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I'm a Cyborg

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Posted 20th April 2009 at 07:55 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

I'm a Cyborg

The reason so many of us gravitated to extreme Asian Cinema at the turn of the decade must partly have been due to boredom. Weary of the genre rules of Hollywood horror and action movies we searched out new kicks in the form of nerve jangling J-horror ghost yarns, Takashi Miikes surreal and vicious gangster fantasies or the downbeat art-shocks of Kim Ki-Duk.

But, like all new fads, the media led invasion of Far East entertainment soon revealed that average filmmaking goes on throughout the world and the cliches soon revealed themselves. Endless drenched and angry female ghosts sought vengeance in a glut of Ring derived horror flicks that tainted the initial excitement.

So I hunted for cinematic kicks in the grindhouse, reveling in the grimy depths of 42nd Street sleaze and low rent zero budget 70s horror. I still watched many Asian movies, but my hunger to see everything that hit the shelves was gone.

This is the movie that restored my love of extreme Asian films, from the maker of Old Boy and Lady Vengeance, South Korean Director, Chan-Wook Park.

"Iím A Cyborg" is one of the most vibrant and exciting Asian films to hit the UK in a long time. Heart-warming, Surreal, with explosions of shocking violence that would sit comfortably in a classic Arnie shoot-em-up, itís a sensational ride into the world of psychotic mental illness that recalls the quirky and cute insanity of "Benny & Joon" by way of the imaginative and abstract Science of Sleep. Of course, those films donít feature the kind of dark and twisted flights into blood-letting fantasy that "Iím A Cyborg" delivers in spades.

Big Old Spoilers to follow...

The film opens with Young-goon, a disturbed young women who believes she is a robot, to the point where she is institutionalized after wiring herself into the mains at work by forced electrical cables into her severed wrist and fixing the plug into a socket. She refuses to eat, convinced that she can get all the energy she needs from licking batteries.

Her mental instabilities run in the family as he Grandmother, who raised her instead of her reputation obsessed mother, is convinced she is a mouse.

When Young-goon arrives at the hospital, she meets Il-Sun, a young man in a rabbit mask who has been incarcerated for Schizophrenia and anti-social behaviour. He has the ability to steal peoples skills, talents and emotions. He steals one patients signature Ping-Pong move and anotherís choral singing voice.

Bad news follows when Young-goon finds out that her beloved grandmother is close to death. Young has her dentures which she believes will help granny live, because then sheíll be able to digest the radishes that she eats obsessively. But Young is locked away and the authorities have no desire to release her as she is clearly disturbed, refusing to eat and prone to lapse into Catatonia.

Now, Young the Cyborg wants revenge against the "White íUns", all those Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies that are keeping her from her mission to save her Grandmother. When she receives Electro Shock Therapy her wish is granted and she is transformed into a killing machine. Her fingertips detach, revealing automatic weaponry, loaded with high calibre rounds that blast through the hospital walls and tear the staff asunder, sending white coated employees reeling in a hail of bullets and blood letting as the empty cartridges rattle out of Young-goons mechanized mouth.

Of course, the reality is that all these spectacular events are playing out in the mind of a women utterly disconnected from the real world. The facts of the matter are that she is wasting away, despite attempts at force feeding. Luckily, Il-Sun turns out to be her saving grace, convincing her that he has invented a food-to-electricity converter, which means that she can eat noodles again.

Iím A Cyborg is a really sweet natured film that presents mental illness in an almost charming fashion. Despite the gore drenched carnage that Young-goon revels in inside her warped imagination, at heart she is a decent person who just wants to help her family. Il-Sun is a saint who loves Young-goon, believing her story that she is a robot and helping her to recover her strength.

As a film, it doesnít have the shock value of Old Boy, although anyone with an ounce of fun in their soul will be leaping up and down on the couch when Young-goon opens fire with her machine gun fingertips for the first time. Instead it brings a little heart and soul to the party, allowing for a few tender moments of real human emotion amongst the insanity, robotic fantasies and general carnage.

Highly recommended, Iím A Cyborg is a fine example of a director refusing to rest on his laurels. After making the Vengeance Trilogy, a set of movies that all carried similar themes but were each radically different from each other, it seems Chan Wook-Park has struck out in another highly original direction. Any fan of weird Asian genre cinema needs to see this...
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  1. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    Great review but i have to say i'm not the biggest fan of modern Asian horror. There have beem some real gems like Audition, The Eye, Teenage Hooker Became a Killing Machine. But i prefer the old asian stuff.
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    Posted 21st April 2009 at 10:06 AM by Pete Pete is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Teenage hooker is a great film. I'm a big fan of the Cyberpunk stuff like Rubber's Lover and the Tetsuo films, The 80s gore stuff like Guinea Pig and Evil Dead Trap, but nothing beats the work done in the 60s (Kwaidan, etc) and the 70s exploitation stuff.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 21st April 2009 at 12:04 PM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    I liked Rubbers Lover but not Tetsuo but then again i wasn't in the best of moods when i watched it.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 21st April 2009 at 12:19 PM by Pete Pete is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    I think it's frenetic pace and sheer insanity that appeals inn Tetsuo. I love that in the film Electric Dragon 80000 Volts as well
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 21st April 2009 at 01:54 PM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
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