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South Korea invades "Blade Runner". Heavy casualties on both sides!
on 25 November 2013
Having seen numerous very good South Korean films I decided to give a try to this 2003 science-fiction movie - and I was only partially satisfied. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.
"Natural City" is without a slightest doubt a quasi remake of the famous - and much better - "Blade Runner". The story takes place in a dystopian megalopolis (but no, this is not Los Angeles) and the year is 2080 (rather than 2019). The main "hero" is a certain "R" (instead of Rick Deckard) and he is a specialised policeman charged with tracking and killing rogue androids - for some reason those guys are called MPs, rather than being simply called "blade runners". Androids, called usually "dolls" (rather than "replicants"), are quite numerous on Earth and some of them rebel and take to the hills (metaphorically speaking). For that reason their "life" is always limited to three years.
Or "R" is in love with a dancing "doll" called Ria and she is nearing her expiration date. In desperation "R" contacts a shady character called Doctor Giro, who makes all kind of illegal things for the criminal underground, including escaped androids - maybe this very strange man knows how to override Ria's time-encoded "death switch"? In the meantime, "R" is also part of a large effort by all the MPs to locate and terminate Cyper-N77, a particularly advanced and dangerous combat android who deserted and vanished without a trace...
That is the basis for the whole film and many more things will happen before it ends - at one moment a spunky street wise girl named Cyon, who lives on the margin of the society in the worst of the slums, will also play an important part.
It is not exactly a bad film, but it is definitely mostly an attempted imitation of "Blade Runner", with just some more action scenes - but it is considerably inferior to this Ridley Scott masterpiece. There are many unnecessary lengths, the film is surprisingly slow, the main "hero" is a rather pathetic and not very likeable guy, there is virtually no humour and last but not least, the story is greatly confused - at some moments I couldn't exactly follow the plot and I didn't really feel motivated to go back and view once again the previous scenes to better understand. Also, at the end, rather than being moved, I was actually rather relieved that it was over.
Bottom line, this film has for strong points two Oriental beauties playing Ria and Cyon, some good visions of the futuristic dystopian megalopolis, a couple of good action scenes and a serious sex-appeal for all the cyberpunk afficionados - the bad points, well, it is most of the rest. For my personal taste this is a film watchable once - I don't think I will keep the DVD.