Space Sweepers

Chasing after space debris and faraway dreams in year 2092, four misfits unearth explosive secrets during the attempted trade of a wide-eyed humanoid.

Year: 2021
Certificate: 15
Runtime: 2hr 16m
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Starring: Song Joong-kiKim Tae-riJin Sun-kyuYoo Hai-jinRichard ArmitagePark Ye-rin

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Over the years Netflix has been adding more and more Korean content and there’s a lot that appeals to me – I just haven’t got around to watching any. So when I saw the trailer for “Space Sweepers” I decided this would be my introduction to Korean films – the trailer told me to expect action, comedy, sci-fi fight scenes and robots. I mean, what’s not to like from that list?

The film is set in 2092 with the Earth becoming a desolate wasteland and select people moving into space – and even looking at colonising Mars. Helping with the relocation to space is a company called UTS but space is a dangerous place. After decades of space travel the stars are littered with broken ships, damaged satellites and general ‘space junk’. This junk has brought about a new career for many people – say hello to the Space Sweepers. Teams of people that salvage the junk in order to sell what they can and make money. Our story follows the crew of The Victory: Kim Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki), Tiger Park (Jin Sun-kyu), sarcastic android Bubs (Yoo Hai-jin), and Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri).

An obvious question for many viewers when it comes to non-English films is how do you understand what’s going on? Netflix has a few options here – you can use an English audio dub or you can use English subtitles. Personally I prefer subtitles but the subtitles on “Space Sweepers” are a bit odd. There are two types available: English and English – Closed Captioned. Closed Captioned would usually include things like ‘[door closes]’ and [heavy breathing]’ rather than just the words being spoken so, when available, I usually opt for regular subtitles. In the opening scenes there are a number of different space ships, The Victory’s competition, from different countries speaking in different languages – Korean, Kenyan, English to name a few. But when they spoke English there were no subtitles meaning that, with all the noise and action, it was easy to miss what was being said. So we switched to Closed Captioned which, while all the languages were subtitled, had a few issues of its own. Annoyingly it told you the language that was being spoken as in ‘[In Kenyan] Look out!’ etc. When there’s lots of action and switching between languages the extra text on screen was quite off-putting. It also said ‘in German’ for any English and ‘in English’ for any Korean – so that added to confusion too. All that being said, it was only really near the beginning that this was a problem and for the majority of the film it only said the wrong language when it switched between Korean and English – and you soon learn to tell the difference between ‘German’ and ‘English’.

Anyway, I digress! Each crew member has their own reasons for being a space sweeper and a different goal for what they are saving up for. Tae-ho, we learn, lost his daughter when a ship crashed on Earth and she was blown into space. He is saving up to help locate her before she drifts out of Earth’s orbit and it lost forever. Bubs was a robot soldier is saving up for a complete skin-graft. Tiger handles the engineering and machinery side of things and Jang is a tech genius. Their relatively mundane and penniless lives take a drastic turn when they discover a child in one of the ships they are salvaging – this child, according to news reports, is a living, breathing weapon of mass destruction called Dorothy. Dorothy has a hydrogen bomb inside of her and was created by the terrorist group Black Fox. She is also wanted by the UTS governing bodies. They find a mobile phone with Dorothy and notice a number of missed calls from the same individual. The crew devise a plan and call Black Fox saying they will return the girl for $2 million – an amount that would significantly change their lives. However, Tiger starts to grow fond of Dorothy after she is seen drawing crayon pictures of the crew.

Visually “Space Sweepers” is stunning – the scenes are vast and details, the special effects look great and, in fact, the whole film just reeks of high production values. Admittedly the characters are a bit clichéd as their stories are revealed, but it’s a space film about an exploding robot girl – it’s hardly the most serious topic. The action and comedic elements more than make up for the mildly clichéd characters.

The return of Dorothy, as you may guess, doesn’t go smoothly and the crew are left to work out how to handle the situation with both Black Fox and UTS wanting to get their hands on the robot girl. Tae-ho, Tiger, Bubs and Jang all bond with Dorothy in their own ways and these scenes add a nice touch to the film overall. Action and adventure awaits for them all and this is where we learn more about the crew of The Victory and their backstories as well as learning about the Black Fox terrorist group and UTS and their plans. We also get into spoiler territory if I go any further into the plot…

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed “Space Sweepers”. I wouldn’t really class it as sci-fi, it’s more an action/adventure film that just happens to be set in space with a number of science-fiction themes. It’s not your typical ‘nerdy’ kind of sci-fi. It’s just fun! It looks great, the story is interesting, the cast are great and there’s a good mixture of comedy and action. It is quite a long film at 2hr 16min but it never drags and doesn’t feel that long at all. “Space Sweepers” gets a thumbs up from me!

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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