2009: Lost Memories
Director: Lee Si-myung
I really enjoyed this film for about the first
two-thirds and then it decided to hit the stupid button for the remainder
of the film. Till then it had a very intriguing premise, good action scenes,
a mystery cocooned within a buddy sci-fi time travel thriller - and then
it decided to go full Hollywood. Cliché follows cliché like
ducks at a shooting gallery. I sort of winced with each one because it could
have gotten to where it wanted to go without them. Still overall its a big-budget
thriller with loads of action, some moments of real emotion and the type
of alternative history plot that I really like. Every choice you make has
ramifications that you can't foresee - people you save on this side but people
who die or don't even exist on the other side. I can't imagine this was very
popular in Japan, but the kind of Korean nationalistic film that can
rack up at the box-office at home. Odd though that this was a co-production
between those two countries and much of it is in Japanese.
In this alternative history, the USA and Japan became allies in the 1930's,
invaded Manchuria together, nuked Berlin and now Japan rules over Korea.
There is a small armed Korean rebellion (KRA) but the security group, JBI,
is constantly going after them, whittling them down. Most of the JBI are
Japanese but one highly touted agent, Sakamoto (Jang Dong-gun) is Korean
and partnered up with his Japanese friend Saigo (Tôru Nakamura). The
KRA takes over a fancy soiree at an exhibition of Korean artifacts and they
are all killed by the JBI. Sakamoto can't figure out what the purpose was
- they demanded nothing, killed no hostages - but were willing to die. Why?
He digs deeper and discovers there have been similar attacks and it all points
to a huge Japanese corporation. The deeper he digs the more mysterious it
gets but it draws attention to him and as the Korean in the group he is expendable
and friendship only goes so far.
All this is very good but once he sort of gets close to an answer the film
falls apart - big jumps that make no sense - how did he get from JBI Hq.
with a gun shot wound to the bar with everyone looking for him? How did he
get on the ship? Why was the answer to his quest out in public instead of
buried 50 stories down in a vault? How does another guy with a gut shot get
to the assassination scene at the same time he does? The director is just
assuming that by this time we don't care about logic or huge plot holes.
The final shot of the photo in the film is a total head scratcher. But if
you are willing to turn off your brain for about 30 minutes, this is pretty