The 2000s Dystopian Sci-Fi Action Epic Inspired By Blade Runner You’ve Never Seen

By Nina Phillips | Published

Natural City is a Korean movie about a police officer, R, who is in charge of hunting down cyborgs on the run. All cyborgs are given three years to live, but black markets have made it possible to turn their minds into real people and, therefore, extend their lives. Even as R is hunting down robots attempting this illegal method of extending their life, he’s debating using the method on his own cyborg, Ria, who is near the end of her three-year lifespan.

Natural City

A lot happens at once in the movie. R is working with his partner to hunt down runaway robots while finding a woman who could be his lover’s body. Meanwhile, cyborgs are starting to protest and rise up against the unfair laws. There are no perfect characters in Natural City, and everyone has their own inner tragedies and turmoil, making it hard to know who to root for.

Inspired By Blade Runner

Due to its futuristic style and similar plot lines, Natural City is often compared to Blade Runner. However, this comparison isn’t quite right, and many people who go into the movie with this perception often leave disappointed.

Sure, the Natural City definitely pulls inspiration from Blade Runner, especially when it comes to the cyberpunk themes, but it’s clear pretty early into the film that it’s not going for something exactly similar. The overarching story is close, but the romance and tale of the main two characters take the movie in an entirely different direction.

Closer To Ghost In The Shell

Though Natural City does have some cyberpunk elements, it’s not heavily focused on the cyberpunk aspects. The movie was more science-fiction and romance-based. In fact, if you were to compare it to any other film, it might be better compared to Ghost in the Shell.

Korean Sci-Fi Cyberpunk

Natural City is written and directed by Byung-cheon Min. It was his first time as a writer, but he directed another movie before this one, called Phantom: The Submarine. Rin Seo, the actress who played Ria, was also fairly new, having only acted in three movies previously (Popcorn, I Love You, Road Movie).

However, the same can’t be said for all of the actors. R was played by Yoo Ji-tae (Vigilante, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance), who had several roles before Natural City and quickly grew in popularity after. Lee Jae-un (Yellow Hair) and Eun-pyo Jeong (Mouse) also played roles in the movie.

Not Perfect But Still Enjoyable

Unfortunately, you may not have seen Natural City because it wasn’t very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes, the average score was 45 percent. Some of this could be viewers expecting something just like Blade Runner, and the movie not living up to the hype, as well as being more of a love story than a cyberpunk action movie.

However, that alone doesn’t explain the poor reviews. The movie is by no means perfect, as the plot is sometimes rather complicated. Though the visuals are quite good, they carry the story. Without the visuals, the movie wouldn’t be nearly as attention-grabbing and interesting as it is.

Available To Stream For Free

While it’s not the best-rated movie, if you’re a fan of tragic romances, science-fiction elements, and Korean movies, you might find yourself enjoying this one. At the very least, this is a movie worth watching once and experiencing it for yourself. Natural City is streaming on Kanopy.