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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 1 March 2009
Natural City is an interesting science fiction film from the prolific and talented Korean film industry. The story has hints of Bladerunner as deviant cyborgs run amok and are combated by teams of military police reminiscent of of a SWAT unit. The film is also a police procedural with a tangled plot; an area that Koreans have exceled in producing over the past view years like the Public Enemy series.

There is a recursive nature to this film's relationship with Bladerunner. Ridley Scott's Bladerunner played at being Asian with its Japanese soundtrack and synthesis of a Kowloon night market.

It is interesting to see how the Koreans reinvented these concepts for Natural City. One thing I really like is the way they merge the old and the new in the film, giving an amazingly rich experience for a film that couldn't have been made on a Hollywood budget.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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.
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on 12 February 2012
it doesn't provide such a coherent story, nor really deliver a believable feel to the relationships of the key players. Enjoyable - certainly, entertaining - thumbs up, well produced, cast with great scenery - no complaints. But what it really does lack is just that better acting, caricaturisation and pace to draw you more fully into the story, but well worth a watch.
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Korea has been making some good movies in the last years like Oldboy and Brotherhood (Tae Guk Gi) and this is one more.

Comparison to Bladerunner is inevitable and in some ways it can be considered a sequel. It is set into the dark future where mankind is split into those that have and have not. It doesn't describe things into detail but there is plenty to be had if you keep your eyes open, like the heroine Cyon isn't a citizen. Cyborgs are part of every day life and have a limited lifespan and start to malfunction and the cyborgs are always easiy identifiable by being just a bit unnatural. One of the main characters "R" is in love with a cyborg "Ria" but he is part of an elite military police tasked with hunting down renegade cyborgs. The action scenes are terrific, the cyborgs becoming vampire like superbeings and there are a few twists here and there to make the plot interesting. The best part of the story is how R is courted by a young woman Cyon but he doesn't see her for his love is for the cyborg Ria. Background to the dark times ahead is well done and the only drawback was I found the crime part of the plot become week and not entirely satisfactory. Cyborg-human interaction in a dark future, great visuals, scenery and combat scenes.

I would recommend it, but keep in mind that Korean cinema is diffrent in some ways form American and European movies, the background music is sometimes strange and even at times to my tastes plain wrong and the focus of the story is at times odd. But with an open mind this can even add to the experience.
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It's almost impossible to discuss Natural City without making reference to Blade Runner - there are similarities not only with the concept, but also with the world created to harness the plot. It's a grim future set in a city which is choked by buildings and a population which seems to chug along with a feeling of claustrophobia. Androids exist along with humans, they are high-tech but function as traditional robots in the sense that they fill the more menial roles - they serve in restaurants and dance to entertain in gentlemen's establishments.

The cyborgs only last for a few years though before they shutdown - and this creates a problem for R, a man who falls in love with a cyborg called Ria - and he spends the film trying to find a long term solution for their seemingly doomed relationship. This should give the film a strong emotional element to draw you in, but Natural City seems to almost ignore this and it never really hits as hard as it should. It's a shame that this plot device is underused - the film could have had a depth which turned this action flick into a modern classic.

There are numerous other plotlines too, but again they are introduced with little consideration as to what they actually add to the film. They could have developed the characters and saved the film from being 2-dimensional, but it never happens. The central love story seems so unemotional that you find yourself not really caring what happens.

In a nutshell: Natural City starts with great promise and you feel certain that along with the visuals you will enjoy a satisfying sci-fi film which will stimulate the mind as well as your eyes. But the elements are introduced and aren't exploited - it's a pity because with a bit more thought this could have been a truly excellent film. Instead it's a sci-fi film which looks the part but ultimately feels a bit empty.
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on 16 October 2013
In 1921 we got Metropolis, in 1982 we got Blade Runner, in 1995 we got Ghost in the Shell, and in 2002 we got Natural City. This movie shares traits with other films like Blade Runner and Ghost in the shell. A visually impressive piece, with a strong emphasis on relationships.

