"Natural City is an unofficial sequel to (what everyone ought to know by now is my favorite film. EVER.) Ridley Scott's 1982 classic "future-noir" film, Blade Runner."
Natural City (2003)
Director: Min Byung-chun
Writer: Min Byung-chun
Cast: Yoo Ji-Tae, Jeong Du-Hong, Lee Jae-Eun
Running Time: 113 Min.
Plot: In the year 2080, manual labor is done by cyborgs. Each is programmed with an expiration date, when they must turn themselves in for recycling. But when they collectively decide they don't want to be recycled, trouble ensues.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Natural City is an unofficial sequel to (what everyone ought to know by now is my favorite film. EVER.) Ridley Scott's 1982 classic "future-noir" film, Blade Runner. Natural City employs a similar theme to that of Blade Runner, in that there's one "evil" replicant leading others in an attempt to find a way of extending his life. They also use the story point of the detective who has the hots for a replicant. Of course, Blade Runner does it better, for a number of reasons. But, as an homage style film, Natural City isn't too bad.
Tough guy, swat-style cop, R, is trying to find a way of preserving his replicant lover, Ria. Her life span is about to end, and he doesn't want to give her up. He thinks he knows of a way to do it, but it involves a procedure that other replicants are equally as interested in accomplishing. Enter Cyon, the girl that everyone is after, because her DNA is just right. R, who used to be one of the best, is on thin ice after screwing up multiple times, resulting in the deaths of some of his team members. He doesn't seem to care, however, as all he can focus on is finding a way of saving Ria.
It really doesn't follow the Blade Runner story-line at all, but there are similarities. In both films, the replicants have a short (4 year) life span, and there are different models· combat, pleasure, dancer, etc. The major difference is that in Blade Runner, at the end of the 4 year life span the Nexus6 replicants simply cease functioning (i.e., they die). In Natural City, they must turn themselves in for termination, because they start exhibiting Alzheimer's like symptoms (memory loss, forgetting how to do even the most common of tasks). The major story element in Natural City, however, is completely unique to that film. It involves memory/personality transfers from man to machine and back again.
As should be expected of a film make 22 years later, Natural City makes more of a use of special effects than did Blade Runner. Blade Runner's special effects were, at the time, ground breaking, but never distracted from the story. As I've always said, a good sci-fi movie takes their futuristic equipment for granted, and the characters should just use it as they would use any normal piece of equipment in their possession, the special effects remain subtle. Bad sci-fi movies happen when a movie focuses on the technology of the future as a plot point instead of using it as the people in the futuristic environment normally would. Natural City seemed to do a decent job of keeping the focus on the story and not on special effects/futuristic "stuff" (then again, the whole memory transfer bit was pretty much the entire focus of the movie), but, maybe they could have lightened up a bit on the CGI.
My problems with Natural City don't really have anything to do with the things that I've noticed other people commenting on. My main problem is that the movie starts off near the end of Ria's life-span, and R intent on finding a way to save her. She's already losing some of what made him so attracted to her in the first place, so we never really see any chemistry between the two. Obviously, we're supposed to imagine that this has happened in the past, but we don't actually see it for ourselves, so watching what happens to Ria is not as emotionally hard hitting as it might be. But, because the entire movie focuses on this fact, it's a bit hard to ignore it.
Overall, I would say that Natural City isn't as bad as people have made it out to be. No, I'm not just saying this because I love sci-fi, and I'm not just saying this because it's an homage to my favorite film. It really isn't all that bad, but it probably could have been fleshed out better.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 7/10