Ever wonder how and what we can affect in our past, present and future? Let’s see, now what if James Cameron’s “The Terminator” had a strong theme of a love story in it? Sounds stupid doesn’t it? Well, director Kwak Jae-Young’s “Cyborg She” (aka. Cyborg Girl, 2008) made in collaboration with Japanese filmmakers is one effective romantic sci-fi film that is endearing, charming and quite good. Trust me, I HATE romantic comedies but this film totally took me by surprise. Many are a bit confused that “Cyborg She” is a remake/re-imagining of Park Chan-Wook’s “I’m a Cyborg But That’s Ok”…and that’s ok. Both films do have similarities and themes but they are not connected at all in any intentional way.
Jiro (Koide Koisuke) is a nerdish working student who meets a mysterious, beautiful young woman (bikini model Haruka Ayase, Ichi) on his birthday in November, 2007. The two spend the evening together and before the night is over, she leaves for the night; leaving Jiro to reminisce about her for an entire year. One year later, Jiro meets his mysterious dream girl once again to find out that she is the “Cyberdyne Model 103” sent back by Jiro himself from the future to avert a tragedy that paralyses him. The two form a strange bond as Jiro slowly begins to develop feelings for his synthetic companion. (Who can blame Jiro since this cyborg is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen!) She also becomes a minor “secret” celebrity as she uses her tech-enhanced powers to stop certain disasters before they happen. Jiro’s happiness may well be short-lived as things begin to unravel that reveal his friend’s true purpose.
“Cyborg She” or “Cyborg Girl” is one film that borrows heavily from themes established by “The Terminator” and “The Back to the Future” movies. The results are mixed, and truth be told, its science of time travel may be a little too unexplored. However, director Kwak Jae-Young’s style of storytelling is very energetic, witty, charming and unpredictable. The man is in familiar territory as he is the same director who directed the Korean blockbuster hit “My Sassy Girl”. The man avoids the usual stereotypical trappings of a romantic comedy and focuses instead on sci-fi elements and time travel mythos. Kwak’s inventive touches at humor and superb storytelling techniques are evident in the film as he serves up a satisfyingly fun film.
Now this is a Japanese film so expect a touch of certain thought-provoking themes such as heart and soul. The Cyborg herself is a learning computer and in time, it will develop its human characteristics. Just what makes a human? Is it the way we were born or the way we live and experience life. According to Kwak, our actions and experiences are what makes us human; the question is: Is it because of mere programming or is does a machine develop a soul? Besides this, “Cyborg She” establishes its own science in the laws of time travel. It may become a bit difficult to follow as the story unravels but not to worry, Kwak manages to explain everything and puts it all together in the end. This thematic film successfully sidesteps the clichés of romantic comedies and manages to give the viewer quite a few surprises. Sure, it borrows from movies such as “Ghost In the Shell”, “A.I.” and “The Terminator” but the storytelling is solid enough that I was quite pleased with its execution.
The visual effects are also quite impressive. I loved the scenes of the earthquake set to destroy Tokyo. You can literally feel the city breaking apart and the scenes were able to express the fear and the loss after such a disaster. The scenes whenever the Cyborg utilizes her superhuman abilities are also top notch. The film has mild displays of violence and blood but none so graphic that may turn off mainstream watchers. The time travel effects resemble those seen in Hollywood movies made of similar nature.
Now, I may be giving the impression that the film has its bleakness to it but it merely serves as a balance to the film’s endearing nature. There are quite a lot of scenes that I found genuinely amusing that I almost laughed myself silly. I loved the scenes when she eats, accidentally gets drunk and frightens Jiro’s professor. The way Haruka Ayase just exudes that innocence much like a child and warm charisma even though she is playing a cyborg. Oh, she even does the “robot” dance moves when she finds herself in a club with Jiro. Ayase is definitely able to create a likeable, stiff artificial being. The love story between her and Jiro does start off simply enough, in an awkward fashion but their controlled performances give viability to their romance. Koide Koisuke is also charming as the nerdy Jiro, in a manner that is definitely Otaku/anime-like. The film is largely a success because of its performers.
Much as I hate romantic comedies, “Cyborg She” is a wild blend of action, sci-fi fantasy elements and inventive humor that will undoubtedly charm its way to its viewers’ heart and will manage to surprise its viewers. The viewer is given time to form an attachment to its attractive leading lady and invest in the romance that develops between the two leads. The loopy time travel thing may be a little hard to follow, but I know enough about the physics of time travel to buy into what the film is trying to say. Some folks may nit-pick its time travel mythos but this is not what the film is all about. It is about experiences that affect the past, present and the future or that the past, the present and the future affect each other. It is a love that transcends time.
Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]
The Malaysian Release sports an impressive 1.78 ratio anamorphic widescreen transfer with great 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS soundtrack. The subtitles are very good.
Out of the three movies in the loosely based series written by Jae-young Kwak, this was my least favorite, which accounts for the slightly lower rating. Don't get me wrong; there is nothing bad about this movie, but compared to Windstruck and My Sassy Girl, it couldn't compete. The story was predictable and wasn't as original or surprising. It also didn't induce me to the same emotional states as Kwak's other films did. The hero of the story … more
Cyborg She (lit. "My Girlfriend is a Cyborg") is a 2008 Japanese film by Kwak Jae-yongstarring Haruka Ayase and Keisuke Koide.
It is November the 22nd, 2007. Jirou Kitamura (Keisuke Koide) is spending his 20th birthday alone. As he is buying a birthday present for himself in a department store, he catches sight of a 'cute girl' (Haruka Ayase). The girl, who also seems interested in him, follows him to a restaurant for his birthday meal, during which she suddenly states that it's 'her birthday too'. The two of them therefore exchange birthday presents. The girl, who seems unused to things as they are, behaves and speaks in a very bold manner- so much so that she rushes Jirou out of the restaurant without paying and provokes a chase after them throughout Tokyo. As the hijinks ensue, Jirou finds himself charmed by the girl. Unfortunately, after a few hours, the girl insists that she has to leave. After some mysterious words to him, she runs away, leaving him bemused.
The story then moves forward to November the 22nd, 2008. Exactly one year later, Jirou is celebrating his 21st birthday by himself in the same restaurant he ate in with the mysterious girl. All of a sudden, a girl who is the spitting image of her appears in front of him. This girl, however, has been sent to save him from a disastrous fate by a crippled future version of himself- she is, as his future self describes her, a cyborg modeled after the girl he met a year ago. Thus ...