Natural City

Starring: Ji-Tae Yoo, Jae-Eun Lee and Chan Yoon
Optimum Asia
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 23 August 2004

In a future society where cyborgs who look like real people can be owned, the city's police security force are on the trail of Cyon, a rogue cyborg who is very powerful and extremely dangerous. Meanwhile 'R', a reliable and respected member of the security force is giving his chief cause for concern. 'R' has fallen in love with the pleasure cyborg Ria (colloquially called Dolls by the media) and purchases her from a nightclub owner near the end of her three-year life expectancy. With the aid of a black market doctor/scientist he attempts to find a way to prolong her life. Unfortunately, this involves the use of a young woman from the streets, whose DNA structure is a near match, and he is caught between protecting a human life and saving his beloved. However, 'R' hasn't bargained for Cyon's own agenda involving the same woman...

This is a difficult one to read. It tries to be many things simultaneously, but fails to significantly be any one of them. Imagine a live-action Manga attempt at Blade Runner and you won't be too far away. There is the same mix of slums, street life and futuristic settings, with roving advertisements. There are many Manga-like fight sequences incorporating intermittent slow-motion reminiscent of The Matrix.

Natural City doesn't have the class of these influences, and it fails severely on an emotional level. Frankly, you just don't care about anyone in the movie. The most curious thing involves the dialogue; is it the fault of the screenplay or the translation to English subtitles that make the speech so unrealistic? Sometimes it feels like you're caught up in a pantomime rather than a film, with dialogue like "Duck", "Up above, now behind!" "Move!" and swear words which just appear funny because they don't appear to be in any context.

For those who might enjoy Natural City the extras are fairly good. There's a Making Of..., a Location Tour with the director, and three deleted scenes. If you're curious about this one, my advice would be rent, don't buy.

Ty Power

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