What if James Cameron's Terminator was a love story? Sounds ludicrous but that's exactly what Kwak Jae-Young's Cyborg She is - a love story between a high-tech cyborg from the future (Ayase Haruka) and her inventor boyfriend Kitamura Jiro (Koide Keisuke).
In the year 2070, a kindly, frail and physically handicapped Jiro built a female cyborg (in an homage to Terminator, the cyborg is a "Cyberdyne Model 103") as a personal aide to assist him in his daily life. Equipped with a time travel device, Jiro sends the cyborg back to 2007 in an attempt to prevent the incident that crippled him (a mentally unstable office worker shot him in a restaurant shootout). Fulifilling her duty, the cyborg meets up with the younger Jiro and successfully saves him from the gunman.
As Jiro and the Cyborg slowly start to form a relationship, the Cyborg becomes a bit of a celebrity as she uses her high tech powers to perform a number of heroic deeds (she saves a girl from being hit by a car, she stops a hostage taker from killing one of his victims, saves people from a fire) as well as gets into a bit of innocent mischief (she takes clothes without paying, does the "robot" in a disco). However, Jiro and the Cyborg's happy life comes to an abrupt end as a massive earthquake hits Tokyo, effectively destroying the capital. While the Cyborg does her best to save Jiro, she unfortunately suffers serious damage during the quake and now Jiro must try and save her.
Cyborg She is directed by Korean director Kwak Jae-Young who many may recognize from his popular 2001 hit My Sassy Girl. Kwak's inventive humor and storytelling is again much in evidence here and he delivers a satisfying and entertaining movie. While some of the comedy may border on the silly, I found myself laughing at the visual gags. The film borrows liberally from other sci-fi films, notably Terminator and A.I., but crafts an interesting time-jumping, century-spanning love story that is quite effective and endearing.
The VFX/SFX work was surprisingly top notch, especially during the climactic destruction of Tokyo as well as during some of the Cyborg's robotic effects. Some of the story's loopy continuity and Back To The Future-styled time travel concepts are a bit hard to follow but Kwak does make it work in the end, and pulls some inventive story twists.
Ayase Haruka (Memories of Matsuko) is alluring and cute in her role as the future Cyborg, creating a likeable but somewhat stiff heroine. Koide Keisuke (Pacchigi!, Koizora, Kisaragi) is also likeable as Jiro, in an otaku/anime geek sort of way. Their love story begins in typical awkward fashion but soon develops into a sweet romance thanks to their nice and controlled performances. Kiritani Kenta (Crows Zero, 69 Sixty Nine) steals many scenes as Jiro's goofy college friend. His scene where he gets the Cyborg drunk is especially fun to watch. The always funny Takenaka Naoto (Swing Girls, Waterboys) also makes a hilarious cameo as one of Jiro's wacky and high-strung college professors.
There has been some confusion regarding whether or not Cyborg She is in some ways a remake or re-interpretation of Park Chan-Wook's 2006 film I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK. While both films do share more than a few similarities and themes, they are two completely different films and are not connected in any way. Although I am still of the opinion that Kwak was influenced by Park's film, no official connection exists as far as I've been able to gather.
Cyborg She is an enjoyable sci-fi fantasy that will have audiences hooked from the start and invested in the romance between the attractive leads. While some may find the story a bit melodramatic and the humor a tad forced, I liked the film a lot. (JMaruyama 2008)