After his rip-roaring revenge trilogy - Sympathy for Mr Vengenace, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance - Korean auteur Park Chan-Wook loses his marbles in I'm A Cyborg, a deliriously demented rom-com. Bug-eyed waif Young-goon (Lim Su-jeong) is the cyborg of the title, a mentally deranged girl who refuses to eat because she thinks her insides are made of electrical circuits. Banged up in an asylum Young-goon meets schizophrenic kleptomaniac Il-sun (Jeong Ji-hun, aka Asian pop star Rain). Love (and hallucinatory psychosis) soon blossom.
Whatever you make of this oddball rom-com, it's nothing if not inventive. Opening in a Metropolis-style factory populated by red-robed women assembling transistor radios, it quickly spirals into padded cell madness as Young-goon is sent to an asylum after slashing her wrists and hooking herself up to the electrical mains. There she meets the biggest collection of freaks and geeks this side of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. Convinced she's a cyborg who can talk to vending machines using her granny's dentures (!), Young-goon spends her time recharging her power cells by licking batteries. She also piques the interest of mask-wearing nutter Il-sun, an inmate who tries to steal his fellow patients' psychoses.
"INSANE INTENSITY AND RAMBLING DULLNESS"
Park directs with admirable verve, building his story into a touching tale about two damaged souls who connect through insanity. Shot in brightly unreal colours, it verges on becoming a mental musical (there's only one tune, but since it's a yodelling number that transports Young-goon to the Alps on the back of a giant CGI insect, who's complaining?). The fantasy sequences climax with a bizarre moment when Young-goon transforms herself into a battle bot - fingers firing bullets, metal mouth dispensing shell cases - and mows down doctors and nurses. Like all psychotic ramblings, I'm A Cyborg flits between insane intensity and rambling dullness - but there's a human heart pumping beneath its mad, metallic surface.
I'm A Cyborg is out in the UK on 4 April 2008.