JUNG_E (2023)

JUNG_E (2023)

2023 98 Minutes

Science Fiction | Action | Adventure

On an uninhabitable 22nd-century Earth, the outcome of a civil war hinges on cloning the brain of an elite soldier to create a robot mercenary.

Overall Rating

5 / 10
Verdict: So-So

User Review

  • d_riptide


    5 / 10
    “JUNG_E” surprised me as much as it stifled me with its “emotional heft” and given this came from the writer and director of freaking Train to Busan, I don’t know if that’s a detriment or something to praise.

    With the most utmost confidence, I can say the action sequences are solid all around with fluid choreography to back it up and a convincing execution. It is fairly paced with vivid cinematography and editing that makes the most out of the limited production design, with two standout set-pieces near the end. By the way, I’m flabbergasted at the CGI; it doesn’t rip away the immersion of where you’re at or what’s happening and the visual effects’ uncanny valley actually works in its favor. And of course, there’s fairly decent acting throughout with Ryu Kyung-soo, Kim Hyun-joo and the late Kang Soo-yeon being the only standouts.

    Take a guess what this story is about: It presents the drama revolving around a dystopian future where technology is used in unethical ways to serve big corporation and military complex purposes. I will say it excels at showing what the future would look like if the advancements in technology lead us away from our humanity piece by piece but more often than not, the glue that holds these types of stories together are it’s themes and characters. There’s an attempt to delve into interesting ethical ideas regarding economic inequity and of course, how prolonged complicated grief in what we value makes us more machine than anything else but repetition and staleness unfortunately is the biggest issue that chips away at most of this story’s armor plating.

    Yeon Sang-Ho’s ability to fuse family melodrama and stifling class structure through a South-Korean filter has proven impeccable even as his direction misplaces that ambition here in the certain places that don’t belong.

    The mother-daughter relationship is the primary focus, but the narrative had an opportunity to delve further beyond that; going into more detail about the fate of this futuristic society; world-building and characterization that should have been more fleshed out merely felt cold and empty so when the story replays the same scenes or plot points again and again, it gets a little tiresome despite the intentions. Look, the plot actually does have some traction if you pay super close attention but any time it intends to be emotional, it doesn’t resonate all the way through, partially because the storyline feels incomplete and superficial but mostly because the characters themselves are stiff.

    Don’t forget about the runtime that, honestly, is too short for how ambitious it wants to be. Forgettable music, so-so costumes, uneven tone transitioning and a drab color palette is also fairly disappointing.

    A visually competent production with a narratively muddled premise and execution, the emotional heft this film looks for is stuck running in place with inert precision and stagnant accuracy.