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Kim Woo-bin plays Guard in a still from Alienoid (category IIA, Korean), the first in a two-part Korean film series directed by Choi Dong-hoon that mixes science fiction and period fantasy. Kim Tae-ri and Ryu Jun-yeol co-star.

ReviewAlienoid movie review: sci-fi and period fantasy meet in star-studded Korean two-parter featuring Kim Woo-bin, Kim Tae-ri and Ryu Jun-yeol

  • Choi Dong-hoon’s alien invasion science-fiction story mixed with 14th-century Korean fantasy has amazing special effects
  • The two-part movie follows the hunt for a magic crystal called the Divine Blade on an Earth being used by aliens as a prisoner-of-war camp

3/5 stars

Following a string of hits including The Big Swindle, The Thieves and Assassination, writer-director Choi Dong-hoon takes his biggest gamble to date with Alienoid.

The first of two planned films, this hugely ambitious undertaking is a bold blend of genres, interweaving alien invasion science fiction with goofy period fantasy.

Meshing advanced technology with super-powered magic is an approach that continues to work for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but without a recognisable brand to entice audiences en masse, Choi’s unwieldy action comedy may have its work cut out to make an impact.

Unbeknown to humanity, Earth has been used as a penal colony for an advanced race of alien beings. For hundreds of years, extraterrestrial prisoners of war have been incarcerated inside oblivious human hosts.

Guard (Kim Woo-bin) and his robot sidekick Thunder (voiced by Kim Dae-myung) are on the ground tasked with monitoring these secret inmates, rounding up those able to escape their anthropomorphic prisons, but otherwise getting pretty despondent with their solitary station.

Ryu Jun-yeol plays a Taoist wizard (centre) in a still from Alienoid.

Guard is also equipped with a crystal-like device enabling him to travel back in time and monitor POWs in the Goryeo era of Korean history. On one such trip, Guard and Thunder retrieve a newborn baby who is orphaned by an escaped alien, and 10 years later, lives with them as Guard’s surrogate daughter (Choi Yoo-ri).


Back in the late 14th century, hapless Taoist wizard “The Marvellous Muruk” (Ryu Jun-yeol) hears about an all-powerful crystal known as the Divine Blade. He soon teams up with a mysterious pistol-wielding woman (Kim Tae-ri) known as “The girl who shoots thunder”. Numerous other interested parties appear, also looking to get their hands on the fabled weapon.

Choi previously explored the fantasy genre in 2009’s Woochi, but science fiction remains largely unexplored in South Korean cinema. As a result, Alienoid’s key influences are from Hollywood classics such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Terminator.
Kim Tae-ri plays a mysterious pistol-wielding woman in a still from Alienoid.

The effects work here is first-rate, as one would expect from one of Korea’s most expensive productions to date, but the script’s central conceit starts to buckle under the slightest scrutiny.

Choi’s stacked ensemble cast includes So Ji-sub, Yum Jung-ah and Kim Eui-sung, ensuring that Alienoid remains an entertaining romp throughout.

The discovery that, after 142 minutes, the story remains only half told reconfirms Choi’s intent to boldly go where no Korean film has gone before.

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