I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK

Friday, April 2, 2010 9:03 PM By Simon

Warning: I was watching this film on crappy Youtube picture. Also, I imagine translating Korean to English is not very easy, but at times the subtitles were completely nonsensical. That being said, here we go.

This, I imagine, must've been Park Chan-wook's stroll to the other side of cinema. Made in 2006, right after completion of his Vengeance trilogy with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, it is the complete opposite of his previous works. While, yes, it does retain the general themes of his--particularly, revenge--it is done through absurdity, surrealism, and humor.

"A girl who thinks she is a combat cyborg checks into a mental hospital, where she encounters other psychotics. Eventually, she falls for a man who thinks he can steal people's souls."

Starring Im Su-jeong, from A Tale of Two Sisters , as the almost-titular Young-goon, the girl who thinks she's a cyborg. She is admitted after, at her factory job, cutting her wrist open, putting a wire in, and plugging it into a socket. This is interpreted as a suicide attempt, but, to her, she was just following the instructions of her transmitter radio, who tells her, among other cyborg-related business, that this will recharge her.

She soon meets a young man named Il-sun, played by Rain (apparently a Big Deal in Korea, a pop star crossing over into acting, but I don't suppose he ever got big over here, except I think he was in Speed Racer, and I know he starred in Ninja Assassin, which my sister saw, and now she's in love with him or something). Anyway, he is described as an anti-social, kleptomaniac schitzophrenic who frequently steals not only people's things, but their traits and attributes, until he is done with them. He also thinks he's going to shrink into a dot, prompting him to manically brush his teeth when nervous or upset, because, as he puts it, "When the teeth start to go, it's all over". Or something to that effect, I'm paraphrasing. And he wears homemade bunny masks a lot, something I will assume Park got from Donnie Darko, because honestly, that is my fangirl fantasy.

Yeah, she approaches him one day, begging him to steal her sympathy (one of the 7 Deadly Cyborg Sins) so that she may kill the 'men in white', who took her grandmother, also mentally ill (she thought she was a mouse), away.

Dude, this movie is, for lack of a better word, precious. Adorable, really. It's how quirky-couple comedies should be. Performances from the two main leads are whimsically weird, absolutely sweet and innocent, in a twisted way. Im, especially, has a permanent look of confused wonder on her face, that can only be expected from womanchilds of Young-goon's calibre. Rain is more game than you'd expect of a pop star crossing over (though, I can only speak for the American sort), and is absolutely good as a guy spending most of his time being actively despised by the rest of the equally demented, anarchic patients, each portrayed delightfully and ridiculously by their actors, as they all atribute every lost item, talent, or trait to him, even the ones he didn't steal.

Overall, funny and sweet and kind of heartbreaking, surreal and extremely weird.

PS Have you ever heard yodelling in Japanese? It's probably the greatest thing ever.


Alex said...

Excellent post- I really loved this film! The more of Park's movies I see, the more obsessed I become. I believe this one is more toned-down because he wanted to make something his younger daughter could watch, or something along those lines.

I really hope you can get a copy of the DVD though, since the visuals are spectacular and I can only imagine it's hard to fully appreciate them with a youtube version. I know the dvd isn't available in the US, but there is a universal dvd on amazon, I believe.

April 5, 2010 at 10:03 PM