Friday, 6 July 2012

filmbore pick of the week - I'm A Cyborg, But That's Ok

I'm A Cyborg, But That's Ok Park Chan-Wook
Screenplay: Seo-Gyeong Jeong, Park Chan-Wook
Starring: Lim Soo Jung, Jung Ji-Hoon (Rain)
Year: 2006
Language: Korean
UK Rental Release: May 2008

Park Chan-Wook is a monumental director of Korean Cinema, like a Steven Spielberg, or a John Woo, or a Christopher Nolan. His Vengeance trilogy is a solid, hefty set of films that make an impact on you for some time, but in my opinion I feel that this movie is his true masterpiece (calm down Old Boy fans!).

For those that would like some dark cinema blended in with some eastern charm and quirk, I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok is the perfect choice. Lim Soo Jung (A Tale Of Two Sisters) plays Cha Young-Goon, who believes that she is not a human...but a cyborg! And whether she is, or she isn't, this doesn't stop her from connecting her transistor radio to her veins in order to re-charge her potentially imaginary/real batteries. The resulting re-charge/suicide attempt leads to her admission to a mental institute, where she meets Park Il-Sun (Rain, Ninja Assassin, Speed Racer), a boy thief who believes that if he doesn't steal the possessions and personal traits of other patients, he'll vanish into a dot.
I know what you're thinking...the plot sounds crazier than the inmates! In fact, the story itself delves even deeper than this but it's these oddities that make up the originality of such a brilliant piece of work. A splattering of humour is added to some unusual places in this concoction but still feel fitting. Especially in some of the more violent set pieces, assisted by some jovial music in a score and theme that stick in your head like a dart with a barb. You'll be humming the main titles for weeks!

The performances are full of exuberance and charm, and it all moves at a calm, confident pace, drawing you into the bizarre world it illustrates. The other characters, especially the patients, help in building this attractive peculiarity with their unique idiosyncrasies, bringing small plot devices of their own. With all of this, what appears to be painted on the cover as a sci-fi assassin film, is in fact an elegant and patient portrayal of interweaving personalities, with a hint of whimsy.'s unusual to see Park Chan-Wook create a tale like this, but he seems such a natural at it. And I feel that the one glue that keeps it all together for him is his camera. This entire film is a cinematic piece of art! The opening title credits themselves are interwoven with the intro to the story: a circuit board legend here, a monitor label there. And every single frame is immaculate...simply stunning; perfectly lit, with interesting angles and vibrant visuals. Even the slower shots leap out of the screen with such force you feel like taking a picture yourself. In fact, if you own a Blu-Ray player I highly recommend that you watch it on this format, as the lens work is breathtaking in HD.

With all of the subtext throughout, it's difficult to pin this to one particular genre, but I feel that sifting through the insanity, drama, fantasy, sci-fi and comedy, I'm happy to label this as a unique love story between two lost souls, creeping to find a central core with one another. Heck, I'm tempted to call it the smartest romantic comedy ever, but that may be pushing it!

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