Park Chan Wook, Rain, Bi, Jung Ji Hoon, Im Soo Jung

(This version of the film poster was used at the London Korean Film Festival)

‘I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay’ is a 2006 film directed by Park Chan Wook – someone you might be familiar with through the hugely successful film ‘Old Boy’ from his ‘Vengeance Trilogy’.

Cha Young Goon (Im Soo Jung) is a young girl who is admitted to a mental hospital after her effort to electrocute herself is mistaken for a suicide attempt. In fact, Young Goon was actually trying to ‘recharge’ herself because she believes that she is not a human, but a Cyborg.

Young Goon is feeling incredibly exhausted and is desperate to find a means of recharging herself. She eats none of the food she is given, preferring to spend her time licking the ends of batteries and talking to the vending machine and fluorescent light strips.

Young Goon feels completely lost and is plagued by one question: “What is the purpose of my existence?”

A fellow patient called Park Ii Soon (Jung Ji Hoon a.k.a Rain), a young man who has a penchant for wearing handmade cardboard masks, becomes fascinated with the girl. He watches her closely for a while, completely perplexed.

It is only when Young Goon finds out Ii Soon’s talent for ‘stealing’ other patient’s personality traits that she actively approaches him for help.
As a Cyborg, she believes she has a duty to fulfil in killing the hospital doctors to avenge her grandmother who also suffered with mental health problems. The only problem being that Young Goon is hounded by feelings of sympathy, not such a good trait when you want to commit mass murder, right?

Ii Soon firmly believes that Young Goon is not a Cyborg, but can see that she is slowly killing herself by refusing to eat, despite all his own problems, he can’t stop himself from wanting to help this strange ‘Cyborg’.

GOOD POINTS

• Im Soo Jung and Rain are both very good in their roles. These two are some of the strangest characters I have ever known, but somehow as a viewer, you end up identifying with them. You will Young Goon to find the meaning to her existence and feel her grief as she still struggles to let go of her grandmother. You see Ii Soon develop slowly as a person as he finds his heart through his care for Young Goon.

• Something I adore about Chan Wook’s films is the artistic vision he shows in his work. He seems to like to tackle very disturbing, unsettling and strange stories – most of which involve great levels of violence and gore. However, even if you are someone who absolutely hates this sort of stuff, I am sure you would still be able to appreciate the beautiful colours and images as well as the very unique cinematography he uses in every one of his pieces.

• The humour in this film is very strange, but very good. It is the sort of thing where you are tempted to laugh, but are either unsure if you were intended by the producers to do so or whether, morally, you should be anyway. What I mean by this is that there is some quite black humour shown. You may find yourself shielding a snigger at some points, but I am inclined to think that this was anticipated by the writers.

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• The general story of this film is great and so very deep. The characters are far from perfect, perceived to be so far from ‘normal’ that they are in need of professional help. Despite this, Young Goon and Ii Soon’s relationship is weirdly wonderful and pure. This is so refreshing considering the proliferation of romantic dramas full to the brim with good-looking and wealthy characters on our screens. It makes you feel good, almost like someone telling you that all your imperfections are nothing to be ashamed of.

BAD POINTS

• The entire film was so random and abstract in parts that viewers may sometimes find themselves a little lost while watching. This is not a problem as such (anyone who watches a film set in mental hospital expecting coherency is silly!) but the end was very abrupt. It kind of felt like the film wasn’t finished and I generally felt unclear as to what exactly was happening near the end. I think this is because that classic ‘Hollywood’ ending is more commonplace – everything is more or less wrapped up before the credits roll, which I suppose is a lot less realistic than what is given here.

OVERALL

This film is definitely NOT your average romantic comedy, but it still manages to offer the funny fluff that you would expect – just in it’s own way.

To put this film into a few words – it is unique and feel-good. You really do feel brighter after watching, even if it’s not in an overt way.

Something I was very pleasantly surprised with was Rain’s acting skills. I like some of his work and think he comes across as a generally nice guy, but I find it hard to understand why everyone raves about him so much. He is incredibly handsome, but I think he really limited himself with his image. Come on, what springs to mind when I say his name? Amazing abdominal muscles? Sexy Wave dance move?
Yeah and that’s kind of it.

If anyone reading this has seen ‘Ninja Assasin’ may have joined me in being less than impressed with Rain’s acting in it (perhaps that was partly due to a lacking narrative and the fact that a Hollywood film requires English speaking though).

Despite all this, Rain really shines in this piece…or should I say he refracts the light. You know…because raindrops are water and…okay sorry, I know that was bad.

Anyway, I would recommend this film to anyone who is in the mood for something different and relaxing. If you don’t mind random, other-worldliness and strange humour then I suggest you give it a go!

(P.S. Look out for Rain’s awesome yodelling skills…yes, really!)

Have you seen this film before? If so, what did you think of it?

Are you a fan of Park Chan Wook’s work?

[Image source: Google Images].

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