Friday, July 13, 2007

It's been a bit - about two weeks - but I saw Park Chan-Wook's new film, I'm a Cyborg, But That's Okay at the New York Asian Film Festival. I've let it sink in, marinate, let it get a little tastier in my memory. And the thing is, I wouldn't say Chan-Wook fumbled the ball on this, but it's no Lady Vengeance or Oldboy. Those are hard acts to follow, and I can't say I'm disappointed by Cyborg - hell, Chan-Wook's movies are like pizza. Even when they're bad, they're good.

Man, I'm making this sound bad. Lemme start again.

Park Chan-Wook's new film, I'm a Cyborg, But That's Okay is a whimsical film, a grand departure from Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and even Joint Security Area. And while that whimsy is enough to carry the movie from start to finish, it's not without its flaws. But first, what it's about:

Cha Young-goon (a young woman, played by Su-jeong Lim, who I think is actually very cute, despite the eyebrows) thinks she's a combat cyborg who's sole job is to get a set of dentures back into her grandmother's possession. While at work building a radio, she slits her wrist, and inserts some live wires so she can power up. This gets her sent to a mental hospital. And why wouldn't it? While there, she meets an interesting cast of characters, including the male lead, some guy named RAIN (his character is Park Il-sun, and RAIN was voted's most influential person in the world... go fig). Park's deal is that he steals. But he steals other people's mental problems. At one point, Cha wants him to steal her sympathy, so she can go on a killing spree and bring her mission to a close.

Yeah, I know.

My only problem with the film - and ultimately, it's a pretty big problem - is that Cha's problem isn't really explored, even though it's a pretty important part of the film. Why does she think she's a cyborg? It's obviously a defense mechanism, so why is it there? We get to see it in glimpses, and it's never really resolved. Now, I have no problem with it having no resolution, but I'd loved to have seen more of it.

Nevertheless, I recommend you check this out if it comes to a theater near you. There are plenty of good laughs here, and there are moments that move toward poignant (they coulda made it, too, had Chan-Wook delved into Cha's background more).