Jung_E (정이) – Movie Review

TL;DR – It sets up an interesting conundrum about a world of combat AIs and then revels the story.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

Many Jung_E's in a row.

Jung_E Review

We are thankfully back at the point where there are multiple new films every week. While this is great, it leads to the problem of trying to find which one of the many you take the time to watch? Well, when you hear that the creator behind Train to Busan has a new film out, that choice becomes quite easy.

So to set the scene, it is the far future of 2194, where humanity has wrecked the planet, and after climate change leads to drastic sea level rises, most humans escape to shelters built near the Luna orbit. With those left on Earth working in the factories. But this respite would not last as some banded together to create the Adrian Republic waging a decades-long war against The Allied Force. Everyone is trying to find a way to win the battle before humanity is wiped out, and for Yoon Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-youn), that weapon is the cloned android of a great leader of the past Jung_E (Kim Hyun-joo), or as she knows her as, mum.

Jung_E bleeding silver blood.
One of Jung_E’s strengths is the action scenes. Image Credit: Netflix.

The key strength of this film is its action sequences, which are not as numerous as you would have thought going in. There is a weird little clunkiness in how all the combat robots move, but it is a style that works with the tone the film is going for. Add to this the physicality of Kang Soo-yeon and the curvature of a ringworld ripped apart by conflict, and you have a compelling reason to watch this film. I liked the little nod to I-Robot that we saw during one of the sequences, and how many of the robots have grappling hooks.  

What I was not expecting, but it was nice to discover, is that this film is primarily a meditation on a relationship between a mother and daughter that transcends death. Seo-hyun is trying to create a combat AI and a system where her mother survives the mission that left her incapacitated. The love of a mother for her daughter, the obsessive drive of a daughter to protect her mother’s legacy. This relationship is the film’s emotional core, and I am glad it was there. All of this is helped because Jung_E is filled with these narrative moments that make you feel like everything just shifted under the character’s feet.  

Sang-Hoon looks at a painting of the Chairman.
Not all the tone choices in this film work. Image Credit: Netflix.

While some Korean films delve into class in a very in-your-face way, like the recent Parasite and Okja or other films in this genre like Elysium, Jung_E explores class more subtly [before you leave a comment, both are valid narrative techniques]. What rights do you have when they can copy your brain? Where the rich can live forever with full human rights, but the poor might have to give up every part of their humanity. These questions are built upon by the story and the worldbuilding, a society built on the ruins of another while a war rages on in the heavens. There is a slow reveal of the logical progression as to where this all leads   

The film enraptured me as it went through its story. However, some moments did pull me out of the narrative. The character of Sang-Hoon (Ryu Kyung-soo) is very frustrating, deliberately frustrating, but still. I did feel like they were holding back in some aspects of worldbuilding, and I think other films in this genre have nailed it a bit better. Finally, and [SPOILERS], I understand the bait and switch from what was presented in the opening, but it felt like all that did was leave many unnecessarily unanswered questions.   

Yoon Seo-hyun looks at her mother.
At its core, this is a film about a mother and a daughter, and when it focusses on that, it is grand. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend Jung_E? Yes, we would. There are some rough edges here and there. However, the core relationship was solid, and the intense action scenes make this a film to check out. It is a great sadness that we won’t see Kang Soo-youn in another movie because she gives her all here. If you liked Jung_E we would recommend to you Space Sweepers.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Jung_E?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Jung_E
Directed by
– Yeon Sang-ho
Written by –Yeon Sang-ho
Music by – Kim Dong-wook
Cinematography by – Yoo Ji-sun
Edited by – Yang Jinmo
Production/Distribution Companies – Climax Studio & Netflix
Starring – Kang Soo-youn, Kim Hyun-joo, Ryu Kyung-soo, Um Jee-won, Park So-yi, Lee Dong-hee, Han Woo-yul, Yun Ki-chang, Lee Ga-kyung, Shin Min-jae, Na Ho-sook, Do Yong-gu, Hong Suk-bin, Jeon Jung-il & Lee Hyun-kyun
Rating – Australia: M;

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