I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK

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BERLIN -- It's got the most arresting title of the festival, but "I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK" is a major disappointment from a hot director. Coming off his hyper-violent trilogy on vengeance that took half a decade to make, Korean director Park Chan-wook wanted to make a "light" HD project before getting to a vampire film. Even so, setting what amounts to a romantic comedy in a mental institute does represent a challenge.

Park fails that challenge by turning his sets into a pastel playground and having actors perform mental illness like clowns in a circus.

Film festivals love directors on holidays, so "Cyborg" will see plenty of festival play dates. Outside of Asia, though, theatrical opportunities may be scant, although never underestimate a director's international fame in gaining exposure.

Lim Soo-jung, already a slender actress, lost even more weight to play an anorexic schizophrenic patient who does indeed think she is a cyborg. She carries a lunchbox filled with batteries, talks to the vending machine and refuses to eat in fear of gumming up her mechanical insides.

Drawn to her is a new patient, played by Park Il-soon, aka Rain, a major pop performer in Asia appearing in his first film after working in TV dramas. His character believes he can steal other people's traits and identities. Indeed he does, acquiring a yodeling ability so he might entertain his new girlfriend when she feels low.

The movie may actually sound intriguing, but Park shows a heavy hand with his actors, having them overdo every role by half. The characters may indeed have grown out of case books on mental disorders, as the filmmaker claims, but he never makes the comical, neo-science-fiction design of their confusions feel anything but fake. The environment itself becomes oppressive, not because it's a gloomy hospital but because it's a cartoon world where everything is forced and artificial.

The most interesting effect comes in the bullets that fire from Lim's fingertips in fantasy sequences where her cyborg mows down patients and staff. So even when the director aims for "Park Chan-wook Lite," he winds up with bullets and blood. Old habits die hard.


I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK
CJ Entertainment presents a Moho Film production

Credits:
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writers: Chung Seo-kyung, Park Chan-wook
Producer: Lee Tae-hun
Executive producer: Miky Lee
Director of photography: Chung Chung-hoon
Production designer: Ryu Seong-hie
Music: Hong Dae-sung, Hong Yoo-jin
Costume designer: Cho Sang-kyung
Editor: Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum

Cast:
Cha Young-goon: Lim Soo-jung
Park Il-soon: Jung Ji-hoon
Choi Seul-gi: Choi Hee-jin
Young goon's mother: Lee Young-nyeo
Grandmother: Sohn Young-soon

No MPAA rating, running time 105 minutes.

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