Capitalism And Greed Follow Humankind In Yeon Sang-ho’s ‘Jung_E’ – Film Review


The earth has become inhabitable. Sea levels have risen. Resources have been drained. As a result, humanity is left to turn to the only viable option that’s left: outer space. Colonies of shelters were created for the planet’s population to live in, but peaceful coexistence is never guaranteed just because man has overtaken a new environment. Certain shelters banded together to form the Adrian Republic and used force to advance their survival and interests.

Captain Yun (Kim Hyun-joo) was the most popular soldier in the decades-long fight against Adrian. But during one of her missions, she was severely wounded and ended up in a coma. Years later, the war with Adrian is still raging. At a military AI lab, a research organization called Kronoid is hard at work to replicate Yum and her extraordinary combat skills. They believe that a clone, equipped with the intelligence and strategy of the original Yun, is the key to winning the fight. The research team is led by Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-yeon), Yun’s daughter. Unfortunately, according to her doctor, Seo-hyun only has months to live due to the re-emergence of her childhood cancer – and it was this very reason that compelled her mother to become a soldier in the first place. 


One day, when the team finally gains new headway, the chairman of the lab tells them that a deal has been struck with Adrian. The project is to be terminated. But Seo-hyun won’t allow her obsession with her mother’s project to end. Her mother’s life will not be wasted. 

Written and directed by Yeon Sang-ho, the man behind 2016’s horror masterpiece Train to Busan, Jung­_E is a post-apocalyptic sci drama that tests the boundaries of ambition and family devotion. It’s a bit of Groundhog Day meets Terminator meets Ender’s Game with a bit of I, Robot thrown into the mix. The computerized visuals are, quite frankly, stunning, and Yeon’s world could not have been given life without them. 

One especially noteworthy skill that many Korean actors and actresses possess, including Jung_E’s cast, is the ability to assume their character’s identities with their entire bodies. Their gestures and facial expressions alone are enough to put dozens of western veterans to the test. 

The main characters are quite unique in their personalities. As for Seo-hyun, though it would take someone who’s incredibly cold not to sympathize with her, she is pretty stoic as a main protagonist who is not an anti-hero or a villain. And yet, that’s what makes her so fascinating; those gracious moments when she allows herself to feel trigger the audience to react identically and feel along with her. 


The film reinforces the fact that, unfortunately, even in the future, wherever we are, where humankind is, be it earth, another planet, or the vast realm of space, greed and capitalism will follow us. Yet it also reinforces the significance of family – that family is what we make of it; that it’s not all fun and games when survival is at stake, but in the end, clones, space wars, illness, and eventual death cannot sever the bonds between loved ones. 

While Jung_E is not the best of the best on Netflix, it offers a fresher twist on the trope-heavy science fiction. Brain data is the hottest commodity in this artificial, though not-to-distant world, instead of robot armies shooting lasers from gigantic spaceships. So, if you’re in the mood for something new, why not give Jung­_E a try? Whether you’re a fan of this type of film or not, something remarkable always emerges from a piece of South Korean art. 

JUNG_E is available to stream on Netflix.

by Kacy Hogg 

Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, CinderellaCaptain America: The Winter SoldierThe Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95

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