JUNG_E (정이) (NETFLIX) (2022)

: In a post-apocalyptic near-future, a researcher at an AI lab leads the effort to end a civil war by cloning the brain of a heroic soldier — her mother.


Jung_E is the latest brainchild of Yeong Sang-ho, director of Train to Busan and Peninsula. Despite talks of a seemingly looming galactic battle involving humans and cyborgs in the prologue, Jung_E never really took off the ground except for being a small, intimate drama between a mother and a daughter throughout the duration.

Captain Yun (Kim Hyun-joo) was a decorated war hero who was fatally injured and her brain data was cloned and developed into an advanced form of combat AI codenamed Jung_E. Spearheading the project is scientist Yun Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-yeon) who happens to be the daughter of Captain Yun.

With the clone of Captain Yun constantly failing the simulation, Kronoid, the company behind the technology decides to discontinue the project and instead concentrate its existing resources into household products, sex toys included. When Yun discovers her childhood cancer is returning, her only hope is to free Captain Yun and her conscious before the latter is fully controlled by the corporation led by a despicable, over-the-top Kim Sang-hoo (Ryu Kyung-soo).

Yeong certainly has crafted a flick that is reminisces of I, Robot, Robocop and Elysium. This would mean Jung_E is more of a rip-off than an original thought-provoking flick on humanity and science. Fortunately, Yeong knows how to tell a somewhat heartfelt, engaging story despite the familiarities. For most of the duration, the story is focused on Yun and her mother, a relationship that is never expanded upon since the day her mother “died” in her last mission. While Yun is never shown explicitly expressing her love, the third act is a testimony to their bonding and relationship.  

This of course brings us to the supposedly slick CGI-heavy action as seen in the opening which sort of showcases Captain Yun fighting against some robotic enemies. Yet this is not Yeon’s intention as Jung_E starts to busy itself with lots of corporate talk and exposition, trying its best to establish an apocalyptic tale of conflicts and politics which sadly wasn’t given much screentime to expand on.

Thus, much of Jung_E relies heavily on the terminally ill Yun and her mother. The relationship between them is emotionally heart-breaking and it’s even more tragic given that actress Kang Soo-yeon passed away in real-life months after filming was completed.

In short, Yeong’s self-penned and directed effort is definitely not the movie that you expect from the trailer. It’s not a frenetic action sci-fi flick though it has a few decently choreographed action sequences especially the finale. Still, even this is Yeong’s middling effort, it’s recommended at least for a single watch.


Review by Linus Tee