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Reviews & Ratings for
71: Into the Fire More at IMDbPro »Pohwasogeuro (original title)

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30 out of 37 people found the following review useful:


Author: wolverine34 from United Kingdom
2 January 2011

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I do enjoy watching war films, especially true stories, as they generally depict the horrors of war. Right from the start I was hooked, and was not disappointed.

It is a pity films from Korea, Japan, China, and other oriental countries are not included in the Oscars or bafta awards, but then America and Britain wouldn't have so many winners.

This film is typical of this as it has some great acting and is filmed extremely well. It also shows you don't need a budget like that of some Hollywood movies. The biggest thing for me is that it is a true story and is dramatised well. Without being too political, with the ongoing problems in Korea, they could have made the North out to be animals, but they don't.

For a film that probably wont be mentioned at the big ceremonies, it is a loss for film-making. I would highly recommend this film if you haven't seen it yet. Would love to see Britain make films as good as this, but I haven't seen many, recently, that comes close. That is just my opinion though.

As with all films though, don't go by opinion, watch it and decide by yourself, but I think you will enjoy the movie.

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: 71: Into the Fire

Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
25 October 2010

War film action junkies sit up and take note, as 71: Into the Fire should be written into your books as a must watch if you haven't already made plans to do so. Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan may have set the bar and raised expectations many years ago with regards to the use of strained colours and realistic war violence being portrayed on screen, and in recent years even China too got into the act through Feng Xiaogang's The Assembly. While tales of heroism during WWII have been aplenty done by filmmakers from the West, I can only think of a handful done in the East to meet that kind of scale. This is one of them.

Directed by John H. Lee, the basis of the film reported came from a letter from one of the 71 deceased South Korean student soldiers, which chronicled their Alamo experience and moment as the few who had to stand up to the invading North Korean masses in very David and Goliath measures. Tasked with the strategically important defense of Pohang while the rest of what's left of the South Korean army and UN coalition defended the Nakdong River area, this is not 300 where a group of battle hardened soldiers led by King Leonidis tragically fended off the huge Persian army, but a group of rag tag students with little military experience being told to hold their ground for 2 hours against a fanatical, professional army before reinforcements arrive.

You can feel the sense of urgency and desperation throughout the film, as Lee doesn't forget to remind you how dire the situation was, with the tremendous loss of territory over a period of four months to the North Korean forces sledgehammering its way down south, and the reliance of students to take up arms in what could have been a tactical lesser of two evils. The UN Coalition is stretched thin, and the makeshift Captain of the ragtag student group, soft spoken Oh Jung-Bum (T.O.P), has some serious growing up to do if he is to lead the students, being one of three who have had some combat experience. Making things difficult is the inclusion of criminals like Kap-Jo (Kwon Sang Woo) who's just happy to be out of prison to lend his weight to the fight, but as with any army that requires discipline, here is one man and his two lieutenants who prefer the contrary.

From the get go you'll get thrown thick into the action with loud gunfire and pretty much everything exploding on screen from artillery and other big guns fire, as Jung-Bum wanders around his battalion doing errands like topping up and delivery of magazines and rounds to soldiers, only to find his side of the forces constantly retreating, and being caught up in a life and death situation. Clearly not the hero he thinks he could be, he soon gets sent packing into a truck and again the North, under the leadership of Commander Park Mu-Rang (Cha Seung-Won), is triumphant and merciless in their taking of additional territory.

More set action sequences are to follow, and each are carefully crafted to reap maximum effect for the film-goer as we root for the student soldiers as they stand their ground, and rely on their street smarts to come up with some form of defense system to protect their minuscule turf. While luck has them chancing upon caches of abandoned weapons, improvisation meant the welcoming of Molotov cocktails (still a weapon of choice for guerrilla styled riots), and various forms of gas/fuel+fire combination. Not being military strategists, the students are susceptible to the oldest trick in the book like ambushes, and each challenge they come up toward meant a reduction in their already pathetic numbers.

Perhaps it is their making of such naive mistakes that draw in on the harshness of war, where director Lee doesn't spare us much of the gory details from bursting wounds and machine gun fire from up close ripping up bodies. As the adage goes, don't die for your country but make the other bastard die for his. However this film depicts Koreans killing Koreans, so therein lies an opportunity to address some of this insanity why people ought to be killing their own comrades and countrymen, even having the North Korean commander at times exhibiting being a maverick willing to go against battle orders, albeit to satisfy his bruised ego that had been wounded by a bunch of students against his own troops.

