If you haven’t heard of acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-Wook, then you’re missing out. His films are known to be highly controversial, yet stunning and jaw dropping at the same time. If you are someone who loves unusual and inspiring films like myself then you may just enjoy this one.
I’m A Cyborg (or the Korean name: Saibogeujiman Gwaenchanha) was released in the UK of April this year, and I have had it on my bookshelf since the first week that it came out. Unwatched and untouched. The main reason was my skepticism and somewhat biased opinions of his other works. After watching Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, I had extremely high hopes of his newest film I’m A Cyborg. I did some research a few weeks before i actually bought it and heard that it was NOTHING like his previous films. And after the first sequence I got that completely.
The story focuses upon Young-Goon, a slightly pretty (the film doesn’t do the actress justice at all) young woman with a big problem. She believes that she is a cyborg. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and Schizophrenia running in the family, which triggers her belief in her robotic self. Her grandmother also believed that she was something she wasn’t. A mouse. She did nothing but spend her time eating pickled radish and telling her granddaughter that the mice that were in their shed might be her brothers and sisters.
Throughout the film we see flashbacks which explain more about Young-Goon’s grandmother, and the way that she was before her admittance to a home, and also how the rest of the family dealt with her strange obsession. This gives the audience a slight insight of how Young-Goon is in the current part of the film. In a mental institution, she spends her days trying to “recharge” herself and try to find out the purpose of her life.
Straight away she meets an unusual boy, Il-sun, who has also been admitted into the hospital over his schizophrenic anti-social personality. As their friendship blossoms Young-Goon refuses to eat, and slowly her health deteriorates, with her only believing that she needs a “recharge” to be ok. But that isn’t the case. After Young-Goon is given shock therapy to try and get her to eat again, she has hallucinations about killing all of the “white-un’s” (hospital staff) for taking her grandmother away from her in the first place.
After many attempts of trying to get his new friend to eat, Il-sun creates the ‘Rice-Megatron’, a device that he pretends to install into Young-Goon’s back that will turn food into electrical energy, so that she can recharge and survive. In reality and her imagination.
Well, after watching this film, and keeping a very open mind, I really enjoyed it. There is a massive difference between this and Chan-Wook’s other works, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The end result of the film gave me a slightly warm feeling inside, which none of the director’s other films have done. Looking at it from an unbiased point of view, some may look at this film as a slightly strange an possibly unappealing storyline, that can boggle the mind at times. But if you give it a chance, you may discover a lovely film that will have you smiling towards the end.
One of the best parts of the film, in my opinion is Young-Goon’s remake of the christmas carol ‘Silent Night’. As in her mind it becomes ‘Silent Rice’. And you can pretty much guess what the rest of the lyrics are like from that.