LOST MEMORIES (2002-KOREA)
review by Neo
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Films can easily go wrong with mega-budgets, just take a look at Hollywood – think about Alexander, Pearl Harbour or even War of the Worlds. With bigger budget, no matter which the director is, the movie is automatically going to be hyped up meaning that expectations are high. Therefore, it is utterly important to hit the right marks and score with a broad scale of audience by filming a movie that is not just commercial, but a good average story and the most important of all – emotional depth. That is why 2009 Lost Memories is more like Batman Begins, than Pearl Harbour. An emotionally surprising second half brings depth to the characters and also shedding a few tears along the way – a true Korean style movie. That’s the magical feeling of watching this kind of movies, and to make someone like Neo feeling teary – no matter how manipulative the movie or the music is, the movie can’t be bad at all. While this time, the tears do not compensate due to romantic moments like My Sassy Girl, it is more tending towards patriotism and heroism – sacrificing their lives for a cause.
The movie goes like this: It is the year A.D. 2009 when Seoul has become the third major city of Japan. Sakamoto (starring Jang Dong-Gun) takes after his father and becomes a cop. He has forgotten his heritage as a Chosun (Korean), sharing a close friendship with his partner, Saigo (starring Nakamura Toru) and pledging his allegiance to the Japanese Empire. Meanwhile, a minority of Chosuns creates an underground resistance organization called "Hureisenjin" (Chosun Liberation Confederation) to fight against Japan. The empirical authorities suspect a huge conspiracy behind the activities of the confederation and assign Sakamoto and Saigo to the case. This eventually takes Sakamoto to the fateful meeting with Oh Hae-Rin, the Chosun woman he may have seen in his dreams. Utterly confused by the series of events he encounters, Sakamoto is confronted with the incredible historical truth he was never aware of before...
While, this can easily be dismissed as yet another mega budget Korean movie that only have emotional depth, there is something like an edge to it, that makes this slightly different to all those sci-fiction failure attempts on going back in time. The reason why 2009 is so damn successful is not because of the story line, but rather a mind-blowing and heart-felt finally 30 minutes, leading up to a satisfying finale – marking a sign of relief and the making of a hell of a great movie. The cast is outstanding for any commercial flick and the Korean girl plays her paper thin role and turns it into a character actually worth remembering. While the two male leads give out a performance that is emotionally resonance and their steer presence covered up a number of plot holes that would have been obvious without the over the top emotional impact.
2009 Lost Memories, is not a movie about lost memories (well it might be slightly), but a movie that deals with tried and true principles of sci-fiction, typical Korean film-making and big budget that actually works. While movie is by no means a masterpiece, it is a movie that is not only worth watching, but one that is worth thinking and feeling the emotional journey about. The first half is a step slower, but if you get through that part, the second half brings you into some sort of emotional inferno ride. It takes you on emotionally one unexpected moments after another and that’s got to be something. While, the movie is slightly thin on plot, it is definitely made up for due to its brilliant emotional score and dramatic impact on the audience that is most likely to feel for the characters than actually is distance to it. All in all, 2009, is by no means, a smart or brilliant movie, but rather one that shower you – full on with emotional tears, and for a bloody sci-fiction flick or even action movie, it is damn rare and a damn rare ride that is emotionally worth taking.
I rate it 9.5/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Director: Lee Si Meong
Cast: Jang Dong Gun | Nakamura Toru | Lee Si Meong
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), July 2005