BONG Joon-ho’s South Korean comedy thriller has been making history, breaking out of the best foreign film categories to pick up major mainstream prizes including the Palme d’Or. Tomorrow in Los Angeles, Parasite is up for six Oscars, including best picture. This is a film that will not be fenced in, much like its brilliant director.

Where his previous picture, Okja, looked at animal rights and the meat industry, Parasite takes the temperature of the war between rich and poor. If that makes it sound worthy it is anything but. Funny, full of twists, and superbly acted, Parasite races by, going to places many a Hollywood director would not dare.

At the centre of this grimmest of urban fairytales are the Park and Kim families. The Kims live in a semi-basement flat with a view of the bins and urinating drunks. Unable to hold on to any job for long, mum, dad, and their son and daughter are small time hustlers, scratching their way from one meal to the next. The Parks live in a fabulous, architect-designed home with hot and cold running luxuries. Their three dogs eat better than the Kims.

The Kims’ fortunes start to change after they come into possession of a “lucky rock”, and the son lands a job teaching English to the Park daughter. The son recommends his sister as an art therapist; she in turn bags a chauffeur’s job for dad; and he engineers a spot for his wife as housekeeper. The Parks don’t know all their new employees are related; they only care that the jobs get done and, in the case of businessman Mr Park, that no-one “crosses the line” and becomes too familiar.

The Kims drive a convoy across that line, taking every advantage they can. Carry on like this, thinks dad (Bong favourite Song Kang-ho) and their lives will be changed forever.

Bong, who co-wrote the Bafta-winning screenplay, cleverly plays on the audiences sympathies and prejudices. Who is worse: the Kims for doing the best they can or the pampered Parks for being such snobs. The scene when Mr Kim overhears the Parks talking about his funny smell is enough to send anyone to the barricades. “She’s rich but still nice,” says Kim senior of the lady of the house. “Nice because she’s rich,” corrects his wife. “Hell, if I had all this money I’d be nice too.”

Into this set-up Bong introduces some new elements and lets the real games begin. What unfolds looks like chaos it is as beautifully choreographed as a ballet, with Bong never putting a foot wrong. On and on the picture whirls, taking the breath away as it goes. What a talent. The only pity is that it has taken this long for him to break into the mainstream.