There's no lack of drama and tension as well, brought on when Jung-Bum and Kap-Jo have to go head to head in order to earn each other's mutual respect, but before that the gangsters' shenanigans prove to be running against the grain of the student soldier's mission. For Jung- Bum, we witness how he matures from boy to man, while Kap-Jo learns about responsibility and what it means to be counted upon, in contrast to his selfish ways since the enemy is now real and right at their doorstep. Unfortunately while this film has 71 student soldiers split into two platoons, realistically you're not going to have to get to know all of them, so only these two fly the character development flag for the rest.

Well made with excellent production values and sets depicting the state of war affairs during the Korean War, 71: Into the Fire will go into my books as one of the best this year in its genre. Highly recommended, especially when viewed on the big screen!

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Great movie & great acting

Author: natalie_twins87 from Vietnam
5 November 2010

The movie is great because they did not try to make it huge: it was just telling a simple story about 71 young student learning and struggling in the real war.

The main actor: Choi Seung Hyeon (who is also known as TOP in Big Bang) did a great job. He acts impressively with his eyes, showing us how a student knowing nothing becomes to get to fight, to kill for the sake of his own team. Other actors did not show the best of them, especially Kwon Sang Woo. He could do better than that, but I feel that the character he played was not fully described. The music was not very impressive to me, however the effect was quite real and well-done for a Asian war movie. Since this is based on a true story, the end can easily be predicted, but that does not mean it was a boring end. They show us how people die in war: they may have different backgrounds but still can become real soldier once needed.

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Great Casting! Great Acting!

Author: jrweyrich from United States
30 July 2010

I have been waiting for this movie to be released in the US ever since I saw the trailer on last month and read all the hype. Plus, one of my favorite Korean actors, Cha Seung Won, is one of the four leads. This guy can do it all--comedy and drama, and he does not disappoint as the North Korean commander in this movie. This is the first time I have seen him on a big movie theatre screen and the camera loves him. DVD rentals on my TV are not quite the same--too bad more Korean films don't get US theatrical releases. Also giving excellent performances were Kim Seung Woo and Choi Seung Hyun--two actors who I first saw in last year's Kdrama, "Iris". Rounding out the lead actors is Kwon Sang Woo--another good performance and my first time seeing him in a theatrical film. All the supporting roles were also very well cast. If one likes war movies, this one is not to be missed--especially since it is based on a true incident during the Korean War. Direction, sets, costumes, music--all were well done. This film merits more than one viewing at the movie theatre.

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20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Don't hate

Author: loopedd from United States
19 August 2010

This movie overall was really well made. The acting was great, the special effects were good, and the movie was easy to follow. Since this was based on a true event, the ending was not going to be a huge surprise. Compared to most American films in the past two decades, this film had a low budget (about $10 Million USD). Most of the critics comment TOP from Big Bang being casted just for pure publicity, but he is a good actor as proved from a past Korean drama he did called IRIS. The sadness of the Korean War and the desperation of the people at that time were wonderfully portrayed. We should take this movie as a harsh reminder of the Korean War and wars around the world in general. You may think that this might never happen… especially to you of all people but the harsh reality is that is can… There is no one to blame for the Korean War; not the soviets, North Koreans, South Koreans, Chinese or the anti communist nations. We only have over selves to blame for war, and no one truly wins one.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Movie About Choices

Author: zlarthon from United States
13 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"There is no one to blame for the Korean War; not the soviets, North Koreans, South Koreans, Chinese or the anti communist nations. We only have over selves to blame for war, and no one truly wins one."

So states a previous reviewer; but that's wrong.

The North invaded and killed their "brothers." Stalin had to approve the use of Soviet tanks. The historical documentary proofs are available to researchers.

There really is good and evil in this world. We choose which side to join.

The students chose to sacrifice themselves to defend their homeland. The North Koreans chose to kill students. Their sacrifice was only a small part of the whole Korean War; but their example still inspires people.

This film tells that story rather well. We can all look at these examples and choose to live our life the right way. Or not. Doing good is not easy and often painful.

We can fight to enslave others, fight to free them from slavery, or just run away and hide. What will we do?

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

My 388th Review: Clearly partisan but very good war film

Author: intelearts from the big screen
20 March 2011

As I know little about the Korean War apart from MASH I didn't really know what to expect. I was very impressed and surprised at how good 71 is. The true story of the 71 students who defended their line for 11 hours against the might of the communist North is told with passion, humor, and action. It is somewhat clichéd - but this works in its favor - what we get is a Braveheart feeling for a small but very well-made war film.

