Strangely enough I have yet to get around to seeing Korean film director Jae-young Kwak’s neo classic ‘My Sassy Girl’. I actually have it available to view and was planning to watch it as I see an American version of the movie is available and I do like to see how these American remakes screw these things up, but still haven’t found the time to watch that movie. I have, however, found the time to the directors Romantic action Comedy, ‘Cyborg Girl’, which has to be one of the more unique romantic comedies I have seen. I don’t even like romcom’s all that much, but wouldn’t you know, I liked this one.
In late 2007 we meet Jiro (Keisuke Koide). Jiro is one of those lovable loser types and he narrates his story for us, telling us how he spends his birthday alone every year, buys himself a gift and has dinner at the same spot. While getting his gift this year he observes a strange, but very pretty girl (Haruka Ayase) who seems to be following him. She’s wearing some strange clothes and he observes her stealing some clothes to replace these odd duds and the next thing you know she’s sitting at dinner with him eating everything in sight, and then skipping out on the bill. The pair spend the rest of the night running from the cops, breaking windows and talking to each other about stuff with the girl suddenly disappearing, claiming that she’s a time traveler from the future and has to go back home. As Jiro would tell us, it was the best night of his life.
The next year on his birthday he walks these same streets hoping to see this strange beautiful woman once again, and at the same restaurant, here she is. A bit different in demeanor for some reason, but certainly the same woman. They have dinner, she sings happy birthday to him and then saves his life as an armed gunman shoots up the restaurant. Turns out this girl is a cybernetic organism. For the reasons why she’s here and hanging out with Jiro, it’s probably best that we let them inform you of this little tidbit of information. But here she is keeping Jiro out of trouble the best she can, playing superhero in her spare time, helping Jiro with his schoolwork, showing folks how to properly do The Robot at the club and just being an overall friend to a guy who can really use a friend.
At first, one of Jiro’s primary concerns with his 1000 pound, stiff, cybernetic protector was to see if she was biologically accurate, for obvious deviate reasons. However over time he begins to fall in love with this girl and he becomes frustrated as the Cyborg Girl seems incapable of returning those feelings. Not that she really cares because despite the stuff she’s been doing up to this point, she’s mainly here to do one thing, and since she’s not allowed to speak of the future I too will honor that request.
This film brought to mind an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation I saw… whoa, twenty years ago. Damn time flies. Anyway, this episode was titled ‘Offspring’ and it details Data’s ‘daughter’ he has created with her fatal flaw being her emotion and Data’s inability to return that emotion. Great episode. This film is similar in a sense because Kwak uses emotion to drive this film. The girls abundance of emotion when we first meet her, her curious lack of emotion the next time we see her, Jiro’s joy with the girl which turns to frustration and anger which then turns to regret. To that end Kwak coaxes a pair of wonderful and engaging performances out of his young lead actors. Koide plays the role of the lonely guy to near perfection, managing to be sad but never dropping his character into the realm of pathetic pity. With Ayase you have a woman who is so pretty that it’s often hard to take your eyes of her to read the subtitles beneath, unless of course you understand Japanese, but beauty aside she has the more difficult task of selling us on the fact that she is indeed a robot being who has to gradually becomes more human as time goes along, not to mention she has the added challenge of being an action star as well.
In addition to an accomplished script which was unique, smart and clever in most parts while still maintaining a healthy dose of familiarity to it, ‘Cyborg Girl’ also boast some impressive special effects when called upon and Kwak directs his film with surgeon like precision.
Now the movie does tend to get a bit melodramatic, particular when it comes to its conclusion, and this conclusion does seem to bit drawn out to me as it meanders about tying up loose ends in an effort to put a final happy face on what were seeing as a really, really bad situation. But those minor criticisms aside ‘Cyborg Girl’ was a winsome, serendipitous film filled with charm and wonder that blends in a few different genres, that comes out in the mix as melodramatic magic.