I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK
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Young-goon, a young woman who believes herself to be a cyborg, and is institutionalized after a gruesome and nearly fatal attempt to recharge her batteries. Among the characters she meets in the mental hospital is Il-soon, a kleptomaniac who steals not only small items, but entire character traits from the other patients. Young-goon enlists Il-soon s aid to help her discover and complete her purpose as a cyborg, while he finds himself coming to care about her and seeks to find a solution to her troubles that will remain true to her delusion.
About the Director
From the director of "OLD BOY" and "SYMPATHY FOR MR.VENGEANCE" Berlin International Film Festival 2007 Won, Alfred Bauer Award Chan-wook Park Nominated, Golden Berlin Bear Chan-wook Park
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After having watched Chan Wook Park's popular and high quality Vengeance trilogy of films, I had to try this one, too, if only because I'd also seen a "favorite film" blurb about it in a UK film mag. I'm happy that this is finally coming out in Region 1 ; I've had to borrow multi-region players for my previous (R3) DVD.
To start with, "Cyborg" is one of those gray area, caught-in-the-middle movies. Either it will be too little for some, or too much for others. Park's fans, used to his dark tone and violence, might find this one too light or too sweet or too awkward a juxtaposition of tones. Others reading its description as a surreal romantic dramedy (which it is, to a point) might be disturbed or turned off by the psych ward setting, the confused narrative, some of the harsher language, the violent sequences, and/or various disturbing themes and subjects that pop up. I'm reminded somewhat of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," which has a similar love it / hate it divide.
"Cyborg" is the story of a young woman who is, for reasons that are (mostly) explained over the course of the film, absolutely convinced she is a cyborg, talking to electronic appliances and having weird "Terminator"-style fantasies of blasting the orderlies, and licking batteries in the cafeteria. She also has her own cold and cyborg-type philosophy of life, literally illustrated by children's book drawings of "Seven Deadly Sins." She befriends a fellow patient with a history of stealing who likes ping-pong and trading/transferring the problems of the other patients, a bewildering and varied group with many quirks.
The story is inevitably confusing on the first viewing, being told anti-chronologically, surreally, with dream sequences and multiple PoVs, so it takes some patience, a subtle attentive mind, a second viewing, and perhaps an after-movie peek at the film's Wikipedia article to understand what's going on.
Although I found it confusing, I also found it at turns disturbing, illuminating, and sometimes even charming, and so worth seeing. Interesting score, which insists on a comic witty vibe despite the harsher plot elements, and some fantastic visuals, especially the main title sequence.
Ultimately, it's one of those movies you have to try or rent before buying.
This movie is quirky, surrealistic, sad, violent and dramatic while also being the exact opposite at the same time. It's funny, heart-warming, intelligent, and romantic at the other end of the spectrum. For Rain's (aka Bi and real name Jung Ji Hoon - a top Korean singing star) first movie, he did an excellent acting job. He is a kleptomaniac that not only steals physical items, but also steals personalities form people. Of course the other patients at the hospital actually believe that he can steal their personalities therefore they lost those traits' that he "steals". Doing this he helps the main actress throughout the show to cope and survive. He slowly falls in love with her while finding ways to help her get through the trauma that got her hospitalized in the first place.
Some thought the ending was a little unclear, but I thought it was appropriate. You're left with a visual that can be interpreted into many different scenarios. Ultimately, I felt that the director made the right choice with that ending, because you have to remember that this movie is about two young and flawed individuals that have found each other in a mental institution of all places. Who knows what happens to the two of them? I'm glad that I can make up my own "happily ever after".
I did personally think the movie was just a little bit too long (nearly 3 hours). When I show it to my friends now there are a few scenes that I skip over and I turn the movie off after the amazing climactic scene in the cafeteria (the one that ends in applause and great catharsis). I feel like stopping it there ends the film on a much more powerful note. Basically I cut it down to just the plot about Young-Goon not eating and learning to live as a human while believing she's a cyborg. And I take out some of the sub-plot of trying to figure out what her grandma said was her true-purpose.
This isn't the sort of movie that casual movie viewers are going to pick up and watch on their own, but if they do somehow chance to watch it, they will probably love it. All of my casual friends who I've shown it to have absolutely loved it, so I feel comfortable recommending it to just about everyone (maybe not younger viewers unless you skip the three bloody/violent scenes).
This film is amazing! It is now in my top 3 favorite movies of all time!