The two main leads are competent, if a little OTT in their roles, but again by the end this pays off and I really have no complaints - if moving, and exciting war films are your thing then this is definitely worth viewing.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great movie

Author: namjihoon
1 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Great movie. It depicted the struggles of South Korean student soldiers so well. They were very patriotic, especially in the times of the major battle where the student with round glasses drove into the tank with missiles. Another where the guy drove himself into the machine gun mini tank thing. Another one was when the almost dead South Korean turned oil on and burned the place. A lot of NK soldiers died during that part. Also, when Gapjo (Gwon Sangu) was shot by a pistol by Park Murang(Cha Seung Won) he tried to stab him but failed. The Jungdaejang(T.O.P or Choi Seung Hyun) loaded one last bullet when Murang tried to shoot him, and they shot themselves at the same time. It also depicts the love of Koreans to each other. They have a close bond, and they love themselves as soldiers. Just simply great but could have been better. I don't see Staff Sergeant Jones. Where is he? I only saw the Major or someone who gave the super bazookas. The graphics were very superb as well. Great war movie to watch if you want some laughs and tears(last part) where (Kim Seung Woo) hugs (T.O.P). Fantastic movie.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Heartfelt Korean War epic

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
19 November 2012

A heartfelt and passionate Korean War epic, 71 – INTO THE FIRE marks the epitome of self-sacrifice, brotherly love, and gung-ho soldierly bravery. It's a simple enough tale which, crucially, really happened: 71 schoolboys were tasked with holding back a North Korean division single-handedly during the Korean War in 1950. What follows – their holding-out against impossible odds - sounds too good to be true, but yes, it really happened, and it makes for great movie-making.

The only South Korean war movie I'd seen previously was the superlative BROTHERHOOD, so I had no idea what to expect from this production. I got it all: thoroughly engaging characters, an interesting storyline and typically stylish direction. Yes, it's a slow builder of a movie: it takes an hour and a half before things really get going, but then the climax hits and you've rarely seen anything so intense and devastating in equal measure. Solid performances throughout contribute to the overall feel that this is a great movie.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Good not great

Author: nick-zieminski from United States
5 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's not bad. It's not great. From the few English-language comments about 71, one can piece together that it's a movie vehicle for local teen heartthrobs, kind of like casting the Jonas Brothers in a recreation of The Alamo or the Tet Offensive. There's even a short, bittersweet dance sequence before the final slaughter, as the unprepared volunteer soldiers await the attack by North Korean troops. I'm sure it's meant as a wink to the actors' fans but it plays just fine on a dramatic level, not least because it's brief.

The movie seems to have had a good budget for a Korean actioner, with support from the military. It's shot with very narrow depth of field, a choice that may seem unnatural for a panoramic war movie but heightens the shock and subjectivity of the experience for the teenage heroes, who are in way over their head from the get-go. There are two superb sequences. One is a chase through the woods, as the south Koreans chase a North Korean sniper, who's been sent to draw them out. They follow him into a wheat field where "the commies" are nestled, camouflaged a la Tom Berenger in Sniper. The inevitable firefight doesn't go where you'd expect it to and adds to the tension between the young captain who leads the student soldiers and the cocky thief who's been dumped on their squad.

The second great sequence follows soon after. The top North Korean drives straight into the enemy's compound, white flag waving, and undermines the hero's credibility with a simple offer: surrender and we'll let you live. The surrender scene is a combat trope par excellence, but here it's handled with such slow Leone-style build-up and centered on a terrific performance that it's elevated into something special. It takes a good two minutes for the white-clad North Korean just to get out of his Jeep, wipe the dust off his boot and condescendingly shove a useless prisoner back into the ranks, before he even opens his mouth. As the scene wears on, it becomes clear the hero will have a mutiny on his hands. Good stuff.

The movie is nuanced toward the North, as the southern heroes repeatedly discover the humanity of their enemy. Eastwood did something similar with his pair of Iwo Jima movies and I don't know enough about Korean culture to say whether this signifies changing attitudes toward the North.

The final battle, some 20 minutes worth of wanton slaughter and deeply saturated pyrotechnics, using a wide variety of period hardware, is notable for its use of physical stunts and squibs and for its clear delineation of the space it takes place in, something a lot of action movie makers have lately forgotten. What it lacks utterly is suspense because the movie makers have already shown us that reinforcements are coming and the heroes' fate is already etched in history. To quote Josey Wales, "If things look bad, and it looks like you're not gonna make it, you gotta get mean." These student soldiers get mean, all right.

For all its emphasis on gore and painful ways to die that recall the gut wound death scene in Ryan, the movie also stoops to really icky sentimentality in these final moments -- indeed, throughout the story, as it cuts to shots of hysterically wailing moms as the young volunteers are trucked off, and a cringe-inducing letter-writing voice-over probably inspired by Saving Private Ryan. It's tonally wrong, just as the earlier comic-relief with a fat soldier who eats raw potatoes feels wrong, and it's this sort of weirdness that is keeping even big budget Korean movies from breaking into the American market. Maybe Brett Ratner should re-edit and chop down this one, like he did the Bollywood movie Kites.

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