At South Korea's border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking ... See full summary »
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David L. Cunningham
In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann ... See full summary »
At South Korea's border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking youths jeer them. Two nights later, Kang follows orders, opening fire at a person who has infiltrated the border zone. It proves to be a young man, one from the earlier encounter, on a drunken tryst with his girlfriend, Mi-yeong. Kang is commended, yet horrified. Mi-yeong is unhinged. Kim tries to hold onto friendship, duty, and his humanity. While Kang retreats into bizarre behavior and violence, Mi-yeong becomes easy prey to soldiers. Sickness is all. Written by
Kang (Dong-Gun Jang) is a soldier assigned to patrol the border of the North-South Korea divide. His sole job is to shoot anyone that crosses the border, as they are to be considered North Korean spies. As it holds many rewards, Kang is eager to kill someone. One night on duty in town, he gets into an argument with a gang of youths having drinks, including Mi-Yeong (Ji-A Park). As a means of defying the soldiers who they believe are just living easy off the tax payers' money, Mi-Yeong crosses the border with a young man and the two have sex. Kang spots the man's head and opens fire, killing him, and throws a grenade that blows him apart. Mi-Yeong descends into madness, stalking the army camp and having sex with various soldiers. Kang also goes mad with guilt, and is eventually dismissed from the coast guard, only return with vengeance on his mind.
As good as the premise for this film sounds, I really did find it disappointingly amateurish. The interesting themes lying throughout the film are drowned out by bad plotting, and simply unbelievable incidents. How Kang, a relatively green soldier with no real combat experience, turns into a super-slick Jason Bourne-alike who can deceive a whole patrol overnight is just ridiculous. It's clear that director Ki-Duk Kim is trying to portray the soldiers as useless, but the amount of times they are disarmed by having their weapons simply grabbed out of their hands is unrealistic. And some scenes are just repeated over and over again, notably Kang appearing, ravaged by madness, not realising he has been dismissed, only to be told he is mad by his ex-fellow servicemen and punched and kicked away. It gets tiresome quickly, and appears that the director just ran out of ideas.
It's not to say that some parts of the film aren't effective. The tragic Mi-Yeong, having slept with many of the soldiers believing them to be her dead ex-lover, finds herself pregnant. Her brother, enraged, demands that the soldiers responsible come forward. Mi-Yeong kisses the guilty men one by one on the cheek, gleefully unaware of the gravity of the situation, only for her brother to stare horrified as one after the other step forward. The scene where she crawls into her brother's fish tank, bloody from a forced abortion, is truly brilliant. The water fills up with blood as she sits there, unable to grasp what is happening. It's a powerful scene in a disappointingly poor film.
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