She isn’t crazy. Really.
When Young-goon’s mother, (Yong-nyeo Lee), was a little girl, she came home sick one day to find her mother feeding small mice picked radishes; she told her daughter that the mice were her long lost children. As her mother is aged, she began to believe that she was a ‘Grandmother mouse,’ and voraciously began to eat pickled radishes, just as a mice do–all day, every day. She soon had to be placed in a mental institution–taken away by the men in white (orderlies). How unfortunate. Now her daughter thinks she is a cyborg, and somehow, believes that her ‘illness’ came from her mother. Although Young-goo wasn’t eating pickled radishes as her mom had–there wasn’t an immediate need to worry.
If you let her mother tell the tale, Young-goon’s (Su-Jeong Lim) ‘illness’ may have resulted from her grandmother’s obsession with mice and pickled radishes. One day, Young-goon was busy at work assembling radios when she attempted to ‘recharge’ her batteries; she cut her wrists then insert an unfinished wired end of a power cord in the wound; and plugged the opposite end into the wall socket. While this act was thought to be a suicide attempt, it landed her in a mental institution.
Since Yang-goon believes she is a “cyborg,” she had to find ways of refueling herself; licking batteries were one way, and listening to educational broadcasts at work was another. The final option to refuel (the wall socket), well, you now know how that went. Her refusal to eat typical food rendered her fragile. So not only was the institution and her doctors tasked to find out her particular mental illness–they had to find some way for her to eat as well. Yang-goon “spoke” to the fluorescent lights, vending machines, and listened to broadcasts on a defunct radio by wearing her grandmother’s dentures–enabling her to communicate with electronic devices–which she carried around everywhere.
Il-sun (Rain) housed in the same institution as Young-goon for being an anti-social kleptomaniac, who fears he will shrink into nothingness (as a result of his schizophrenia). He also believes that he could ‘steal’ his fellow resident’s mannerisms or attributes: one of the residents think Il-sun took his all-powerful secret serve used in his ping pong game–another believes that he stole her memory. He wore these cleverly crafted masks that he used to shield him from all the accusations the residents was throwing his way. Il-sun almost immediately became interested in helping rid Yang-goon of her “inability” to eat–cyborgs don’t eat regular food like humans do. So he devised a plan to use his ‘talents’ to help her.
Il-sun convinces Young-goon to allow him to take away her sympathy for the ‘white-coats’ who took her grandmother from her, and find a way for her cybernetic body to be able to process food. The doctors began to give her shock treatments to get her to eat, but to no avail. As her health deteriorates, she is put on a feeding tube. Eventually, food is no longer an issue for her, thanks to Il-sun, but there is still a lingering “purpose” to her existence troubling her.
If you decide to see this film because you are familiar with director Chan-wook’s Oldboy, Three Extremes (cut), and Vengeance trilogies, then you may not care for this too much for this film. It does not have the familiar horror element, although it is a different kind of movie, I will recommend it because it has all of the supernatural items that give all his films that stylistic edge. I did not want to go into too much detail about all the other antics in the movie, as they are better to be left unwittingly enjoyed; however, I will say that “Cyborg” isn’t Wook’s best film–the script seemed a bit underdeveloped–I thought that maybe, watching Cyborg might have redeemed my expectations in Wook’s ‘un-horror’ movie THIRST (2009). “Cyborg” isn’t his worst movie–I expected a little bit more this time.
The performances by Jung Ji-hoon, or Rain, and Su-Jeong Lim are fantastic–and their accompaniment of institutionalized residents is one of the film’s high point, as well as the overall cinematics, are, as always, Wook’s strong point. The film is wild, vivid colors, and joyful psychotic semantics. Perhaps this movie is intended to be a pun at director himself? Could he be challenging himself in some way, by directing a comedy–causing him to be a bit “off” his usual deluge of mind-bending horror films? Wook–you are no comedian. Actually, not too much can be taken from this movie, but it is fun to watch–just don’t expect too much, and you won’t be too disappointed.
‘I’m not a “psy-cho.” I’m a cy-borg!’
I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK (2006) is a comedy-romance film by director Park Chan-wook; and written by Park Chan-wook and Seo-Gyeong Jeong. Starring Su-jeong Lim (A Tale of Two Sisters), Rain (Ninja Assassin ’09, Speed Racer), and Hie-jin Choi.