Plot: Imagine the world and age that you live in unfolding under slightly different circumstances - what would life be like if our familiar history took a different route? In 1909, Japanese dignitary Ito Hirobumi was assassinated in the city of Hardin, triggering a wave a Nationalist pride and defiance. The Japanese then used the assassination as an excuse to annex Korea and brutally crush the resistance until the end of the Second World War, when the axis defeat forced the return of Korea to self-rule. Only that didn't happen, because someone shot the assassin first. Instead of fighting each other, Japan and the United States have teamed with one another to bring down Hitler during World War II - and instead of bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Enola Gay flew its fateful mission over Berlin, effectively bringing an end to the Nazi reign of terror. When a terrorist attack unleashes destruction upon a museum housing a collection of priceless ancient artifacts, J.B.I. Agent Masayuki Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun) discovers an underground band of freedom fighters willing to pay the ultimate price to acquire the mythical 'Lunar Soul.' As the mystery comes into light and Sakamoto discovers that everything he has ever known could be little more than a complex illusion, political intrigue and speculative science fiction combine to bring viewers one of the most compelling and original fantasy films that South Korea has to offer.
«The director, Lee Simyung, in collaboration with Lee Sanghak, has written a screenplay that leaps unexpectedly from action thriller to science-fiction drama without losing sight of the humanity beneath the nationalism. The result is an impressive, if too long, first feature that is likely to raise Japanese hackles and Korean spirits in roughly equal proportion.»
«There is a cost of entry to understanding 2009: Lost Memories. It helps if you recognize the difference between Japanese and Korean Characters. Japanese characters are pictoral in nature, whereas Korean characters look like boxes, half-boxes (L-shaped characters) and circles. This is significant especially at the beginning. The other important element is to know which language they are speaking. Sakamoto is Korean, whereas his partner, Saigo Shojirou is Japanese. The importance and meaning of the scenes is often given away when they switch over to speaking Korean (most of the movie’s “public” scenes are in Japanese). For instance, when Sakamoto is with his uncle, he ALWAYS speaks Korean. Also important to know is the latent hatred that still exists in Korea towards Japan for the time they were occupied (up until WWII). To Koreans, this movie will come off as far more emotional than for foreigners.»
«This is all very nice, but know what's bugging me? The movie gets cold feet. It chickens out and doesn't play fair. 2009 could have been one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. The concept that BOTH the real world and the alternate future aren't very desirable (for the North Koreans at the very least- they lose either way) is a fascinating one. However, the idea is never brought up. Sure, there's innuendo and suggestion, but that's all it is. No one ever stops their headlong rush to get to the third act to think about what they're doing for a second.»
«...the more superficial aspects of the film are superior. The action, while of the Hollywood shoot-em-up variety, is exciting and well-done. Furthermore, the production design, cinematography, and costumes are excellent. This is one good-looking movie. Charismatic actors Jang Dong-Gun (who starred in the blockbuster Friend) and Toru Nakamura (of Gen-X Cops and Tokyo Raiders fame) do well with their parts, though Nakamura has an unenviable character to play. Shojiro Saigo could have been the film's most pivotal character, and he's certainly the most conflicted. However, despite Nakamura's generous portrayal of the character, Saigo ends up as nothing more than another pawn in the twisting narrative of the film.»
«Though it ultimately devolves into megabudget Hollywood action-movie cliches by way of John Woo, Lee's handsome blockbuster is an entertaining variation on the American formulas that have colonized world cinema.»
«Trouble is, the concept doesn't quite work. The shooting was only one factor in the annexation of Korea; given Japan's imperial appetites, surely some other pretext would have been found. Why go back and enforce the assassination (or for that matter, if you're one of 2009's Japanese, prevent it), if things would have turned out more or less the same either way? Why not travel back in time and not make this movie?»
«As an action movie, “Lost Memories” works, but as a sci-fi film, its Time Travel angle is ineptly written and executed. For example: there is a device that can send people through time and alter history, but the people who have it are hauling it around in metal crates without an army to protect it? Gee, people just don’t treat time travel machines the way they use to.»
«"2009 -- Lost Memories," is more often a noirish action drama, a melancholy meditation on history and nationalism, than the high-tech thriller promised by its hype and artwork. A wannabe Japanese-Korean buddy movie wrapped around a hokey, what-if/sci-fi drama, the movie is far too leisurely for the international market, but provides steady enough entertainment over its two-plus hours for Asiaphiles, signaling some fest and ancillary action.»
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