In Competition


Guest star:
KIM CHOI Dong-hoon, director 
AHN Soo-hyun, producer


As the premise for a film, it takes a bit of time to explain. Imagine that an alien civilization has chosen Earth as the solution to one of its pressing problems: how to banish and imprison members of its species who have committed treason. Rather than physically incarcerate these prisoners, their souls are locked up inside the brains of unsuspecting humans, who go about their business without any knowledge of what they are carrying inside them. To oversee this process, a robot named Guard has been posted to Earth together with a shape-shifting program called Thunder who can take the guise of a car or a human. Guard and Thunder are also able to travel through time, so some of the prisoners have been locked up in 14th century Korea, at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty.

When occasionally one of the alien prisoners becomes self-aware and tries to break out of its human host, Guard and Thunder set off to capture it and lock it back up again.
But in the process of traveling back and forth through time, some complications arise.

Thunder takes pity on an orphaned baby girl from the 14th century, and convinces Guard to adopt and raise her in the 21st century. A few years later, when the girl is in elementary school, a new shipment of alien prisoners arrives, this time carrying a particularly dangerous rebel. When some of his allies attempt to help him break free, the whole of Earth is put in danger.

Meanwhile, a parallel story is unfolding in the 14th century. Muruk, a gifted but somewhat hapless tao magician (if a film can have aliens, why not also wuxia-style sorcery?), learns of a mysterious “divine blade” for which an unimaginably high reward has been promised. He sets off in pursuit, but this will lead him to places that he never could have imagined. How this second narrative is linked to the first is a complex mystery slowly revealed throughout the course of the two films Alienoid and Alienoid: Return to the Future.

It’s hard to overstate the ambition of this film project. Director Choi Dong-hoon and producer Ahn Soo-hyun, the team behind smash hits The Thieves (2012) and Assassination (2015), conceived it from the start as two separate feature films. They raised funding for both films at once and shot them simultaneously with an all-star cast over 13 months in 2020-2021. With its hugely complex special effects sequences, considerable time was also spent in post-production. When the first part of the film was finally released amidst the pandemic slowdown, and failed to attract a wide audience (surely, this would be a challenging film to market even in the best of times), it must have been a great disappointment for all involved. But that doesn’t change the fact that this movie is highly entertaining and completely unique. Its quick pacing and complicated plot mean that some concentration is required to keep one’s bearings. But on the other hand, the characters are so vivid and Choi Dong-hoon’s gifts for storytelling and dialogue make each scene so entertaining that the time passes quickly. It’s true that Alienoid ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but viewers can then dive straight in to Alienoid: Return to the Future. (Review to be continued…)

Darcy Paquet
Film director: CHOI Dong-hoon
Year: 2022
Running time: 142'
Country: South Korea
29/04 - 11:05 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
29-04-2024 11:05 29-04-2024 13:27Europe/Rome Alienoid Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine
Online in Italy until the end of the Festival