Johnny Clyde’s review published on Letterboxd:
The inclusion on my list for this one is tricky. But the fact that it's tricky is exactly why it's included on this list. I couldn't fully enjoy it because of the appropriation of indigenous culture depicted in the film. Were the characters white, it would be an easy inclusion. But Korea didn't have anything to do with the colonization and genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas. For that reason, the appropriation in the film comes off as genuinely innocently ignorant. Which for me personally, is quite forgivable and warrants a discussion.
And ultimately, yea, I of course would have preferred if indigenous culture wasn't used at all in the film.
The fact is, depictions of indigenous culture in this way, that is teepees, arrows, indian whooping, tomahawks, headdresses, the works, have spread all around the world in these very stereotypical ways. These wearable costume ways, and it's not alright for these companies to profit off of these bastardized depictions that reinforce stereotypes of continually oppressed peoples.
So innocent or not, it's still wrong.
And what did this plot device really even serve? It could have just as easily been a cowboy obsession for Da-Song.
And something could be said about a point being made, about richness and ignorance. About how the indigenous appropriation is used as a tool to show rich people just take whatever they want without so much as a second thought, but it feels like if that point was ever intended (which I don't think it was) it never went anywhere. It didn't culminate in anything. It just added a quirky Wes Anderson element to the film.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the film still. Joon-Ho Bong really is a master at his craft. It's not my favorite of his, but fits so snuggly with his filmography. Congratulations for Korea's long overdue global recognition since Oldboy. I still believe Korea has had the best cinema in the last 20 years.