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2009 Lost Memories ( 2009 로스트메모리즈 / ロスト・メモリーズ)
indecom/E-Tube Entertainment/CJ Entertainment, 2002
ADV Films, 2004
Directed by Lee Si-Myung
Running Time: 135 minutes
Rated R for graphic violence.


Jang Dong-Gun as Masayuki Sakamoto
Toru Nakamura as Shojiro Saigo
Seo Jin-Ho as Oh Hye-Rin


In an alternate year 1909, the assassination of Japanese Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito by Korean nationalist An Jung-geun is thwarted. As a result, Japan's political stance worldwide changes dramatically. Over the course of the century, Japan allies with the U.S. in World War II, with the atomic bomb destroying Berlin instead of Hiroshima. In addition, Japan also becomes a permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1960, participates in the space race with the Sakura I satellite in 1965, hosts the 1988 Summer Olympics in Nagoya (instead of Seoul) and the 2002 FIFA World Cup (instead of splitting it with South Korea). More importantly, the peninsula of Korea remains part of Imperial Japan.

Fast-forward to the year 2009 in the city of Keijo (Seoul). Japanese Bureau of Investigation (JBI) agent Masayuki Sakamoto and his partner Shojiro Saigo end a hostage crisis at a museum instigated by a terrorist group called Hureisenjin. Sakamoto continues to investigate the incident in search of the Hureisenjin's motives, which involves an organization created by former Governor-General Inoue. As he digs deeper for answers, he discovers that his late father was involved with the Hureisenjin, but his further findings make him a marked man by the JBI. Allying himself with the Hureisnjin, Sakamoto realizes that the current timeline should not exist, as history had been tampered with, and he must go back in time to restore history to bring Korean sovereignty back to existence.

2009 Lost Memories is South Korea's answer to the film noir genre, with a hardly noticeable sci-fi element on the side. It also gives viewers an idea of how much the Japanese and Koreans hate each other. And that's the problem with this film.

Sure, the cinematography is great and the shootouts are well-choreographed, but there are too many interludes that vaguely develop any of the characters, and there's the constant clashing of Japanese and Korean cultures. Plus, making this a time-travel film somehow doesn't seem to work. At least Mamoru Oshii's Kerberos saga is merely an alternate universe.

And the running time - 135 minutes? The production team could have accomplished a better story at a shorter time.

But perhaps my biggest gripe with this film is the same as Battle Royale II: Requiem: it promotes terrorism. It makes viewers believe that terrorism is the only solution to a country's problems.

In short, 2009 Lost Memories is not a bad film. It's just too long with numerous plot holes and too much focus on anti-Japanese/anti-Korean sentiment. A rental at most.

Rating: C+

Sub vs. Dub
Don't know, don't care. I didn't realize ADV Films licensed this film several years ago until recently. Moreover, according to IMDb, the English dub was produced by none other than Carl Macek.

The Internet Movie Database

Edited by areaseven
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