Saturday 21 January 2023

REVIEW: JUNG_E (정이) - Starring Kang Soo-yeon, Kim Hyun-joo and Ryu Kyung-soo

Review by Jon Donnis
It is not often I review films that I actually wanted to see and was looking forward to seeing for a while, but Jung_E is one of those rare exceptions. I enjoy Korean cinema, and I love a good sci-fi film, so right here we have something that includes both.

Worth noting that Jung_E features the final film appearance of Kang Soo-yeon who passed away before release. Also I refer to the "Ardian Republic" below, but on the subtitles, it showed as Adrian Republic, but online it says Ardian, so I am a little confused.

In the 22nd century, Earth has become uninhabitable due to climate change, forcing humans to live in man-made shelters built in space. As they settle in around 80 of these shelters, three, No. 8, 12, and 13, form the Ardian Republic and begin attacking other shelters, leading to a civil war between the Allied Forces and the Ardian Republic.

Captain Yun Jung-yi (Kim Hyun-joo) is a legendary mercenary for the Allied Forces who leads her team on many successful missions against the Ardian Republic. She has a daughter, Yun Seo-hyun (played by Park So-yi as a child), who suffers from a lung tumor, which motivates Jung-yi to become a mercenary and fight in the war. On the day of Seo-hyun's surgery, Jung-yi goes on one final mission and fails, falling into a coma. Her family, led by her mother, is convinced by the Kronoid Institute, the organization in charge of developing AI technologies, to allow them to clone Jung-yi's brain. They promise to cover the cost of Jung-yi's treatment, Seo-hyun's education, and living expenses.

35 years later, in 2194, Kronoid uses the cloned brain to create an AI mercenary called JUNG_E. Dr. Yun Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-yeon ), now grown-up and Jung-yi's daughter, leads the research team for JUNG_E with the goal of making Jung-yi a hero rather than a failure in history.

What follows is an interesting story not just about AI and robots, but also about a mothers love, humanity and evolution. The visual effects are excellent, and although there are a few dodgy moments, in general everything looks and moves great. The fight scenes are convincing, even when 100% CGI, and the characters are believable. Especially Kang Soo-yeon, in what was her final film. She delivers the majority of the emotion in the film, especially in the final scene.

The Good
Excellent sci-fi action film, an interesting and original story. Believable visual effects / CGI. And a strong performance by Kang Soo-yeon, as well as Kim Hyun-joo as JUNG_E. The ending is satisfying believable within the parametres of the story.

The Bad
As mentioned above, there are a few dodgy CGI moments, not a lot, but they are noticable. I watched in the original Korean language, as I found the English dubbing to not be the best, so if you don't mind subtitles, then watch with the original language.

A very well made sci-fi film, with a good story, strong performances and at 93 minutes it has the almost perfect run time.

I recommend JUNG_E, and score it a strong 8.5/10

Out now on Netflix.