Space Sweepers is a South Korean sci-fi film co-written and directed by Jo Sung-hee, released in 2021
In the year 2092, the Earth became almost uninhabitable. UTS Corporation builds a new orbital home for humanity that mimics Earth's natural processes; however, only a select few are allowed to ascend and become UTS citizens, while those who remain on Earth breathe polluted air.
To regulate the population in orbit and to monitor non-citizens, UTS governs them through a strict set of rules and taxes. Many noncitizens around the world work as space scavengers, collecting space debris that floats in Earth's orbit and selling it to the company's factory to survive. The plot follows a team of space scanners and their ship, Vitória.
Victory's crew has Kim Tae-ho, Tiger Park and Bubs (an android), all led by Captain Jang. Tiger Park handles the ship's machinery and was a drug lord on Earth. Bubs used to be a robot soldier, but now he helps to repair the ship and throw the net into space garbage while saving to get a complete skin graft. Captain Jang was one of UTS-sponsored children's geniuses and created several high-tech inventions for the company, but, after discovering the company's true functioning, he became a pirate and tried to assassinate James Sullivan. His crew was killed and Sullivan survived, so she changed her identity and had an eye transplant. Tae-ho, who was once a child soldier, is looking for his daughter (Su-ni); that was lost and ejected into space after space junk collided with the station they were staying at. Her sole life goal is to pay the authorities' recovery team to locate her body tracker before she leaves orbit and gets lost in space forever.
After catching a car floating in orbit, they discover a child in it. News says that she is a robot named Dorothy, and has a weapon of mass destruction within her, created by the terrorist group Black Fox. The team also finds a smartphone in Dorothy's bag with several missed calls from someone named Kang Hyeon-u. They call back and, assuming the other party is part of the Black Fox group, negotiate two million dollars to return Dorothy. Tiger finds Dorothy drawing in his hut and starts a conversation with her when he finds himself attracted to her.
Tae-ho and Tiger carry Dorothy to a nightclub to receive the ransom, but she gets lost in the crowd. UTS soldiers are on the prowl and a massacre ensues. Tiger and Tae-ho locate Dorothy when Soldier 01 approaches and shoots them. Dorothy's eyes change color and the trio is protected from the explosion by a kind of force field around them. Captain Jang is watching everything through a feed from the ship. She also notices the man who came to get Dorothy screaming after her and calling her Kot-Nim. The trio manages to return to the ship and Dorothy is busy drawing and playing. When asked by Jang what her name really is, Dorothy said that Kot-Nim is her Korean name. Tae-ho ignores her, thinking she is a robot, while Tiger befriends her and suggests staying with her. Tae-ho dismisses the idea and will make another connection with Kang Hyeon-u to reorganize the exchange.
Dorothy and Tae-ho find tomatoes on the plant that Dorothy helped to revive from a dead tree and sell them. Captain Jang finds papers in Dorothy's backpack and examines them. Bubs put on Dorothy and told her the story of Tae-ho. As a child soldier, Tae-ho was Soldier 01 at the age of 17. On one of his trips, Tae-ho shot and boarded a ship that was carrying several fleeing noncitizens and killed them all. He noticed a baby still alive in the arms of a dead woman and adopted the girl. She rekindled her humanity and Tae-ho found herself unable to hurt other people - as a result, he was fired from the force, homeless and reduced to a non-citizen. After a year without a home, Tae-ho became desperate and played, neglecting Su-ni. She stepped away to find a snack, and while outside there was a wreckage impact that sent her flying into space, with Tae-ho desperately witnessing a decompression lock.
A masked man follows Kot-Nim to the bathroom at the factory. Her screams about her alert Tae-ho and Tiger, who run to save her, but are ambushed by a group of masked people. Tiger defeats them all and Captain Jang intervenes, discovering that they are other collectors of space junk. Its leader explains that Black Fox is not a terrorist organization, but an environmental group, and that Kot-Nim is not an android, but a human child. Born with a congenital disease, her father, Kang Hyeon-u, injected nanobots found in space debris to save his life. The nanobots helped Kot-Nim, but they also gave her a unique power: Kot-Nim could now communicate with other nanobots and heal and protect things. Sullivan discovered this and used Kot-Nim to transform Mars into a green and healthy planet. He plans to kill Dorothy in a hydrogen bomb explosion (since nanorobots can only be destroyed by breaking them into atoms at extremely high temperatures). Given its proximity to Earth, the explosion would cause the factory to fall on the planet, destroying Earth and making Mars the only viable option for all humans.
