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Blu-ray Review

I'm a Cyborg
(aka Saibogujiman Kwenchana)


Starring: Lim Su-Jeong and Rain
Tartan Asia Extreme
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 May 2008

Young-goon is admitted to a mental institution. Believing herself a cyborg, she charges herself with a transistor radio. She encounters II-sun a fellow inmate who believes he can steal other people's traits, and convinced he's gradually fading away to become a dot. When Young-goon refuses to eat, living off a diet of batteries, he decides it's his job to get her on her feet again...

I'm a Cyborg (or I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK to give it its full title, or Saibogujiman Kwenchana to give it its original language title) is a South Korean movie written and directed by Park Chan-wook (Joint Security Area, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). This is a romantic comedy of sorts, and is a dramatic change in pace for the director.

Not everyone would have been able to pull this off - this is not exactly Chan-wook's genre - but thankfully what we end up with is a very funny and touching movie.

At the start of the film the viewer is never really certain as to whether Young-goon is a cyborg, or just plain mad - like her grandmother (who believed that she had several offspring that were mice, and was finally carted off the the nuthouse when she refused to eat nothing but radishes). But, as the movie progresses, it soon comes clear whether this world is in Young-goon's head or not.

There are lots of very amusing little touches - from the new seven deadly sins, to the bizarre scene with Young-goon's grandmother, who is tethered to a large length of elastic - that help to ensure that almost every scene has something of interest lurking somewhere in the frame. In fact, the first time Young-goon is admitted to the hospital, it's the strange goings on in the background that grab your attention - from the guy who looks like he's walking up a very steep hill, to the patient rolling around on the floor.

When we are introduced to II-sun he is wearing a strange mask (variations of which he periodically wears throughout the movie) which I assume added to the mystery on the movie's Korean release as Rain, who plays the character, is a famous pop star.

Extras include an interview with the director (1hr 2 mins in which Chan-wook reveals that the idea for this movie came partly from a dream he had - all though his dream was a little more adult in content); Making of featurette (7 min 50 sec which is not really a making of feature at all. It's really just a collection of behind the camera recordings of several of the movie's scenes); Music Video (3 min, 41 sec); and two trailers.

Unlike previous Tartan Blu-ray releases (Old Boy, Black Book, The Seventh Seal), Tartan has now ceased including the original DVD in with the Blu-ray release - which is a shame because this was a great way to increase sales of the Blu-ray format. This way those movie fans that know they will be buying a Blu-ray player in the near future could still buy the Blu-ray edition and watch the DVD disc on their DVD player.

My only two complaints are that firstly, you don't really get anything extra on the Blu-ray disc that you don't get on the DVD, other than a DTS track, and secondly - and this is something I have a problem with on a lot of Blu-ray releases - why on earth is the menu text so small? It's almost impossible to read on an average size TV set.

But, if you ignore those minor grumbles, you should find this a refreshing breath of fresh air from a director not known for this style of film.


Darren Rea

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