in the countryside, Mija resumes her life with her grandfather, Okja, and the new piglet. In a post-credits scene, Jay is released from prison and gets on board a bus with K and the other members of the organization, who reveal that the ALF will be disrupting a major meeting involving all of the Mirando shareholders.
- Ahn Seo-hyun as Mija, a young farmgirl who takes care of Okja.
- Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, the eccentric powerful CEO of the Mirando Corporation looking to profit from Okja.
- Swinton also plays Nancy Mirando, Lucy's twin sister, the cruel former CEO of the Mirando Corporation.
- Paul Dano as Jay, the leader of an animal-rights activist group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox, a disturbed zoologist and TV personality.
- Byun Hee-bong as Heebong, Mija's grandfather.
- Steven Yeun as K, an animal-rights activist and ALF member, who serves as translator between Mija and the rest of the ALF.
- Lily Collins as Red, an animal-rights activist and ALF member.
- Yoon Je-moon as Mundo Park
- Shirley Henderson as Jennifer, Lucy's assistant.
- Daniel Henshall as Blond, animal-rights activist, ALF member, and boyfriend of Silver.
- Devon Bostick as Silver, animal-rights activist, ALF member, and boyfriend of Blond.
- Choi Woo-shik as Kim Woo-shik, a young driver for the Mirando Corporation.
- Giancarlo Esposito as Frank Dawson, an associate with the Mirando Corporation.
In October 2015, it was announced that director Bong Joon-ho's next film will feature a South Korean female lead and a cast of English-speaking supporting actors, with filming set in New York. On November 10, 2015 it was picked up by Netflix and Plan B Entertainment with a budget of $50 million, with production starting in late 2016 for release in 2017. Darius Khondji joined the film as cinematographer in February 2016.
Bong sought out Welsh author Jon Ronson to help with the script. Working with a rough draft of the story, Ronson helped develop the English-speaking characters.
Director Bong Joon-ho has called Okja "a very shy and introverted animal. It's a unique animal that we've not seen before."
Okja had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2017. During the first few minutes of screening, the film was met with boos, mixed with applause, during its premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, once when the Netflix logo appeared on screen and again during a technical glitch, (which got the movie projected in an incorrect aspect ratio for its first seven minutes). for which the festival later issued an apology to the filmmakers. However, despite the initial negative response, the film received a four-minute standing ovation.
On the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 166 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Okja sees Bong Joon-ho continuing to create defiantly eclectic entertainment – and still hitting more than enough of his narrative targets in the midst of a tricky tonal juggling act." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 76 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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