By Kim Boram
SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- Like the 2009 time-traveling action fantasy "Jeon Woochi," "Alienoid" is another kind based on Korean traditional fairy tales on Taoist magic made by popular director Choi Dong-hoon.
This time, Choi, one of the most bankable filmmakers in the South Korean box office, best known for "Tazza: The High Rollers" (2006), "The Thieves" (2012) and "Assassination" (2015), combines his familiar setting with science-fiction elements, like aliens, robots and spacecraft.
The film starts as Guard (Kim Woo-bin), an alien in charge of managing alien prisoners confined in mortal human brains on present-day Earth, arrests prison-breakers with his robotic colleague Thunder.
He bends time and space to carry out his duties but never intervenes in human affairs.
While catching the seventh and the last extraterrestrial escapee in the 14th century, Thunder returns to the 21st century with a human baby of a victim of the alien criminal, causing a small crack in the time-space system.
About 10 years later, his planet sends a group of convicts, including the leader of a coup, to Earth, and Guard imprisons them in human brains.
Before long, the criminal leader, called "architect," and his supporters break their human prison, while Guard and Thunder try to put the prisoners back into the mortal body.
But due to the unexpectedly strong clash between extraterrestrial forces on Earth, the portal that links the 14th and 21st centuries opens.
In the 14th century during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), a group of Taoist magicians, including Ja-jang (Kim Eui-sung), a masked man who leads a secret gang, searches for a legendary divine sword.
Mureuk (Ryu Jun-yeol), a clumsy martial artist, runs into a mysterious woman named Lee Ahn (Kim Tae-ri), who uses a pistol, when he looks for the sword.
Throughout the 142-minute run time, "Alienoid" keeps going back and forth from the present to the past. And it features some creatively choreographed, over-the-top martial arts action and gun shots, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.
Its computer-generated visual effects create the spacecraft, robots, aliens and laser beams in a realistic and dramatic way that is usually seen in Hollywood blockbusters.
The star-studded cast also plays a role in the multi-genre, time-traveling movie.
Ryu Jun-yeol and Kim Tae-ri show high-profile action scenes and create good on-screen chemistry, while Kim Woo-bin, who is making his first big screen appearance after the 2016 crime film "Master," doubles as the callous and cold-hearted Guard and lovable and kind Thunder.
But the story seems cut and dried. Like many sci-fi fiction works, "Alienoid" basically follows the story of the arrival of aliens that brings about a grave danger to the human world, while some robots and computer programs that get closer to their human friends make irrational, emotional choices.
And "Alienoid" is not the end of the story that director Choi wants to tell. Its second part is coming next year.
"Alienoid" will hit local theaters next Wednesday.
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