Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho’s latest film Jung_E is already airing, but should you check it out?
After the one-two hit of squid game Y we are all dead blew up on Netflix in late 2021 or early 2022, it was clear that global audiences wanted more Korean content than ever before. According to a press release this week from Netflix about their K-Content 2023, they claim that 60% of all members watched Korean titles last year..
In that same release, they showcased 34 upcoming titles this year on the largest list of Korean movies and series ever.
Of those 34 titles, Netflix will expand its previous film offering with six Korean films, starting with the new sci-fi thriller, JUNG_Efrom the director of Train To Busan & Peninsula, Yeon Sang-ho.
The film portrays a desolate Earth in the 22nd century that is no longer habitable due to climate change. In the midst of the chaos, an internal war breaks out in the shelter built for human survival. Victory, meaning the end of the war, now depends on finding a way to clone the legendary mercenary JUNG_E into a scalable robot.
With this story, writer/director yeon sang ho tries to portray a unique theme combined with dystopia, cloning and technology. “I wanted to produce an action movie that raises questions about artificial intelligence and that viewers can relate to at the same time,” he said in a behind-the-scenes of the film’s Making Of video, “I hope it’s a movie that makes viewers think if humanity only belongs to humans.”
Coming off his successful Netflix series creation Infernal at the end of 2021, Yeon Sang-ho recruited two of his Infernal stars, kim hyun joo (Jung_E) & Ryu Kyung-soo (sang hoon), to lead the small ensemble together soyi park like young Seohyun and kang soo-yeon as the adult version of Seohyun’s team leader.
tragically, Kang Soo-yeon died unexpectedly in May after collapsing from a brain hemorrhage.
While Yeon Sang-ho has created hit movies and series in the past, his success was largely due to frenetic, fantastical builds that allow him to flex his strongest muscle in stunt work and action scenes. With this movie, he removes a lot of that in lieu of a toned-down examination of AI and experimentation. He relies on the script and his performances to carry the film over the show for which he is best known.
However, that’s where the movie fails. Since its strengths come mostly from the action that closes the story, most of the film is built around the agonizingly slow process of mapping a combat AI program from the brain of the team leader’s legendary mercenary mother into a laboratory full of painfully boring. or awkwardly unfunny characters.
Director Sang-Hoon’s character is sometimes unbearable in his over-the-top aggression towards his fellow lab workers or pathetic attempts at humor that happen all too often.
The movie tries to explain his behavior at times, but it doesn’t help the audience deal with his antics in real time. I wouldn’t be surprised if many turned the movie off at the beginning because of her character.
The emotional connection between team leader Seohyun and what’s left of her mother and her legacy is the only thing that holds the film together. However, I feel like they should have done a bit more to cultivate that relationship in flashbacks or early scenes before we meet Seohyun as an adult to cement what these repetitive tests are doing to Seohyun’s psyche and why she has such strong motives for it. as the movie progresses. towards its conclusion.
Some of the early reviews of the film mentioned the production design and visual effects as strengths of the film, but I would say that they were very inconsistent. The action scenes had strong fight choreography and visual effects movement on the robots and the lab itself was well built; however, many scenes outside of the lab felt like cutscenes from modern video games with very little depth or substance to make you feel immersed in this dystopian version of our way of life.
The film’s real strength comes too late in the form of the last 20 minutes. An escape sequence fueled by several well-constructed fight scenes and the emotional tension between «mother» and daughter are the best this movie has to offer.
Without spoiling the movie itself though, I question the impact of the conclusion itself.
Yeon Sang-ho’s statement about making «viewers think if humanity only belongs to humans» comes to the fore as the freedom of an AI that barely has the brain mapping of a previous human is examined in the final scenes. . Yeon seems to want to have it both ways, as it allows for an emotional ending with the memory-based mother-daughter pairing between them long ago AND gives the Robot AI a fresh start, supposedly after wiping the daughter out of his brain. Those two are in direct conflict at a crucial point in the film and don’t allow for philosophical musings on the outcome. It’s just confusing.
Overall, if you can stomach the laborious middle act filled with emotionless lab work and poor attempts at humor, then the payoff for the film’s final act might just give you enough satisfaction to keep your thirst for quality Netflix K content intact.
Note before watching JUNG_E on Netflix
Do not use the dubbed version of this movie.
The voiceover performances are brutally overacted compared to their Korean counterparts. You should watch the original Korean movie with English subtitles. You can thank me later.
Watch JUNG_E if you like
- Train to Busan
- I’m a mother
JUNG_E MVP on Netflix
Kang Soo-yeon as Team Seohyun’s leader.
As the heart and soul of the film, Kang Soo-yeon brings depth to a mostly thin story. He can do more with a longing look than many of the characters around her. Often called Korea’s first global star, Kang Soon-yeon shows why she was such an acclaimed star in her home country. May she rest in peace.
PLAY, PAUSE OR STOP?
With some quality action around its edges and enough heart at the center of its central characters, it might be possible to overcome its glaring shortcomings.
You looked JUNG_E on netflix? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.