In the year 2080, the world is connected by a massive computer network. Combiners have developed a process that allows them to merge the souls of human and machine/cyborg, wreaking havoc in a deeply divided society. A former MP agent "R" (Ji-tae Yu) has fallen in love with a cyborg doll Ria (Rin Seo) who has only 3 days to live, to save her "R" must a human body to replace hers and then she can live forever. The Human body that match Rias body belongs to a prostitute Cyon (Jae-un Lee) who also happen to have an affection for "R". Meanwhile and MP agent Noma (Chang Yun) need "R"s help to track down a dangerous combat cyborg Cyper (Doo-hong Jung), what "R" doesn't know is by helping Ria he could jeopardise the future of mankind.

Natural City is an epic story telling futuristic action with romance and heart break.

The acting is really well melted into their parts, the big score I give to is Jae-un Lee as Cyon, she really perform that role so heart feeling that you cant help falling in love with her, also Cyon is an interesting character and maybe she also show how the life is as a prostitute yet despite her lifestyle she allways find a way to keep her spirit up and she is so cool and can speak for herself but also inside her she also has a heart for example in one scene (SPOILER ALERT) when R reveal why he tried to take to a clinic is to use her body to save his Robot doll and then he finish the scene with the most hurtful line ever: "I needed your body to save my beautiful Ria, I figured you wouldn't mind, you're selling your body anyway" and then you see in her eyes how she feels and that always touch my heart every time I see it. And this whole touch you by the heart plus with great action to entertain.

Verdict? A must see
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VINE VOICEon 1 March 2009
Natural City is an interesting science fiction film from the prolific and talented Korean film industry. The story has hints of Bladerunner as deviant cyborgs run amok and are combated by teams of military police reminiscent of of a SWAT unit. The film is also a police procedural with a tangled plot; an area that Koreans have exceled in producing over the past view years like the Public Enemy series.

There is a recursive nature to this film's relationship with Bladerunner. Ridley Scott's Bladerunner played at being Asian with its Japanese soundtrack and synthesis of a Kowloon night market.

It is interesting to see how the Koreans reinvented these concepts for Natural City. One thing I really like is the way they merge the old and the new in the film, giving an amazingly rich experience for a film that couldn't have been made on a Hollywood budget.
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VINE VOICEon 27 May 2008
Cyborgs are domestic appliances in this science fiction film. One military policeman who brings in rogue cyborgs called R has fallen in love with the one he owns and is looking for a way to save her, as she will soon reach her best by date.

The story begins by talking about what R is willing to do to save his cyborg lover, even though it compromises his professional standing and threatens his moral standing too. His downward spiral has further reaching effects though, than just wrecking his career and potentially the life of a young woman who could be the answer to saving his lover.

It's a great little film that manages to raise philosophical questions, even as it features some nice action sequences as well. The design is pretty good as well with some lovely special effects. The characters are likeable and understandable in their motivations, even down to the bit parts like the Head of the Military Police's assistant. The acting is rather good as well.

I can recommend this film as something a bit cerebral but with a good quota of martial arts and gunplay to keep the story moving.
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on 20 April 2013
I've seen several superb Korean films and decided to give this one a try. Had read that it was in the style of Blade Runner but in all honesty there is no comparison in my opinion. This is a s--l--o--w film with unconvincing storyline and characters and only a few short bits of attention grabbing action. I admit a film is a personal experience for each viewer but forget Blade Runner if you settle down to watch this one or you'll be even more disappointed tyan necessary.
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on 1 February 2008
Well, I can say that if you want a relentless action film, then this is not the film for you.

However, if you want a love story and what it makes people do, then this is the film for you.

Ths film is amazing as it illustrates really well just how far one person is going to go to save the woman he loves.

There is action in this film and really good effects, with acting and a story a lot better than a lot of Hollywood blockbusters.

Give it a try.
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