Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I make it no secret that I love the films coming out of South Korea, as these cats combine the quality of the best Hollywood has to offer with stories, plots and progressions that Hollywood movies left behind a long time ago.  How refreshing it is to actually see a filmmaker take a chance with a subject, instead of regurgitating it from the ‘standard plot machine’.  With Joon-Ho Bong’s monster movie ‘The Host’ making my top ten list for 2006 and Chan Woo Park’s ‘Old Boy’ listed as one my favorite movies of all-time, I greatly admire what’s coming out of the land of the morning calm.  That being said, I’m not quite sure these guys have got a grip on  science fiction genre quite yet.  With the truly hideous and nonsensical ‘Dream of a Warrior’, then the blade themed, but only slightly better ‘Natural City’, Korean Sci-Fi has been lackluster at best.  ‘2009: Lost Memories’ had it’s moments and actually worked better as a history lesson than as a good sci-fi movie and now we have Yuen-su Jeon’s ‘Yesterday’ which here takes it’s place as a slickly done, well made, pretty to look at mess of a Sci-Fi movie.

It’s the year 2020 and police detective Seok (Seong-woo Kim) is engaged in a complex assault to find this mysterious serial killer who has kidnapped his son.  Well, it all ends very badly for detective Seok who now spends his days with the blood of his only child on his hands.  One year later, Police profiler and college Professor Hui-Su (Yunjin Kim) is on her way to the city to give a speech on the pathology of serial killers on the invite of her father, the commissioner of police.  Even though she is rapidly losing her memory, to the point she can’t remember what she had for dinner the night before, she manages to perform her speech all from memory, which would mean that she’s probably not suffering from memory loss I would think.  A note about

actress Yunjin Kim, I was watching the dubbed version, which I almost never do, but I was trying to eat and was too lazy to read subtitles.  Kim’s character gives the seminar in English with Korean subtitles, so I got back to title menu and switch to Korean with English subs to hear her speak English in her own voice.  Whether it be English or Korean, Yunjin Kim has absolutely the deepest, sweetest and sexiest voice that these ears have had the privileged to hear.  Considering that the woman speaks the English language better than most native born American’s why oh why didn’t they just have her do her own voice over?

Anyways, at the seminar her police commissioner father is kidnapped and held ransom for about four thousand bucks.  Detective Souk smartly figures out that these individuals aren’t out for loot and have some other agenda.  It would seem that there is an unstoppable killer out there named Goliath (Min-su Choi) who is killing certain people linked to a government project, a project that also that included professor Hui-Su and Detective Souk, who also suffers from memory loss.  Why this is happening and what exactly is the deal with these murders?  I’m afraid you’re going to have to watch it yourself my friend.

You’re gonna have to watch it yourself because quite frankly, I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on in this confusing techno psychobabble mess of a movie.  I would seriously litter this review with spoilers if only I knew what they were.  Mind you, the film ran a little over two hours, so they had plenty of time to fill in the audience a little bit about what was going on, but no, Director Yeun chose confusion over clarity.  From what I could tell, the whole thing stems from some kind of wacky cloning experiment back in like 1990, but again, they were very vague in what exactly took place and what they were trying to accomplish with the experiments in the first place.  Another thing, is everybody in early 21st century Korea (It’s been reunified by the way) on Valium or something.  The performance by every single actor in the film was so subdued and understated that it had to be by design, but to what effect, I couldn’t tell you.  Car chases, kidnappings, mass murders, finding out you’re a clone… nothing makes these characters jump up and get upset, or happy, or horny or nothing!

It’s not that it didn’t try.  The movie has a slick ultra modern look, the special effects were better than average, the Goliath character pretty much kills everybody in the whole movie, I mean, this character has probably killed more people with his bare hands than any one character has killed in any movie ever.  But alas, despite the gunfights, killings and car chases, ‘Yesterday’ still manages to be a tedious bore.  I don’t even know why it had to take place in the future other than it had a few futuristic gadgets, it could have very well taken place in 1998.

Still, this movie cannot sour me on the greatness of a lot of the films coming out of South Korea, and I would guess it’s just a matter of time until those guys figure out Sci-Fi as well and begin turning out masterpieces in that genre as well.  ‘Yesterday’, though, most certainly isn’t it.

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