In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 ... See full summary »
Based on a true story of 1968 Korean Republic Army plan to assassinate North Korean president Kim Il-Sung. 31 criminals and death row inmates are recruited into secret training on the ... See full summary »
In 1950, in South Korea, shoe-shiner Jin-tae Lee and his 18-year-old old student brother, Jin-seok Lee, form a poor but happy family with their mother, Jin-tae's fiancé Young-shin Kim, and her young sisters. Jin-tae and his mother are tough workers, who sacrifice themselves to send Jin-seok to the university. When North Korea invades the South, the family escapes to a relative's house in the country, but along their journey, Jin-seok is forced to join the army to fight in the front, and Jin-tae enlists too to protect his young brother. The commander promises Jin-tae that if he gets a medal he would release his brother, and Jin-tae becomes the braver soldier in the company. Along the bloody war between brothers, the relationship of Jin-seok with his older brother deteriorates leading to a dramatic and tragic end. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
No other UN soldiers are seen in the film other than South Koreans, despite the very large role that they played in the war. Likewise, the Chinese, who would be the principal Communist force after late 1950, are only seen once or twice in the entire film. See more »
A modern Canadian flag can be seen at the Military Hospital in Daejun among a group of other flags. The scene in the movie is dated July 1951, but the modern Canadian flag was introduced in 1965. See more »
[pulls out Jin-seok's pen that he lost]
I found this in the fire. I've been holding onto this for you.
Give it to me... when I see you again.
See more »
I'm not a big fan of war films, unless the war in question was at least a couple hundred years ago or somewhere in the future, or the stars - but I did enjoy SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, if "enjoy" is the best word to use for such an experience. Apparently, director Kang Je-Gyu (SHIRI) enjoyed SPR too, as its influence on his Korean war film TAEGUKGI is impossible to deny. SHIRI was the South Korean film that probably did more than any other to bring the country's cinematic new wave into being, and especially into the field of view of the rest of the world at large. Its main accomplishment was, arguably, demonstrating that Korea could make a film that competed head on with Hollywood product, in terms of slick production values but also perhaps in terms of vacuous scripts Although it is rather shallow compared to other Korean films, though, I think it's safe to say that SHIRI had more depth than Hollywood would have injected into a similar story.
TAEGUKGI is his first film since SHIRI, and he's definitely playing the Hollywood game again - tackling Spielberg head on this time. Like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, TAEGUKGI attempts to humanise war by giving us some specific characters to focus on (in this case, two brothers played by Won Bin and Jang Dong-Kun) - and then uses our personal connection to show us that war is actually a dehumanising experience. The film also spares no effort in showing us the ability of bullets, knives and bombs to turn human beings into squishy piles of gore.
There's a fairly obvious political symbolism in the story of two brothers and the effects the Korean war has on their lives and relationship - I don't know if it would be fair to read the ending as a view about the conditions under which Korean reunification might occur though. The ending of the film won't come as much of a surprise, since it's basically foretold at the start with a scene set in the present day. The exact details might be a little unexpected though.
If you like your modern-ish day war films, and specifically if you liked SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, then there's very little doubt that TaeGukGi will impress. It's big, slick and well put together. Since it's not my favourite genre or topic of interest, I can't say I loved it like a brother, but was sufficiently satisfied with it given what it is.
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