Jung_E is the new Netflix No.1 movie — stream it or skip it?

Kim Hyun-joo as Yun Jung-yi/JUNG_E in Jung_E on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Last week Netflix unveiled an impressive lineup of more than 30 Korean movies and TV shows (opens in new tab) set to hit the service in 2023, and the first offering from this slate is already making some serious waves. 

Jung_E is a new sci-fi thriller movie from Yeon Sang-ho, the director of Train to Busan and Netflix’s own Hellbound series. Released on January 20, the film has rocketed straight to the No.1 spot in the Netflix most-watched list. That’s an impressive achievement in just three days and it sees the film surpass the likes of Dog Gone and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which now rank second and third respectively. The current Netflix top 5 is rounded out by Sing 2 and The Pale Blue Eye

Naturally, you might now be wondering if Jung_E is worth watching this week. So, if you’re debating adding the sci-fi thriller to your watchlist, you’ve come to the right place, as we’re here to help answer whether this new Netflix movie should be streamed or skipped. 

What is Jung_E about?  

Set in the 22nd century, Jung_E presents a nightmarish future Earth that has been devastated by climate change. Due to the inhospitable conditions on the planet’s surface, humans now live in man-made space shelters. But these interstellar havens are anything but safe. 

A war has broken out among the remnants of humanity with some of the shelters claiming to be part of the newly-formed Adrian Republic. Captain Jung-Yi (Kim Hyun-joo) is an elite leader of the allied forces striking back against the republic, but when her final mission goes wrong, she ends up in a coma. 

Using advanced AI technology, a mysterious organization is able to clone Jung-Yi’s brain to create a superpowered mercenary named Jung_E which they believe is the key to winning the war for good. But nothing is ever that straightforward when it comes to cloning...

Jung_E reviews: What the critics say 

Right now, Jung_E has a 64% score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). That’s not going to earn it on spot on our roundup of Netflix movies with 90% or higher, but it does indicate the movie has attracted more positive write-ups than negative ones. Coincidentally, its audience score also comes in at exactly 64%.

Al Horner of Empire (opens in new tab) said, “Jung_E delivers where it matters: propulsive action sequences, emotive drama and grand existential questions about the human connections that sustain us” although they only awarded the movie three out of a possible five stars. 

Meanwhile, The Verge (opens in new tab)’s Andrew Webster was particularly complimentary about the film’s well-respected director: “Sang-ho is a director who continues to find new angles and ideas even in the most crowded spaces.” 

However, Roger Moore of Movie Nation (opens in new tab) wasn’t quite as impressed calling the movie “a thriller bookended with humans vs. robots shootouts, and stuffed with boring corporate intrigues in between” and concluding “there’s little human connection to any of it, making for a rare soulless misstep for action auteur Yeon Sang-ho.” 

Should you stream Jung_E on Netflix?   

If you’re looking for an over-the-top sci-fi thriller that will keep you entertained across its 100-minute runtime, then Jung_E could be exactly what you’ve been looking for. It’s probably not going to live very long in the memory, but it’s a non-stop thrill ride — and sometimes that’s all you want. 

It’s also great to see more foreign-language content finding an audience on Netflix. The smash-hit success of Squid Game appears to have emboldened the streamer to take more chances on Korean content, and the almost-instant success of Jung_E would further indicate that was a wise move. 

Jung_E is definitely a movie worth streaming if you want to kick off your week with some cinematic escapism. And, hopefully, it’s just a sign of things to come from Netflix movies in 2023

Rory Mellon
Deals Editor

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.