Had someone told me this morning I would be watching a Japanese movie that crosses Pretty Woman with The Terminator I’d have politely asked them what they were smoking. But here it is folks, a sci-fi romcom from the director of My Sassy Girl and Windstruck. It’s the over familiar story of a lonely young man that falls in love with an emotionless cyborg. Jiro (Keisuke Koide) is celebrating his birthday alone when he crosses paths with a mysterious young beauty, but after spending the evening together she vanishes without a trace.
Exactly one year later he returns to the same restaurant and the girl reappears to celebrate his twenty-first birthday. But something is different this year, as Jiro is quick to discover when an assassin starts shooting the place up. The woman of his dreams saves Jiro’s life, and this is the part where romance-weary boyfriends might want to take note; Cyborg She takes its sci-fi just as seriously as its romance. Which means Jae-young Kwak may have inadvertently created the perfect date movie. Action, romance, comedy and sci-fi, what’s not to love?
The opening act sets the scene in sassy style, first we meet a boy and then we meet a girl. Comedy is most definitely the order of the day here. The two leads are endearing enough and the scene is set for a romantic endeavour somewhere between Pretty Woman and Splash. Fortunately for anyone tired of tried and tested formula, Jae-young Kwak clearly wasn’t paying much attention in Romance 101. You can forget your regular dose of romantic notions and comedic cliché, Ja-young is more than happy to throw a spanner in the works. Not to mention the bolts and screws that keep the rusty innards together.
There’s nothing particularly new in what he does – some sequences are ripped straight from the heart of classic sci-fi – but the fact that it all takes place in a romcom universe means that what transpires feels remarkably fresh. It’s pretty damn brutal at times too, but then so is love, and the engaging lead turns stop it from straying off course. Definitely one for the ladies then, but lets not forget the laser beams, intense action, superhero trimmings and apocalyptic ending either. Modern girls are so much more demanding these days.
Keisuke Koide plays the naivety card well enough, even if – at times – Jiro seems a little too innocent for a twenty-year-old guy. Having said that, like me, you will find yourself wanting to spend the rest of the movie with him anyway. Haruka Ayase (Ichi) is asked to capture the essence of both human and cyborg, which is no easy task, but she pulls it off effortlessly and the chemistry between the two leads is electrifying. Quite literally in fact.
Touching on time travel, apocalyptic fallout and futuristic action ensures that Cyborg She is far more enticing then your typical Hollywood fare. The last twenty minutes tie up the loose ends but in truth, a little more time spent in the editing room could have made for a more comfortable fit. It’s an interesting diversion for sure, but for me the movie had already ended on a higher note. Besides, I was already breaking in my glass slippers when the final act descended.
Cyborg She is a refreshing change of pace for fans of both science fiction and happy ending Hollywood. We never dreamt the two genres would blend so effortlessly, but here we are, embracing a touching sci-fi for the softer side in all of us. The girls will love it and the guys can prove they’re not just soulless robots after all. Cyborg She really could be the perfect date movie. AW