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Robotics, Existentialism and Jung_E. So What’s The Glitch?

jung_e posterAvailable on Netflix

In the future, the planet Earth is no longer habitable, and humanity’s life in orbital colonies has become harder. A civil war broke out after some of them formed their own government. In the conflict Jung_yi (Kim Hyun-joo) the soldier, not Jung_E the android, become a legend. The movie explores a bit of her life and sadly, she’s no Joan of Arc. I would have appreciated that nod, but she is just another model in the production line.

This replicant whom analysts are studying has this woman’s memories, but it’s tough to figure out what made the woman tick. Her decoration is because she pulled a Hail Mary. Through flashbacks, we learn why she became a soldier. And although this story is solid, I was hoping for more about the current state of affairs between why the Allied Forces want to fully clone her and why this war against the Andrian Republic lasted this long.

At first, I thought this movie may be a take on Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm)’s complex themes of existentialism. To put a consciousness in another body has consequences. But here, it doesn’t go further than to understand Jung’s memories. She’s a skilled fighter and can lead an army. But to replicate all of that to other clones requires digitising those memory engrams that make her tick.

But depending on what the person agrees to upon death, it’ll either be a chance at a new life or a sad fate. Jung got neither. Instead, her mother agreed to sell her brain to the military. I think the idea is borrowed from Yukito Kishiro‘s manga. And perhaps writer/director Yeon Sang-ho (known for Train to Busan and Penninsula) had to change enough of the tale around to avoid copyright infringement, since it’s close to what I remember from Battle Angel Alita: Mars Chronicle.

In this android’s case, it’s her heart that guides her. In a strange twist of fate, Yun Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-youn), is the leading scientist to figure out who is more important–the mother who gave up her life for her or that soulless entity that carries her brainwaves. The problems that arise in the present make for Yun’s decision to not call the android by that parental name, but as a Jung_E.

This tale is reasonably engaging, but without the hard core study of why cloning and who owns the soul matter, something is missed in the translation. Perhaps what this film needs is a better explanation on android liberation and deal with more ideas from Ex Machina. Depending on how much one will pay, they either lose their rights as a life form and get regarded as property that can be traded.

But to attain the freedom in this strange hereafter is a goal androids dreaming of electric sheep want, and what we get here is an interesting take. But to understand it all may require a sequel, should this filmmaker decide to flesh out Jung_E’s future for all to understand. The last moments in this film demand it.

3½ Stars out of 5

Jung_E Trailer

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