2009: Lost Memories (2002) - This movie focuses on its weaknesses rather than on its strengths - 7/10 (11/03/14)
"2009: Lost Memories" is a science-fiction-thriller inspired by the famous novel "Looking For An Epitaph" by Bok Geo-Il in 1987 even though the author didn't want to have anything to do with this adaption. One must keep in mind that the novel is more than twenty-five years and that the movie is already twelve years old as well because some things predicted in the plot are mildly amusing nowadays such as the potential reunification of North and South Korea in 2008. Many people argue that this film is too patriotic and that Koreans didn't get over the things the Japanese did to them during their invasion. Obviously, the film depicts Japanese as greedy megalomaniacs that have no respect for Korean culture. It would have been pleasant to see a few more sympathetic Japanese in this flick to give the movie a more open-minded approach. On one side, I can perfectly understand the greed many Asian peoples still feel towards the Japanese. On the other side, Korean and Japanese actors collaborate in this movie and show us that these nations can appreciate each other and perfectly work together nowadays. The reality is obviously not as dark as some government officials want to suggest us and it's a far call from this dystopian movie as well. I don't see this film as a propaganda movie or a political statement and one shouldn't analyze it all too much. It simply is a dystopian film settled in an alternate history where the failed assassination of a Japanese governor leads to a dramatic turn of events where the Japanese would win World War II and still occupy the Korean peninsula in the present.
The plot is obviously nothing really new but fans of dystopian science- fiction movies like "1984", "A Clockwork Orange", "Fahrenheit 451", "Soylent Green", "Rollerball", "Battle Royale", "Equilibrium", "V For Vendetta" and even "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent" should like some parts of this movie. In this film, a mysterious Korean resistance group called "Hureisenjin" steals museum artifacts to open a portal that should help them to travel back in time and change the course of Korean history back to normal. This radical group that is ready to sacrifice itself and the life of others to fight for Korean independence faces an institution called the Japanese Bureau of Investigation where two friends, a Korean and a Japanese cop, try to arrest them. The Korean cop denies and even despises his Korean culture as his father was a cop that betrayed the JBI and abandoned his family to help the "Hureisenjin". The investigation has personal issues for this cop and he soon starts to lose his tempers and his neutrality. When he is about to discover the fact that he is living a big lie in an alternative timeline and that the Japanese manipulated history to control the Korean peninsula, his Japanese superiors suspend him from the case. The Korean cop though continues his investigations that lead him to important historical events that took place in China and Russia. As he gets closer to the secret and is about to change his mind about his origins, he gets attacked by an assailant in his apartment. When his mentor gets killed instead and the cop survives, he gets blamed for the murder by his superiors and realizes that he is the victim of an incredible conspiracy. The cop seeks the help of the "Hureisenjin" and ends up being a key element in their quest to change history back to normal.
The story is intriguing enough to carry this movie but the acting is only of a good average quality. Some characters could have been depicted in a more profound way such as the Japanese cop and his wife or the mysterious female leader of the resistance group. I think that the movie should have focused on the difficult friendship between the Japanese and the Korean cop because this is by far the movie's strongest element. The weird visions and the strange connection between the main character and the female leader of the "Hureisenjin" are rather stereotypical, wooden and ultimately a letdown. Some parts of the movie are a little bit too melodramatic as well such as the slow motion scenes where a young boy gets killed during an assault. It seems to me that the movie focuses more on the predictable and supposedly tear-jerking elements instead of using its true strengths. I must also admit that the atmospheric first half of the movie around the investigation case is much more original and tense than the predictable and lengthy second half where all secrets are quickly revealed. It would have been more interesting to make an out-thought mini-series of this plot than a movie where the intriguing elements are cut off to focus on annoying mainstream passages.
Fans of dystopian movies and all those who are interested in Japanese and Korean cinema will still like many parts of this movie. It's not the masterpiece it could have been but still watchable enough to get entertained rather well. The promising elements in the first half of the plot definitely made me want to read the original novel in the end.« Deo Ge Im / The Devil's Game (2008) - Let's play a twisted game - 8/10 (09/03/14)Bereurlin / The Berlin File (2013) - Nothing more than a good average international conspiracy action-thriller - 7/10 (28/03/14) »
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