Story: Jiro (Keisuke Koide) celebrates his birthday, alone, like every year, only that this time he meets a young
girl with whom he spends an adventurous evening. After the two have said their farewells, Jiro never sees her again.
That is for one year, because then he suddenly meets the girl (Haruka Ayase) again. However, this time she seems a bit
colder and stiffer. But that shouldn't be a surprise since she tells Jiro that she is a cyborg from the future, who was
sent back in time by her creator, the future Jiro, in order to prevent some certain future accidents from happening to
Jiro. Moreover, a three-dimensional projection of the old Jiro tells the younger one that the cyborg may behave like
a roboter, but is programmed to take on human traits. Therefore, it is now Jiro's task to give his new friend a soul.
While he starts to develop more and more feelings towards the cyborg, who saves his life on several occasions, the
cyborg still doesn't really know what to make out of feelings. Still, Jiro's new friend starts to behave more human-like
each day and so the two spend a nice time together, until one day a gigantic tragedy hits them, which even the cyborg
seems to be helpless to deal with...
Review: What would happen if director Kwak Jae-Young would take one of the fantasy-loaden screenplay suggestions
of his heroine in "My Sassy Girl" and wanted to make a movie out of it? Without a doubt, it would lead to this great
Sci-Fi romantic comedy. Parallels to "Terminator" are quite obvious, even to that degree that you have to take them as
a homage, and this assumption is supported by the fact that the cyborg calls itself a "Cyberdyne Model 103". But
apparently Kwak was also inspired by "A.I." or Park Chan-wook's "I'm a Cyborg but that's ok". However, why did Kwak
shoot his movie in Japan, even though he is a native Korean? Maybe because he thought that his off-beat genre mix and the
wacky humor would get a better reception in Japan than in his home country? Or because it was easier for him to get
the money (even though Korean prodction companies have contributed, also) to put his ambitious and special
effects-filled ideas onto screen? It's hard to tell, maybe it's also because his movie "Windstruck" flopped in
Korea, yet was pretty successful in Japan. It would be easy to imagine "Cyborg Girl" being a Korean film at some points,
especially the colorful pictures support this, but the movie also creates its very own unique charm, the sort of which
maybe is more typical for a Japanese movie. Nevertheless, Kwak Jae-young's signature is apparent at any time.
With his sort of special character, because somehow he is a loser and a freak, Keisuke Koide takes on the role of Cha Tae-hyun from "My Sassy Girl". Keisuke ("Linda, Linda, Linda", "Heavenly Forest"), however, also succeeds in adding his own share of peculiarities. Therefore he fills his role perfectly, even if looked at in a more thorough manner you would have to note that a little bit more character depth wouldn't had been bad.
Let's get to the actual star of the movie: Haruka Ayase. I had seen her somewhere before and her perfect body measures actually should have given me the final hint. Haruka is an actress-turned model, but she already had some experience in acting and also singing before this movie. I can't say much about her vocal talents, even though her "Happy Birthday" in the film doesn't sound bad at all, but as an actress she does a good job. As a cyborg she convinces with an adequate stiff and cold portrayal, whereas we can see some more human traits shine through the more the movie progresses. Later on, without wanting to spoil anything, she proves that she is also capable of handling the emotional scenes quite well.
Haruka Ayase also seems to be pretty athletic and she can dance, too. What else did you expect, of course she is asked at a disco if she can do the "robot". Naturally, she can... However, Haruka doesn't only prove that she knows how to move, but there are also a lot of scenes in which she has to stand on a spot motionless without even batting an eyelid. She manages just perfectly to combine the indefeasibility of a robot with a certain kind of warmth, so that she can win over the viewer in no time. It certainly doesn't hurt that she is cute as a button...
But now enough raving about Haruka Ayase, the reason why the film works out so well is director Kwak Jae-young's creative way to tell his story. Of course he wrote the script himself and it's almost overflowing with wacky and at times sophisticated moments. Naturally, it also would be easy to blame him for putting too much into his script, but the sci-fi framework along with the time-travelling story gives his love tale an epic scale and more than anything else that special something which isn't easily to be found in such movies nowadays.
What's sticking out the most is the humour, of course. There are some scenes, which humor strongly reminds us of "My Sassy Girl", making fans of that film feel just at home in an instant. At other times, though, it's simply the visual adaption of the jokes that will make you laugh out loud. Having a cyborg as a (girl-)friend gives you complete new possibilities when it comes to comedy, and director Kwak doesn't miss any opportunity. The scene that will stick to you the most is the one in which the cyborg drinks some alcohol, whereafter it seems that some electric hardware is fusing. And of course men still are just men which is why Jiro has to ask her, if she is capable of doing "it". The cyborg answers such questions or attempts of Jiro to get a glance at what's under her skirt with brute force, and no one really wants to get slapped by a cyborg that's ten times stronger than a human...
At first "Cyborg Girl" is a candy-like comedy, during the beginning of the second half there is a wonderful, dreamy part when Jiro visits the village where he spent his childhood days, and the last part of the movie is more tragic, including some tears that the viewer is allowed to shed. But everything is held together by the beautiful sci-fi story and a nice romantic tale.
Kwak Jae-young inserts some fascinating story twists and knows how to surprise the viewer. However, I won't go into details and talk about what time paradoxes Kwak didn't think of when writing the movie, because as always in films with such a premise there are countless logic gaps, which nonetheless isn't something the viewer should care about. Anyway, more than anything else there is a very surprising catastrophe or a short glance at the future that can make your eyes pop out, since there has been spent an impressive amount of money for CGI-effects, so that the pictures really can leave an impression. Only towards the end Kwak gets in danger of losing himself in cheesiness as he often does. Still, contrary to his "My Mighty Princess" he luckily can avoid this mistake, even though just by inches, so that you can enjoy the movie without having to endure a bitter taste.
The supporting characters are also very amusing, whereas Naoto Takenaka ("Waterboys", "Swing Girls") as a Baseball-loving professor who likes to throw chalk at his students when they fall asleep or talk remains the most memorable. It's small details like this character or also the warm soundtrack, that are quite enriching for the movie.
The wonderful ideas, the great humor, which can make you laugh out loud, the sci-fi story, but most of all the romantic tale make "Cyborg Girl" a very special movie experience. The film might have some flaws typical for Kwak, but I gladly will overlook them, because it has been a long time since a romantic comedy could move and entertain me as much as this one!