The company GEN has created a unique cyber sex doll that can change its identity based upon its surroundings. The doll is called I.K.U. and the company has decided to send it out into the world to collect data and the only way it is able to collect data is to engage in sexual activity.
One word I do not like to use is 'pretentious' since it's one of those stock terms that people call back to when trying to bash a movie that does something different or at least tries to. Instead of rehashing either visuals, stories, or characters for the millionth time or because the movie had not been dumb-down for them. But I cannot think of a more fitting term for "I.K.U.". A film that touts itself as being the first porno to play at Sundance (and further proving what a sham that event is), and then it constantly has its style praised by fans and complimenting its artistic vision.
I would be more than happy to accept any of these if the movie actually had any style, artistic direction or integrity.
The only problem is that "I.K.U." is nothing more than a self serving vehicle for Shu Lea Cheang to experiment in her multimedia style without it having to be on her own dime. This movie also goes to show that if you call "porn" art, which to call this movie porn is quite a stretch, people will be more than happy to parade it as such. Now I will not ignore the fact that the movie does have a sense of style and some decent art values, mostly within its set designs. But when looking at both its art value and cinema value; "I.K.U." is close to being devoid of both and is as shallow as spit.
Clearly with a film like this, you cannot expect an atypical movie, I certainly wasn't, but there is no reason or any substance to anything that goes on. I'm more than happy to enjoy a film that is meant to be nothing other than a visual experience and exist without reasoning. Though "I.K.U." does try to have a story and a reason, but it's a very flat and superficial one that bounces from one vignette to another. With each one focusing more on the cheap visuals and the sexual acts of the scene while completely ignoring anything else.
Alright, fine. It doesn't have anything with depth to offer a viewer. That's when the filmmakers are supposed to step up to the plate and give us something, in the case of a movie like this, some interesting visuals. Sorry, but you won't find those here. As I've said; Shu Lea Cheang is a multimedia artist so this medium is her specialty and should be something that nobody could touch her on. The truth though, is that this is a visually dull and uninteresting movie. "I.K.U." is filmed and edited in a hyper music video fashion and bombards the viewer with lots of cheap computer images and neon colors. Maybe I'm just old fashioned and can't get into this style, but it seems like I could turn on MTV and find any pop artist's music video and get the same thing. However, the movie does have a very artistic direction in terms of set designs, so much so that it's a shame that they aren't given much focus as the movie quickly cuts to something less interesting and less appealing. Leaving you unable to appreciate the one valuable aspect the movie manages to have.
So this movie left me no choice but to do something I do not enjoying doing, and that is to call the movie itself, the filmmaker, and its popularity/fan base nothing but pretentious bullshit. I'm not denouncing (not entirely) Shu Lea Cheang as she is clearly good at what she does and I could just be the wrong crowd since the modern multimedia genre is not an area I'm a big fan of in art. But as an art film this couldn't be a worse representation of that style of cinema. I even have a hard time considering this a cyberpunk film, let alone a staple in the Japanese cyberpunk subgenre. The movie is a reflection more of today's cyber-rave (Honestly, I'm surprised there wasn't a scene of someone doing ecstasy.) culture with the amount of bright-neon colors used, the quick pace, and sexual ambiguity of the characters. The movie never really demonstrates technology or the relationship between man and machine; instead it's more of a display case for what modern tech was available at the time the movie was made. In general though "I.K.U." is strongly lacking in the visual department, which is what the fans try to sell you on. Then it has zero support structure within the movie for anything that goes on, and with meaningless vignettes that are as uninteresting as the visuals of the movie. There just isn't any point to "I.K.U." other than an artist who wanted to practice on an alternative medium.