Review: Natural City (2003)

Directed by:
Cast: , , , ,

Distributed in Australia by:

Well, I enjoyed it. It’s not Blade Runner, but then again, what is? What it is, is an action-packed dark Korean flick full of body armour and chunky weapons, powerful bad guys and determined or tormented good guys, rainy streets with obligatory noodle stalls, and of course a plethora of beautiful Korean women.

The sound will drive your ears out the other side of your head: the weapons go chunka-chunka-chunk or rat-at-at-at, the boots and gear make all sorts of noises meant to indicate they’re being worn by heavily-armed dudes who will happily tear out your brain stem, and of course the various shouting, screaming, and assorted warfare sounds leave you in no doubt that this is not a romantic comedy.

The lead actor, Yoo Ji-tae, can also be seen in the excellent Park Chan-wook film Old Boy, although in a very different character. Here he gives heart and soul to his role as R, an MP who’s secretly in love with cyborg girl Ria (Seo Rin): the society here regards cyborgs as not human, and refers to all the girly cyborgs, apparently built for pleasure, as dolls. (Some might say there’s little change from your standard MTV clip these days.)

There’s some lovely CGI, as you would expect from a cyber-flick, and the ghetto areas are suitably grungy, although not as extensive as they could have been (I suspect budget constraints). There’s a lovely dancing-girl (the love interest), a uniformed computer-savvy girlie (also beautiful. But then this is Korea) and a cute tough-chick type. The male roster includes the obligatory mad scientist, the head of the MP team (who’s also a friend of Yoo’s character), a jowly government type, and several auxilliary blokes who are clearly on set only to be killed, tragically or humorously as required.

Film nerds will spot plenty of parallels with other films. There’s a bunch of stuff clearly borrowed from Blade Runner, a few scenes reminiscent of some famous HK films, and assorted other pastichery (since that’s French, perhaps it should be ‘pasticherie’). There’s even a motorbike scene that was filmed in HK, unless Korea has recently acquired its very own HSBC building with the iconic design. But never mind.

Overall then, lots of killin’ stuff fun, some lovely CGI and women, and almost two hours of happy mindless entertainment.

8 defective AI chips out of 10.
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