2009 -- Lost Memories

2009 -- Lost Memories DVD Cover
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Rating:

4 stars out of 5 stars

Directed by:

Lee Si-Myung

Cast:

Jang Dong-GunSakamoto Masayuki
Nakamura ToruSaigo Shojiro

Screenplay:

Lee Si-Myung

Stunt Director:

Kim Ki-Chul

DVD:

From Poker Industries.

Zone:

3

Video Signal:

NTSC

Japan allied with the US in World War II -- Bomb was dropped on Berlin Korean peninsula controlled by Japan

The film opens with a bang, literally, with an assassination. That is closely followed by an elaborate set piece of the Hureisenjen hang gliding to the museum and breaking in through the sky light. Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun, Nowhere to Hide) is an ethnic Korean in the Japanese Bureau of Investigation in Seoul when the Hureisenjen, a Korean nationalist radical group, takes over a museum full of dignitaries. He and his partner, Saigo (Toru Nakamura, Tokyo Raiders), head out with the SWAT guys to rescue the hostages. Afterwards, the strange lack of hostage fatalities leads Sakamoto to believe the Hureisenjen were after an archaeological artifact which is on its way to Japan. Sure enough, the terrorists intercept the truck in another stab at snatching the Lunar Soul. Sakamoto has a Woo-esque stand off with a curiously familiar female terrorist who resembles the woman in his mysterious visions; visions of a strange woman being hauled at gun point into a pillar of light.

Continuing the investigation leads Sakamoto to the Inoue Foundation. His boss warns him off the case and away from the Foundation but Sakamoto can't let it go . He is suspended and framed for the murder of a fellow JBI agent and Korean, Takahashi. Sakamoto discovers his universe, a Seoul where the expressway signs and advertisements are in Japanese and Koreans are relegated to creepy ghettos, is awry. His ties to the status quo are severed, one by one, pushing him towards the Hureisenjen.

Choice of language plays a key role in the movie. Some characters speak Korean instead of trying to blend. Sadly, my Western ear is not educated enough to hear the difference between Korean and Japanese so I believe I missed the nuances of which and when. Also, I don't believe I am atypical in not being very aware of tensions between Korea and Japan. The significance of the initial assassination and some of the alternate time line is less than clear to the casual western viewer.

That being said, the film is very nationalistic; you can rely on every Japanese to turn on a Korean. A slight attempt at a balanced perspective is presented by Saigo who must go against his partner and friend or have his wife and daughter never exist. Both Saigo and Sakamoto are played very stoically. At first viewing, Saigo appeared callous towards Sakamoto but his esteem is there. However, less delicacy would have improved the punch.

The film closes with two massive gun battles and an assassination in a wonderfully symmetrical plot. Sakamoto's escape from police custody is a standout sequence. The action, there's plenty of it, is strikingly, yet clearly, filmed.

Once past the nationalism, of which Hollywood can be just as guilty, 2009 Lost Memories is involving with plenty of eye candy. It is complex without being confusing, unless any hint of time travel is perplexing. Finally, if you still have questions, here is a link that gives some excellent background, together with spoilers.


Images:

Thumbnail of Hureisenjen entering the museum through the skylight in 2009 -- Lost Memories

Hureisenjen entering the museum through the skylight (~31K)

Thumbnail of Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun) passing Inoue in  2009 -- Lost Memories

Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun) passing Inoue (~22K)

Thumbnail of Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun) and the portal in 2009 -- Lost Memories

Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun) and the portal (~36K)


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