Geek Review: The Moon (더 문)

There have been countless movies about being stranded in space because it’s one man against the vastness of the universe. From Duncan Jones’ breakout hit Moon (2000), where Sam Rockwell becomes mentally unstable after being on a solo moon mission for too long, to Alfonso Cuarón’s award-winning Gravity (2013), which saw Sandra Bullock trapped alone in space after the destruction of her space shuttle. Then there is Ridley Scott 2015’s classic, The Martian, which sees Matt Damon stranded on Mars and more recently, China joined the club with Zhang Chiyu’s Moon Man (2022), which saw Shen Teng become the last human on the moon after an asteroid wiped out life on Earth.

So how is South Korean director Kim Yong-hwa’s space survival drama any different? Well, the biggest draw is that the movie stars Doh Kyung-soo, a 30-year-old dude affectionately known as D.O. by his fans. Those familiar with the K-pop scene will know Doh as a member of the South Korean-Chinese boy group Exo, and this boyish actor’s involvement should be enough to secure big bucks at the box office.

The story also fuels South Korea’s patriotism as after the country’s first manned mission to the moon fails, a second attempt launches young astronaut Hwang Sun-woo (Doh) successfully, only to have him be stuck in space, and it is up to the national space centre to bring him back safely, with the help of its former managing director Kim Jae-guk (played by Sol Kyung-gu from the hit TV series Kill Boksoon).

A large part of the 129-minute movie sees the trapped Sun-woo experiencing one catastrophe after another, as the poor guy is thrown around in the space vehicle, runs for his life when a meteor shower hits, and even cuts himself in the flesh to stay awake – while everyone back on Earth look worried, and try all means to bring him home. One can only imagine the trauma he is going through, considering his senior crewmates (played by Kim Rae-won and Lee Yi-kyung) have tragically died. But one also wonders why he took on the mission in the first place, seeing how the former Navy Seal seems helpless most of the time.

As the movie progresses, we see a K-drama unfolding and realise how the young man landed himself in such a sorry state. Without saying too much, it has to do with Jae-guk’s past and his hot-headed personality. Adding to the drama is Yoon Moon-young (portrayed by Kim Hee-ae, who has received multiple acting awards at home), a female general director at the NASA space station. She has the burden of working with somewhat racist male American officials, and also happens to be Jae-guk’s ex-wife. You can see where this K-drama is going because remember, no one can hear you scream in frustration in space.

Despite the well-meaning scenes to show Jae-guk, Sun-woo and Moon-young’s emotional connections, they slow the movie down. The storytelling is predictable, and we would have loved to see some of the fun elements that the director injected in his commercially and critically successful Along With The Gods movies (2017 and 2018).

This science fiction action flick scores when it showcases its ultra realistic special effects and production design. One memorable sequence has Sun-woo springing across the rocky surface of the moon in his bulky spacesuit, and the adrenaline rush is real as he has to avoid crashing meteors. These tightly edited scenes, along with those filmed in a claustrophobic shuttle, will make you feel that you are stuck in space with the poor dude. At least he would then have someone else to panic with.



Familiar strains of K-drama aside, South Korea joins the club with this space survival movie featuring ultra realistic action sequences but adds little more to the genre.

  • Story - 6/10
  • Direction - 7/10
  • Characterisation - 6.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 6.5/10