South Korea’s inception of its own sci-fi action franchise has finally begun with Jo Sunghee’s pioneering deep-space escapade “Space Sweepers” releasing on the OTT giant streaming platform Netflix on 5th February 2021. Heralded as the country’s first big-budget spacefaring epic with an eye-catching production and impressive CGI, it was originally supposed to be a conventional theatrical release during the summer of 2020, however, the pandemic compelled the movie to take a different route instead.

Credits: Netflix Facebook Page

 

Highlighting the cinematic vision of interstellar galactic scavenging that reminds you of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and cinematography comparable to that of flamboyantly energetic astronautics featured in “Star Wars”, “Space Sweepers” is a visual enchant with sumptuous effects serving adequate exhilaration that is expected from a space spectacle cinema.

A Crisp Analysis of the Plot:

 

“In space, there’s no up or down. From the universe’s viewpoint, nothing is worthless or precious. Everything is precious in its own place.”

The year is 2092.

The fate of life on earth precariously balances on the sling slope of existence as the sky is ravaged with acidic and choky airspace with the breathable proportion of air hitting rock-bottom. A humongous so-called-altruistic conglomerate UTS Corporation leads the idea of colonization on Mars and relocation of human beings there with a hope to salvage the earth’s inhabitants. While the elite have the latitude to set foot in the newly-formed Elysian paradise on Mars, earth’s remaining destitute habitants left behind, struggle to subsist.

“Space Sweepers” in this respect, synchronizes the parallel notion of lower-class exploitations as captured in the authentic Oscar-winning movie “Parasite”, together with its own originality in portraying class dynamics, crooked politics, and machinations of unscrupulous megalomaniacs pulling the strings. Many viewers couldn’t help but notice the uncanny similarity between Chung Sook’s weighty dialogue (in Parasite), “She’s nice because she’s rich. Hell, if I had all this money, I’d be nice too!” and Tae Ho’s (in Space Sweepers) “Do you think poverty makes us bad or we’re poor because we’re bad?”- both of these dialogues echo the same tone of lower-class knots.

Resounding the above nuclear essence, the film pertains to four such perpetually broke ragtag “space sweepers” –  Tae Ho (Song Joong Ki), Captain Jang (Kim Tae Ri), Mr. Park (Jin Seon Kyu), and a funny robot, Bubs (voiced by Yoo Hae Jin) — who are boarding the Korean-flagged “Victory” and chasing space debris with the purpose of bartering those orbit junks with hard cash. Desperate to hit it big, these stone broke space sailors sweat through this risky daily grind of debris amassing.

Credits: Netflix

During one such routine scrounging, this misfit crew discovers a young droid girl “Dorothy”(Park Ye Rin)- a dangerous nuclear bargain with a likelihood of it being mankind’s final chance of survival. With this discovery hangs over them the ultimate dilemma – “Money or Survival?”

Director Jo Sunghee’s unique visualization panache concocted with well-choreographed action patterns of this already tried-and-tested concept of space manipulation as an extension of capitalism bolsters the movie’s charm as fantastic space opera.

Credits: Netflix

Setting aside the ominous doom that encircles these junkers in this dystopian environment while floating in vacuum, the endearing affection and hilarious anecdotes between the Victory’s crewmates adds to the movie’s joyous angle, making it a delight to follow along with!

The prologue of each of these characters’ emotionally interweaved lives before they sign up for this daredevil task, adds to the marvel of the movie pressing at an inherently true fact: “Be it in space or earth or 90 years forward, being humane can overwhelm the crushing cognitive avenues.” 

Though the two-plus hour juggernaut takes a few decelerations to reach it’s  climax, the ride is action-packed enough to conjure up stirring Asian-style action rhapsodies to the point where none of these moments seem unnecessary or superfluous.

The Cast : 

With this movie, Kim Tae Ri of “The Handmaiden” fame, delivers yet another majestic performance as the epigrammatic and classy Captain Jang cleverly aviating the “Victory” through the galaxy of junk.

“We’re all experts in our respective fields, but this is the first space movie to ever be made in South Korea, so it was a challenge and a first for everyone. ” – Kim Tae Ri in an interview with Forbes

Acting genius and South Korea’s “Dicaprio” Soong Joong Ki who had previously worked with the director in “A Werewolf Boy” yet again shines in his role of the dynamic and fearless Tae Ho. When asked about the actor’s initial thoughts of working with the same director on an avant-garde project based on space fiction, he told Forbes“I was very curious to see how the first Korean film set in space would be colored by his interpretation. I became even more convinced after reading the script.” 

On the other side, while Jin Seon Kyu’s role in the movie as a previous “Drug lord” with a contradictory nature of a big-hearted generous man is applaudable, Yoo Hae Jin’s feisty voiceover for the android, adds a genuine charm to the stellar cast lineup.

Be it in bringing humor to the crew’s playful scenes or effectuating a dangerous scavenging sequence buzzing with sheer thrill, the cast’s impressive acting manages to keep the viewers engaged and glued to their seat until the end.

Also, adding a multicultural tint to the movie is Richard Armitage’s role as megacorporation’s UTS CEO James Sullivan which isn’t overdramatized enough to stroke the same-old cliché rendition of “wicked and rich”.

(P.S.: Indian fans keep your eyes skinned for a fleeting but striking cameo by a Desi actress!)

Credits: The Korea Herald

Final Views :

For fans of “Dune” and “Aliens” scouring for a movie with electrifying chronologies of interstellar combats, “Space Sweepers” brings to the table a fairly simplistic fusion of some run-of-the-mill principles of a sci-fi movie with its own distinctive charisma of emotionally-tugging backstories of the characters, multiculturalism, intricate CGI vivid in every frame and most importantly, a classic ecological message.

TOP 10 on Netflix India :

Thanks to the increasing surge of Hallyu Wave in India, “Space Sweepers” was trending #5, right after its release and currently is within “TOP 10” on Netflix India! While the iconic cast of Song Joong Ki and Kim Tae Ri may be the reason for its massive hype among Indian fans, the inclusion of the intellectually provocative sci-fi theme in Korean cinema might be yet another important propeller.

However, whatever may be the reason, the fact that this sci-fi odyssey has become a ‘must-watch’ for all K-movie lovers in India, remains unchanged!

Credits: Netflix

 

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