I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006)

Rating: C+

Dir: Park Chan-wook
Star: Im Su-jeong, Rain, Choi Hie-jin, Lee Yong-nyeo

Not what you probably would expect from Park, who has made his name in vengeance- and blood-soaked psychological dramas. This is more of a romantic comedy than anything, though not without its share of squibs. Young-goon (Im) is sent to a mental hospital, convinced she is a cyborg, and must complete her mission to deliver a set of dentures to the grandmother who raised her. Being robotic, she doesn’t feel the need to eat, and is wasting away, when she comes to the attention of Il-Sun (Rain – that’s his pop-star name), another patient who is feared in the asylum, because the other inmates believe he can steal aspects of their personalities, such as their table-tennis skills. Young-goon wants him to remove things such as feeling sorry for others, which she feels is interfering with the completion of her mission, but awakens long-dormant emotions in the generally anti-social Il-Sun.

I can respect what Park is trying to do hear, and parts of this work wonderfully well: it totally buys into the various psychoses of the inhabitants at the asylum, who mesh with each other in a way that allows them to function, probably better than they would in the ‘normal’ world. This is particularly apparent in the two central characters, and its very sweet how they are portrayed, with a lot of sympathy. That said, while it’s nice to see a director trying to branch out, there’s a lot of this that just doesn’t work, notably a coda which is at best overlong, and at worst entirely unnecessary. Outside of that, it’s better off concentrating on Il-Sun and Young-goon, most notably a remarkable musical number which includes yodelling in Korean. There isn’t have the necessary evenness of hand, however, and you could justifiably describe this as all over the place. It seems that Park occasionally wants to go back to his more traditional fare, and things would probably be better for all concerned if he hadn’t.