Natural City DVD Review
Reviewed by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Tartan Video
Written and directed by Byung-chun Min
2003, Region 1 (NTSC), 114 Minutes, Rated R
DVD released on April 18th, 2006
It's 2080, and the world is filled with cyborgs that are more human than human. R and Noma are friends, and members of the MP's, a military squad whose job it is to regulate the robots. R goes off the deep end. He starts illegally selling black market cyborg parts and to top it all off, he falls in love with a cyborg stripper named Ria. She's got a built in 3 year life span, and it ends in 3 days. R will stop at nothing to keep her alive, even if it means selling out the MP's and losing his friend Noma.
It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?
Do the storyline and screen shots look like something out of Blade Runner? While the movie has an original plot, it is as if it was dropped right in the middle of Los Angeles, 2019. In fact, there are more than the obvious parallels, including their version of the 'off world colonies' and the Tyrell Corp. This is not necessarily bad. The story and characters are interesting enough to stand on their own, and the movie is very well done. It is also not the first time an Asian film has used a US film as inspiration.
For the most part, the special effects are done well and the movie is beautiful to watch. It also makes an attempt to bring the science back to Science Fiction, something that has been sorely lacking in US Sci-Fi films for years. Not that the movie lacks action, it brings on the bullets and does not let up until the very end.
Some of the acting is not that great. Lead Ji Tae Yoo is a cardboard cutout, and Rin Seo plays Ria the cyborg as an inanimate appliance. There is no charisma there, and it's hard to see why Ria would want anything to do with her. However, the rest of the cast, inclduing Chan Yoon as the duty bound Noma and Jae-un Lee as the hooker innocently entangled in everything, are very believable.
Natural City is a welcome addition to the Sci-Fi / Action genre, and is worth your attention.
Video and Audio:
The picture quality is competent, considering that almost every scene is either digitized or done on a green screen. At some times this is obvious, other times it is not. All in all, it's done fairly well, although the movie gets very soft at some points to help mask the effects. Most people will happy with it, but videophiles may find it lacking.
Natural City comes with both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks in the original Korean language. Both are crisp and clear, but not very inspired. This is an action movie, yet the surround speakers are rarely used.
The Natural City DVD contains quite a few extra features. There are deleted scenes, cast interviews, traielrs, and a short called, "The Story of Natural City." The deleted scenes and short are definitely worth a watch, while the interviews are hit and miss.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, Pioneer 815 7.1 receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)