Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006)

I'M A CYBORG, BUT THAT'S OK
DIRECTED BY: CHAN-WOOK PARK
WRITTEN BY: CHAN-WOOK PARK & SEO-GYEONG JEONG
OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10


Cha Young-goon (Su-jeong Lim) is checked into a mental hospital after she attempts to plug herself into the wall, via cutting her wrists (something which is construed as a suicide attempt). Believing herself to be a Cyborg, she is immediately befriended by Park Il-Sun (Rain), a kleptomaniac seeking to save himself from non-existence.

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A whimsically surreal adventure, torn between the dark underlying flaws of our main characters, and their almost childlike innocence... of course I'm excluding their self obsession, and one's dream of going on a killing rampage. I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK is Chan-Wook Park's embrassing of a more lighthearted analysis on the darker side of human life.

I'm a Cyborg, at its very core, deals with the many subtle worries humans face. Their troubles, dreams, desires, and the ultimate consequences when those whom are supposed to be protecting, ignore in favor of their own selfishness. Young-goon's journey to find her purpose in life is captivating, if not equally irritating, in the most comical sense. Her characters quirks put heavily on display give great moments of comedy, and heart to the viewer.

While at the same time we get to see Il-Sun, and his many efforts to help others through the only medium he understands (theft). Both of our main characters are brought to life through great performances from Su-jeong Lim and Rain (whom I was most worried about after having seen Ninja Assassin). With the supporting cast stepping up at each occasion, handling their scenes with great awareness to what Park seeks to present. A dark comical satire, with enough heart, and zaniness, to capture the raw emotion, without losing its surrealism. Confusing enough?

Where Park really stumbles is in the narrative. Seeking to be both a character study on finding ones purpose, and a surreal visual exercise, Park seems unsure of which to be at any given point. Spending much of the film leaning more towards character, and oddity, with surrealistic images slowly becoming more and more prominent. The downside to this is that it works in exact opposite of the plot. As the plot moves forward more and more the characters become closer, and I would argue, become less and less over the top. While our images becoming increasingly more so.

All of which culminates in an ending which will likely split most viewers. Beautifully captured, but not very fulfilling, Park leaves Cyborg feeling like the end of a chapter, rather than the end of a film. It's an exciting, fun, and emotional journey, that I feel could have used a better destination.

With beautiful imagery, and great characters, Park blends surrealism, hyperbole, with reality, and satire, to create a memorable, if not misguided effort in I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK. One you'll most definitely be captivated by, even if its narrative shortcomings don't inspire repeat viewings.


7 better thoughts:

Shubhajit said...

Yeah, this is curious little film with equal doses of idiosyncrasies and darkly comic humour. Whimsical on the surface, but with disturbing underneath. I agree, the film is well captured, but not as fulfilling in the end.

Alfindeol said...

Watching Korean movies? How quaint. I might add this to my list seeing as I do live in the country of origin.

Simon said...

You know how obsessed I am with this movie, right? I hate repetition.

And the visual charging away from the characters and action, I liked it. Like one was compensating for the other. And besides, Park said that he made this movie so he could take his daughter to see it with him. I like to think it's a breather from the Vengeance trilogy.

Alex said...

I love this movie. The ending is a bit off, it's true, but I was so won over by the characters and visuals that I could look past it.

pandemonicpixie said...

I loved this movie and also agree that the ending is off, but i'll definitely watch it again <3

pandemonicpixie said...

Oh, and i couldn't agree more about it being a breather from the vengeance trilogy.... lol.

Univarn said...

@Shub Thanks for the comment, and very well put!

@Alfindeol I try to watch a lot of different movies. I just especially enjoy asian movies :P

@Simon Definitely a nice breather. Though even still this is a rather odd movie to take the kids too. Granted I've seen parents do far worse.

@Alex The characters are very intriguing, and definitely held my interest far greater than I would have originally thought.

@pandemonicpixie I don't think there's person out there who couldn't use a breather from the vengeance films. They were some of the most intense, and darkly emotional, films I've ever seen.

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