‘Jung_E’ Review: Come For The Intense Sci-Fi Action, Stay For The Heartbreaking Mother-Daughter Drama | DMT

Yeon Sang-ho garnered widespread acclaim with the 2011 animated film “The King of Pigs” and the 2013 film titled “The Fake.” But after the release of “Train to Busan”, the man essentially became a household name. Because it brought a new surge of energy and soulfulness to the zombie horror subgenre, especially at a time when such a thing seemed impossible, it was not only on many people’s “best movies of the year” lists. best movies of all time” lists. So, that naturally came with a certain set of expectations. When they didn’t meet in “Seoul Station”, “Psychokinesis” and “Peninsula”, it seemed that everyone was ready to write it off. However, anyone who tunes in to “InfernalHe knew he hadn’t lost his touch. And “Jung_E” is proof of that because he made me cry three times with his beautiful combination of sci-fi action and mother-daughter drama.

Written and directed by Yeon Sang-ho, “Jung_E” takes place in a future where rising sea levels caused by rapid climate change have made Earth habitable. So, humans have moved into space by building shelters between the Earth and the Moon’s orbital planes, and people have been moved to their various sections. But at some point, a trio of those sectors labeled themselves Adrian’s Republic and launched a full-scale attack on Earth and the havens. That forced humans to face two atrocities, one the climate crisis and the other this man-made war. However, in the process, the Allied Forces discovered an almost unbeatable mercenary named Jung_E (Kim Hyun-joo) and decided to use her abilities and skills to replicate more soldiers like her. The people in charge of making this combat AI are team leader Yoon Seo-hyun (the late Kang Soo-yeon) and director Kim Sang-Hoon (Ryu Kyung-soo). And they are trying tooth and nail to give the project a green light by running brutal training simulations on Jung_E.

I’m going to be blatantly honest here: “Jung_E” is criminally deceitful. Going by the trailers, I stupidly expected this to be a standard sci-fi movie with a lot of action. Nothing more and nothing less. And then Yeon Sang-ho hit me with a sea of ​​emotions as he revealed that, aside from being a high-octane action movie, it’s a pretty intense and heartbreaking mother-daughter drama. Because Jung_E is not just a legendary mercenary, she is the mother of Yoon Seo-hyun, who basically sacrificed her body, soul, image, memories and everything that makes her a person for a private weapons manufacturing company to cure cancer. from her daughter. Since Yoon was never able to say goodbye to her properly and has to live with the fact that her mother’s last memory is a failed mission, she wants this project to be a success so that Jung_E is respected again and she herself gets some kind of closure. . However, to get to that stage, Yoon has to watch her mother die over and over again while her superiors treat Jung_E like an action figure. It’s devastating!

To make matters even more heartbreaking, Yeon Sang-ho delves into the themes of classism, the lies sold in the name of idolizing heroes, the status of soldiers who fight for us, the innate desire in humans to dehumanize. all that is. t human, and the immorality that comes with technology and power. There’s a moment in “Jung_E” that’s so painfully real because she says that even after a woman has achieved the highest possible honor, men will find a way to demean her legacy. Jung_E’s simple image of a toy becomes so loaded with subtext that it’s probably impossible to look at any figurine, coin, or street that has been erected to “pay respect” to someone legendary. Yeon Sang-ho recontextualizes a practice that has been going on for generations without any protest because we’ve been told to think that commodifying a person’s image is a mark of reverence. It may be for some. However, those who are producing these facsimiles are there for the money and the perversion that goes with it.

Moving on to action, it’s pretty fantastic. Should we be witnessing this on our small screen because Netflix doesn’t want to release a big, bombastic movie like “Jung_E” on the big screen? Not absolutely not. Do we have a choice? Also, no, absolutely not. But thanks to the work of Yeon Sang-ho, his action directing team, cinematographer Yoo Ji-sun, production designer Lee Mok-won, editor Yan Jinmo, VFX supervisor Jung Hwang-soo, the SFX supervisor Park Kyoung-soo, the sound design teams, and all the amazing VFX and CGI artists, you’re completely caught up in it. Yes, there are some janky moments. However, the positives outweigh the negatives by a mile. And when you’re fighting your tear ducts, which are in overdrive from all the heart-wrenching drama, then you start to ignore any minor visual effects issues. Speaking of visuals, “Jung_E” feels like a brilliant successor to both “Blade Runner 2049” and “Edge of Tomorrow”. I know those two are not at all similar in terms of style. Yet Yeon Sang-ho strikes this balance between poignant moments of self-reflection and kinetic, fiery, mech-charged action.

Kim Hyun-Joo, as the titular Jung_E, is great. In most of it, his role is limited to recreating his final mission. He’s a physically demanding role and, with a little help from his stunt double, he masters those action sets. But when we get to the flashbacks, and she remembers the promise she made to her daughter, Kim allows us to process all the feelings we’ve been projecting onto her because of her backstory. Ryu Kyung-soo is purposefully annoying and hilarious at the same time. However, after a certain revelation, you start to feel sorry for him and hope that his character will be killed in the most brutal way possible. He could have treated Sang-Hoon like your typical mustache-twisting forgettable villain. Instead, he marinates the layers of the character and delivers a memorable performance. With that being said, the star of the film is the late Kang Soo-yeon. Her calm tolerance of her personal and professional obstacles hits you in the feels. And as Yoon becomes more and more desperate, Kang’s emotional range expands until he is overwhelming. It’s a brilliant final act and I’ll champion it all year.

There’s a chance that since a great movie was released so early in the year, by the time we get to the end, many of us will forget about it. I for one will not let that happen. And the first step to make it possible is to strongly urge you to watch “Jung_E”. It is frighteningly close to the reality we live in, not only in terms of technological advances but also in terms of ethical degradation. Governments, private organizations, social media platforms, etc. have turned living humans into data points that can be used or discarded. Although we say we have evolved, the value of human life is probably at an all time low because capitalism, the widening economic gap, and rampant political oppression have reduced us to a minor statistic. And the thought of fighting all of that can seem daunting. However, if we limit ourselves to preserving the memory, legacy and future of our loved ones, the fight may seem a little more doable. That’s what Yeon Sang-ho’s latest sci-fi drama is all about, and that’s why it’s already one of the best movies of 2023.

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