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Kim Tae-ri brings 21st-century firearms back in time in "Alienoid."

Opening this week at Cinemark Alliance Town Center and AMC Grapevine Mills, Alienoid is by no means the best alien-invasion film of the season, but it is the goofiest Korean movie I’ve ever seen, which means it’s possibly the goofiest movie ever made.

The story takes place simultaneously in two timelines. In 1391, a bumbling wizard (Ryu Jun-yeol) seeks to gain possession of a miraculous sword called the Divine Blade. The wizard calls himself The Marvelous Muruk, even though he’s only powerful enough to conjure up two cats who do his bidding. I should mention that the cats can take human form (Shin Jung-geun and Lee Si-hoon), but they’re not much more useful as people than they are as felines. In the present day, a shape-shifting robot disguised as a man identified only as Guard (Kim Woo-bin) tries to prevent a plot by his fellow aliens to convert the Earth’s atmosphere to his native planet’s air, which would kill everything living here. Linking the two is Lee E-ahn (played by Choi Yu-ri as a girl in the 21st century and Kim Tae-ri as an adult in the 14th century) who’s after the Blade and also knows about the aliens.

If that sounds like a lot, there’s even more packed into this movie’s 142-minute running time. We’re talking about another shape-shifting robot (voiced by Kim Dae-myung) that can turn itself into a car, a spaceship, or Guard. There are people in modern dress with modern weapons running around the 14th century and scaring the hell out of the citizens of Goryeo. A homicide cop in the present day (So Ji-sub) is so bad at his job that he’s not allowed to fire his gun, only to throw it at people. A servant possessing important information is named Dog Turd (Kim Ki-cheon). A bit of slapstick comedy results when two sorcerers (Yum Jung-ah and Jo Woo-jin) are poisoned and have to fight each other over the antidote even though they’re both completely paralyzed and on fire. Maybe the most emblematic piece of humor here comes early on when a blacksmith accidentally stabs a random guy in the heart with the Divine Blade, and the other customers in his shop are all like, “Oh, that’s unfortunate.” Don’t feel bad for the victim — he gets up and walks away, which is really good considering he was a paraplegic prior to his stabbing.

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Writer-director Choi Dong-hoon, whose World War II thriller Assassination played here back in 2015, lets his madness run free here. He pulls off a couple of nice set pieces, one where the alien ship follows the detective into an underground parking garage and another when the aliens let loose a cloud of lethal red gas in the middle of Seoul. With about half an hour to go here, our modern-day characters decide to Avengers: Endgame this whole thing and travel back in time. I’d be lying if I said I could make sense of all of this, but then, Alienoid is the first half of a two-part epic whose other half will see release next year. Truly, I can’t imagine what awaits us then.

Alienoid
Starring Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Woo-bin, and Kim Tae-ri. Written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon. Not rated.

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