Friday, 1 July 2016

Natural City (2003)

This movie can pretty much be summed up in three words, and those words are "Korean Blade Runner".  The film isn't shy about its inspiration, either: there's not just a strong similarity in the basic premise, but several scenes and sets are very strongly evocative of the Ridley Scott film.

In the dystopic future humanity's numbers have dwindled and the shortfall has been made up by the creation of synthetics.  These artificial humanoids have a lifespan of only about three years, but are otherwise pretty much indistinguishable from human beings.  They are, however, considerably stronger and tougher, making synthetic criminals especially dangerous.

The strangely-named R is part of an elite police unit charged with deal with such criminals.  He's also passionately in love with Ria, a synthetic who is nearing the end of her three year lifecycle.  This romance has already led him into some corrupt activities, such as selling licenses for synthetics 'independently', and thus it's only a step or two more out of line for him to consider the offer he is about to receive from one Dr Giro.

Giro, it seems, has found a human woman in whom Ria's electronic brain could be implanted.  This would allow Ria to live a full human lifespan with R.  All R has to do is bring the young woman to Giro.

Replacing a person's consciousness with another one sounds a lot like murder to me, but R's already shown himself to be rather morally flexible, and he agrees to the plan.  There are only two things standing in his way.  The first is his police partner, Numo.  The second is the very real possibility that Giro has plans he hasn't shared with R.

This film certainly delivers on the visual front, and die-hard cyberpunk fans may well find something to like.  For the rest of us though, I think the plot is a bit too muddled and the action scenes a bit too similar to one another to truly engage the audience.

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