South Korea | Korean
2022 | 143 Minutes
Director: Choi Dong-hoon
Cast: Ryu Joon-yeol, Kim Woo-bin, Kim Tae-ri, So Ji-sub
Director Choi Dong-hoon’s newest film, Alienoid, couldn’t fit the Fantasia audience any more perfectly.
In medieval Korea, in the final days of the Goryeo Dynasty, two Taoist warrior-mystics—clumsy swordsman Mureuk and gunslinging Lee Ahn—strive to gain possession of a legendary holy sword. In modern times, a long-hidden secret—that extraterrestrials have been locking up alien prisoners inside living human bodies—threatens to explode into the open, causing serious problems for the enigmatic Guard and determined police detective Moon Do-seok. When a portal in time is torn open between the two moments, chaos erupts in a whirlwind of blades, bullets, brute force, and arcane fury!
With many original concepts, Alienoid is wild ride with a lot of great action sequences throughout. Picture, if you will, a wire fu film (kung fu meets wire work) like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon mixed with portions of Back To The Future, aliens – and guns. Alienoid blends all these functions together to create something truly unique. Time-traveling to combat an invasive alien species. Picture a period piece, that also has robots, cars and pistols.
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Alienoid is the first half of the epic new two-parter from writer/director Choi Dong-hoon – with the second instalment due out sometime next year.
One thing I feel could have been better, was the CGI on the alien characters. They really looked cheap – not quite as awful as the zombies from I Am Legend but along those lines. Which is to say they looked bad. Maybe the budget just wasn’t there, but the rest of the film is stunningly gorgeous. Strangely enough, the rest of the computer-generated segments look good – including the robots.
The wire work feels fluid and never out of place. Characters frequently soar up onto window ledges or roof tops but there is never a feeling that this sort of thing shouldn’t be occurring. Obviously, gravity suggests such things aren’t exactly possible, but yet it seems realistic enough. The added element of the “thunder”, or bullets fired out of a handgun, works so well. In any other segment, a gun would be par for the course, but to enter it into a time piece works so well.
There are a lot of funny moments here as well. Some playing the time traveling card, such as a character from the future giving the one-finger salute to people from the past, resulting in confusion perhaps being my favorite moment in the movie. Other times, the film relies on slapstick of sight gags, all of which got a positive reaction from the large Fantasia crowd. Anytime you can make seven hundred people collectively laugh is a triumph.
For actor Kim Woo-bin, Alienoid is perhaps a tad more special – as it signifies his return to the silver screen after a six year absence during which he battled illness. In 2017, Kim Woo-bin was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer – a rare type of cancer that affects the part of the throat connecting the back of the nose to the back of the mouth. Now, at 33 years old, Kim Woo-bin has been pronounced free of cancer, and is eager to return to work.
With so many great films at this years Fantasia festival, saying that Alienoid is one of the stand-out films should give you an idea as to how good it is.