Lee Si-Myung's sci-fi/action thriller takes place largely in an alternate future where Korea never became an autonomous nation and Japan won World War II. It opens in 1909 at a crowded railway station in Harbin, Manchuria, where Japanese statesman Ito Hirobumi steps off a train and into the line of fire of Korean nationalist An Chung-Gun. But while in real life Hirobumi was assassinated, here the attempt is foiled and has far-reaching consequences detailed in a newspaper montage. Hirobumi becomes the first governor of "Korea Colony" and is succeeded by Mr. Inoue, who foiled the assassination attempt. In 1936, allied U.S. and Japanese forces enter WWII, Japan annexes Manchuria and the war ends with the atomic bombing of Berlin. Seoul, 2009: Japanese is the national language of the Japanese-Korean nation, and Korean nationalism lives only in small pockets of underground resistance. The Korean Liberation Army, Furei-Senjin, stages a raid on Ito Hall, current home of a touring collection of cultural artifacts belonging to the powerful Inoue Foundation; they take hostages, but make no demands. Agent Masayuki Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Kun) of the Japanese Bureau of Investigation leads an assault that brings the situation to a rapid if bloody conclusion, but he's puzzled by the Furei-Senjin's motives. Sakamoto, who's ethnically Korean, volunteers himself and his Japanese partner, Shojiro Saigo (Toru Nakamura), to lead the investigation. Sakamoto's inquiries lead to a pair of artifacts a boomerang-shaped carving called the "Lunar Soul" from the Ito Hall exhibition and a massive stone slab, also part of the Inoue Foundation's collection that were excavated near Harbin, and which the Furei-Senjin has repeatedly tried to steal. Neither has any apparent market value, so why do they want them? The mind-boggling answer leads Sakamoto deep into his own past and back to the moment in 1909 when Korea's future hung in the balance. 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.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
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- Review: Lee Si-Myung's sci-fi/action thriller takes place largely in an alternate future where Korea never became an autonomous nation and Japan won World War II. It opens in 1909 at a crowded railway station in Harbin, Manchuria, where Japanese statesman Ito Hiro… (more)