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Natural City (2003)

Ji-tae Yu , Jae-un Lee , Byung-chun Min  |  R |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ji-tae Yu, Jae-un Lee, Rin Seo, Eun-pyo Jeong, Doo-hong Jung
  • Directors: Byung-chun Min
  • Writers: Byung-chun Min, Jae-rim Han, Philip K. Dick
  • Producers: Lee Dong Jun
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1), Korean (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2006
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B000E0OBKG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,890 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Natural City" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The featurette The Story of Natural City
  • Deleted scenes
  • Cast interviews
  • Trailers

Editorial Reviews

Rebuilt after a devastating war, the world of 2080 has given rise to advanced technologies including the creation of cyborgs. Created with artificial intelligence (AI), human-like emotions and great strength, they serve one master for their entire lifespan. When the cyborgs revolt, R (Yoo Ji-tae)and Noma (Yoon Chan), Rs best friend and commander, lead an elite military squad ordered to eliminate the rebellion. Unbeknownst to anyone, R has fallen in love with Ria (Seo Rin), his cyborg, and is illegally harvesting AI chips from dead cyborgs in order to save her life. Torn between his love for Ria and the battle to save mankind, humanitys fate hangs in the balance.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
NATURAL CITY (2003) Directed by Min Byong-chan. Arresting production design and state-of-the-art visual effects can't disguise a dull plot that borrows so liberally from BLADE RUNNER and GHOST IN THE SHELL that the word 'tribute' could warrant legal action. To date, this is probably the most beautiful looking AND most vapid Korean science fiction film to come down the pipeline, and one feels almost guilty in knocking it in the face of the undeniable amount of craftsmanship that went into it.

Set in a futuristic megacity in the year 2080, it's about a sullen policeman (Yu Ji-tae) who wants to extend the life of his beautiful android dancer Ria (Seo Rin) by finding a new host for her brain-chip. As she's nearing her sell-by date, which requires her complete destruction, this puts him at odds with fellow cop Noma (Yun Chan) and evil android Roy Batty...err...evil uber-android Jeon Doo-hong, who has plans on accessing android headquarters and programming a massive robot uprising. Flying police cars, slow-floating dirigibles with gigantic projection screens, endlessly vertical skyscrapers forming a mountain of technology in a post-war wasteland.

We've seen all this before. And indeed, it all looks amazing here. But what's missing is any depth of character to make the story more convincing. The leading man is a complete cipher whose motivations for prolonging the life of his robot are never explained or explored, and while his robot clearly has functional difficulties with her impending doom, Seo underplays these scenes to a fault, generating neither tension nor sympathy, only indifference about her fate.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars beautiful but emotionally chilling August 25, 2006
OK, so I haven't seen Blade Runner, which this film has been repeatedly compared to. I have, however, seen Ghost in the Shell. Switch around a few plot specifics regarding cyborgs and the various bodies in which they might unexpectedly be found, and this is pretty much a live-action remake. Add in a bit of Minority Report sci-fi-noir and a flair for horror-suspense, a 5th-Elementesque mystical pleasure cruise ship that can take you away to a fabled land of forgetfulness, and finally toss in some Matrix-esque high-speed martial arts and sweeping, post-apocalyptic panoramics, and you've got yourself a movie. (I've only scratched the surface with the homages here: there's a fair number of nods to A.I., and one section of the soundtrack is jacked almost verbatim from a bit in the Truman Show. But never mind all that.)

The reason I liken this to Ghost in the Shell above the others is because they both have the following:

a) Beautiful, absolutely, astoundingly, beautiful visuals

b) A female cyborg character who wonders about the nature of life. (Fortunately, on this note I am pleased to report that Natural City's dialogue is a bit less rigid and more, well, human, than Ghost in the Shell's was.)

c) Nefarious, antagonistic, body-hopping cyborg villains.

Maybe it's because it's live action and not animated, but in general I found the characters to be surprisingly compelling for a cyborg flick. But their development is jarring and their motivations or thoughts are often maddeningly unclear. There's Cyon, the prostitute, who spends the first half of the movie sneering at everyone and the second staring in dull detachment at the ongoing events as they spiral out of control around her.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sci-Fi from South Korea August 14, 2006
Natural City is a visually stunning sci-fi movie produced in South Korea. It is dark, gritty, slow-moving film noir at its best. The plot revolves around a futuristic SWAT team hunting down rogue cyborgs and the love affair between one of the men and his cyborg girlfriend who is about to "expire". There are plenty of comparisons both in plot and in elements within the movie to Blade Runner, and in fact the director's cut of this film on Amazon is subtitled "Korean Blade Runner".

