Critic Reviews

59

Metascore

Based on 10 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
83
This strong, assured Band of Brothers-style drama from director Jang Hun makes universal points about bonding, misery, loyalty, and the senselessness of war through a portfolio of soldiers.
75
The action in The Front Line is bloody and tense, but the movie also reduces war to its simplest terms, defining it in terms of the reluctant soldiers who know that only accidents of birth and location determined which side of the battlefield they inhabit.
75
As North Korea undergoes a highly publicized change of leadership, The Front Line proves timely. In fact, one of the movie's army commanders looks like the north's new baby dictator, Kim Jong-un.
70
Village Voice
Tightly directed and well acted (even though many characters are cut-outs from every war movie you've ever seen), The Front Line shoehorns little known history into a familiar format, and it works.
65
What ultimately makes the film compelling is the extent to which it uses the shared language of cinema to telegraph the caustic feelings of a people toward their own history.
60
A movie that reserves its final sickening wallop for a grueling half-hour that leaves you as emotionally battered as the soldiers are forced to return to hell for one last senseless round.
50
Slant Magazine
Both brutal and sentimental, this Oscar-submitted Korean war drama offers up rusty tropes as telling ironies.
50
Jang and screenwriter Park Sang-yeon recognize the situation's senselessness but can't resist ramping up the melodrama and celebrating the heroism of the battle-fatigued soldiers. These contradictory impulses, combined with the film's undercooked characters, make The Front Line a war movie not quite worth engaging.
40
A huge hit in its native country, Hun Jang's epic doesn't lack for spectacle or incident: In addition to its war-what-is-it-good-for? moralizing, it also piles on bloody battle scenes, subplots involving a sniper and a supply chest, and a nihilistic last-minute twist. What you don't get is the sense that this pumped-up combat-fatigue chronicle is pandering-or, for that matter, particularly original.
40
While its tone and humanity offset the futility of each side's need for one crucial hill, much of this intense, honorable film is too drawn-out.

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