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2009: Lost Memories - Movie Poster
Original Title:
2009 Loseuteu Maemorijeu

South Korea 2002

Sci-Fi, Action, Drama

Lee Si-myeong

Jang Dong-gun
Tôru Nakamura
Seo Jin-ho
Shin Goo
Cheon Ho-jin
Ahn Kil-Kang
Jo Sang-geon
Kim Eung-soo

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2009: Lost Memories

Story: 2009: Japan has become an ally of America during World War II and therefore wasn't forced to release occupied Korea into independence again. Nowadays almost no Korean is interested in his nation's origin, instead everyone regards the country as a United Japan. Only a small terror organisation under the name Hureisenjin is fighting for the country's independence. Masayuki Sakamoto (Jang Dong-gun) and Shojiro Saigo (Tôru Nakamura) work for the JBI, the Japanese Bureau of Investigation, and Sakamato has a special interest in putting a stop to the Hureisenjin's game since his father worked for them as a corrupt policeman and Sakamoto now wants to restore his family's honor. Eventually, the agent finds out that the Hureisenjin are apparently zeroing in on an artefact that the Inoue Foundation has exhibited. A connection to an old case is found which involved another artefact by the Inoue Foundation the terrorists wanted to steal. When Sakamoto turns his questions towards the Foundation he suddenly becomes the victim of a conspiracy. What objects do the Hureisenjin really pursue and why has Sakamoto constantly visions of a woman who reminds him of Hye-Rin (Seo Jin-ho), a member of the terror organisation?

Review: There are movies you somehow want to like but you still can't. "2009: Lost Memories" is such a case. Never averse to watching a good science fiction story expectations were high, but not too high, after all South Korea - in fact this is a co-production with Japan and the plot even demands of the dialogues to be in Japanese 80% of the time - doesn't have the same budget as Hollywood might have at hand. But particularly concerning the story an abyss opens up. But that's not all. The assets of this action film and its weaknesses aren't lying too far apart. Seldomly the line "Where there is light, there is shadow" has been more true in regards to a film than here. At the bottom line this is an entertaining action flick, no doubt about it, but it still can't be recommended unreservedly. To list the reasons for that will probably require the whole rest of this review.

2009: Lost Memories - Film Screenshot 11

First off, the action. The introduction is instantly captivating and delivers adrenaline-loaden shootouts the kind of you know from good old 80s and 90s flicks, with the difference that there is a science fiction look to everything thanks to the cool equipment of the JBI. The environment is seriously affected by the bullets, glas gets broken and terrorists as well as policemen are going down by the dozens. "2009" also shows a realistic amount of violence which is what makes the movie look more gritty all in all. But even concerning the well directed action sequences, which are also scattered well throughout the film and are pretty long, there are some things to complain about. Every now and then the events are shown with only half the usual framerate. That's irritating. Even worse are the action film clichés, though, which you might have thought had been eradicated twenty years ago.

2009: Lost Memories - Film Screenshot 12

The protagonist, played with the necessary charm by Jang Dong-gun ("My Way", "The Coast Guard"), and his partner are apparently completely invincible. Without giving it a thought they rush into a hail of bullets numerous times and are the only ones not getting hit in those gunfights. Sakamoto just needs to scream angrily to mow down more enemies than all of his comrade-in-arms together. Oh yeah, the screaming. You probably could turn this into a good drinking game, that's just how often someone fires all over the place while screaming wildly - only to meet his maker shortly afterwards himself. Also, the body count makes any old Schwarzenegger movie look like a child's birthday party. Furthermore, there are also some very emotional scenes in the midst of those shootouts, in which Sakamoto sheds some tears sitting right in the crossfire without being hit by a single bullet. Oh, I already mentioned that bullets steer clear of him...

"2009" scores with an outstanding soundtrack by Lee Dong-jun, who also proved with his contributions to "Shiri" and later on "Taegukgi" that he is the man when it comes to epic soundtracks. Unfortunately, the director is very well aware of the soundtrack being one of the movie's assets and eventually makes use of it too often and distinctively, so that some scenes even drift into the ridiculously emotional. But that's also the fault of the story being crammed with drama elements. In a movie with such a gritty touch as "2009" a lot of people die, no surprise here, but making them look like a scene out of a drama show when it comes to the demise of every (semi-)important individual is completely unneeded. Sometimes those scenes work out, at others they don't. But sadly you will mainly remember latter ones in the end.

2009: Lost Memories - Film Screenshot 13

Last but not least, the story. I won't waste any time going into the time traveling aspect. No other subject deserves more care when dealing with it in order to avoid plot holes - no one gave it some real thought here. And this even though the groundwork is very interesting. This shouldn't surprise as the story of the movie is based on a novel by Bok Geo-il, who sued the filmmakers to have his name removed from the credits, which should give an idea of how thoughtless betrayal, coldblooded killers in the shape of federal agents, friends that become enemies (though being implemented clumsily this part still works out the best) and an implied love story are mixed together with an alternative reality and time traveling. At the end it's as if you had several fluids that won't mix and remained different layers in a drink. The action is nice and other parts can be fun, too, but as a whole "2009: Lost Memories" is far from what it could have been.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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