However, all of that said, Natural City is not a rip-off and is an awesome movie in its own right. It has an excellent story line, great acting, incredible visuals, action-packed scenes clearly inspired by The Matrix, and a very worthy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack. The film has English subtitles; but otherwise, you would not be able to tell it apart from a Hollywood film. On the contrary, Hollywood hasn't produced science fiction on this level for quite some time.

In particular, many months were spent building small-scale models filmed for a lot of the special effects. I still find this technique of using miniatures "realistically superior" to 95% of the computer graphics produced these days.

If you love dark, post-apocalyptic, film noir science fiction then you will love this movie. It's worthy-enough to reside in your DVD collection next to Blade Runner and the Alien trilogy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great film with stunning impressive visuals April 12, 2006
When you pick up a Tartan DVD release you know that you're getting your moneys worth. I've seen so many great movie releases from Tartan Video that I just can't begin express how much I appreciate being able to watch their latest stuff. Just recently I got to check out a film called Natural City. A Korean science fiction picture filled with great action, drama, visuals and a damn good story that goes with it. Natural City takes place in the year 2080 after a deadly war. Advanced in technology the streets are filled with cyborgs, flying cars, and well you get the picture. We fallow a man by the name of R, who is a fellow police official. R is in love with his cyborg companion Ria. To keep Ria alive R illegally takes AI chips from other dead cyborgs. Little does R know he is about to face his biggest challenge. To fight a group of rebellious cyborgs who are hell bent on taking down the entire police force.

The first thing that came in mind when I read the actual plot was the movie Blade Runner. For the simple fact that the stories are pretty similar. You can argue that perhaps director Byung-chun Min may had some inspirations prior to writing this film. Luckily in the special features of the DVD you get to hear from the director himself as to what really inspired him and what lead him to make the movie. Hearing about the real inspiration for Natural City makes total sense when you actually finish watching it. Natural City is a beautiful film which features some of the best looking visual effects I've ever seen. Watching some of the scenes were like watching cut scenes from a next generation video game. The movie blends in a nice mixture of computer and miniature visual effects. It helps give the movie a more realistic look behind all the CGI aspects of it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely cool sci-fi of the highest order
An extremely fine Korean sci-fi film, unfortunately betrayed by marketing tags comparing it to "The Matrix" & "Bladerunner". Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tuesday Dogg
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guilty pleasure!!
This film has a lot going for it and a story going down hill.I have to admit that this film did hit the spot for me great action and wonderful effects make it all work. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Pulpman
3.0 out of 5 stars South Korea invades "Blade Runner". Heavy casualties on both sides!
Having seen numerous very good South Korean films I decided to give a try to this 2003 science-fiction movie - and I was only partially satisfied. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Darth Maciek
5.0 out of 5 stars As a fan of Korean cinema I really liked this one.
I watch many Korean films, I really should be a professional at rating these films. I enjoy all the genres of K-movies mostly drama and action or action/thriller and some horror. Read more
Published 13 months ago by rodney
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Action/SciFi Film... (3.5/5)
R is a cop who hunts down renegade cyborgs; these humanlike cyborgs only have 3 years of life and are used for everything from combat to companionship. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars A futuristic action film that is full of entertainment and it will...
It might be a Blade Runner Copycat but this movie is full of entertainment it will keep you on the edge of your seat! Read more
Published 19 months ago by fmv
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminded me of Blade Runner
The plot was very good.

The scenery reminded me of Blade Runner.

Overall, very enjoyable, if you can take dealing with subtitles.
Published 22 months ago by Peaknic
5.0 out of 5 stars Down to Earth
Nice love story. Don't let the English sub-titles deter you from buying this film. I thought the special effects were pretty good as well as the stages.
Published 22 months ago by ILoveSciFi
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time.
This Blade Runner wannabe is a complete dud. The bloody fighting at the end is completely unnecessary. It is one of the worst Korean movies I have watched. Read more
Published on May 16, 2012 by R. Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars interestingly wierd
Very wierd and interesting movie, have never seen blade runner though (which is what this movie is compared to), a little hard to follow at first but a good sci-fi thriller!!
Published on September 19, 2011 by jammerz
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