The crew decides to unite Kot-Nim with her father and deactivate the bomb, with the help of the Black Foxes who will locate and take Dr. Kang to the meeting point. Soldiers attack them, but Tae-ho and Kot-nim manage to escape to Victory. They enter a field of space debris, where nanobots begin to consume their ship. Kot-nim communicates with them and the nanorobots are dispersed. They enter the factory where the meeting is scheduled, only to be ambushed. UTS soldiers kill all Black Foxes and Dr. Kang before kidnapping Kot-Nim. Sullivan leaves Tae-ho four million dollars in exchange for abandoning Kot-Nim. Tae-ho takes the money, but the rest decide to save Kot-Nim - even if it kills them. Tae-ho is going to give the money to UTS officers, and they hand Su-ni of his last found remains of her to him - her clothes, crayons and Korean writing book. In it, Su-ni had written that she wanted to be a good person as her father. It reminds Tae-ho of the promise he made to Su-ni, to be the best man she has ever known. He takes the money back and returns to the ship with a new zeal before everyone goes to save Kot-Nim.
Sullivan goes on air, announcing the Mars program. The bomb was set up at the factory and Kot-Nim is strapped to it on a chair. The team frees Kot-Nim, but Captain Jang discovers that the bomb cannot be defused. It will not only destroy anything in its explosion range, but it will also destroy any nanobots in the vicinity of 5,000 kilometers. The only way for Kot-Nim nanorobots (and her life) to be saved is if she is out of reach. The team goes out to fly 5,000 km, but is interrupted by Soldier 01; Tiger fights her and expels her from the factory. The team sends a message to the rest of the space scanners, who come to its aid, fighting the attacking troops. Earth's people learn of Sullivan's true goals when they hear him tell his plan through the Space Sweepers' emergency communication channel. The victory is intercepted by Sullivan himself, who tries to fight the crew to recover Kot-Nim. When it looks like they lost the battle, Tiger and Tae-ho get a final boost that puts the ship out of reach of the explosion. The crew reveals their real plan: Kot-Nim was left safely with other Space Sweepers. Victory had removed the bomb from the core and taken it away, ready to sacrifice their lives to save Earth and Kot-Nim. The bomb explodes; however, Kot-Nim called on the nanobots to protect the Victory, keeping the crew safe.
In the aftermath of the battle, UTS apologizes for covering up its true objectives and promises to help make the Earth more livable. Kot-Nim is adopted by the crew and, using his powers from her, allows Tae-Ho to say goodbye to Su-ni. Bubs takes the skin graft from her. Tiger and Tae-Ho take Kot-Nim to Earth to help grow trees and they all continue to sweep the space.
ong Joong-ki as Kim Tae-ho - Former Space Guard Commander and the first UTS Genius.
Kim Tae-ri as Captain Jang / Jang Hyun-sook - Former Special Forces Squadron officer who later abandoned his post to create his own pirate organization. She tried to assassinate CEO James Sullivan, in which his entire pirate crew was killed.
Jin Seon-kyu as Tiger Park / Park Kyung-soo - Former Drug King who escaped Earth after being arrested and sentenced to death.
Yoo Hae-jin as Robot Bubs - Former military robot trying to save money for his gender confirmation services
Richard Armitage as James Sullivan - The CEO of UTS.
Kim Mu-yeol as Kang Hyeon-u - father and scientist of Kang Kot-nim.
Park Ye-rin as Dorothy / Kang Kot-nim-First believed to be a robot, she is actually a human who was injected with nanobots by her father as a last resort to cure her.
Kim Hyang-gi as the new body of Bubs