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Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo (original title)
When two brothers are forced to fight in the Korean War, the elder decides to take the riskiest missions if it will help shield the younger from battle.

Director:

Je-kyu Kang (as Je-gyu Kang)

Writers:

Richard Epcar (dubbed version), Ji-hoon Han | 2 more credits »

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12 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Dong-Gun Jang ... Jin-tae Lee
Won Bin ... Jin-seok Lee
Eun-ju Lee Eun-ju Lee ... Young-shin Kim
Hyeong-jin Kong ... Yong-man
Yeong-ran Lee Yeong-ran Lee ... Mother Lee
Kil-kang Ahn ... Sergeant Huh (as Kil-Kang Ahn)
Jin Jung Jin Jung ... Sergeant Lim
Jae-hyeong Jeon Jae-hyeong Jeon ... Yong-seok
Min-ho Jang Min-ho Jang ... Old Jin-seok Lee
Yun-hie Jo Yun-hie Jo ... Jin-seok Lee's grandaughter
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Won-hee Cho Won-hee Cho
Min-sik Choi ... North Korean Captain
Do-Hee Go Do-Hee Go ... Young-Guk Kim
Taek-ha Hwang Taek-ha Hwang ... Platoon Soldier #2
Dae-Hoon Jeong Dae-Hoon Jeong
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong graphic sequences of war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

3L Filmverleih [Germany]

Country:

South Korea

Language:

Korean

Release Date:

24 September 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War See more »

Filming Locations:

A-San City, South Korea See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$363,439, 5 September 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,111,061

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$76,287,982
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

In the scene where North Korean soldiers ambush Jin Tae and several other South Korean soldiers while they're laying mines, one of the South Koreans steps on a mine and it blows his leg off. However, the M15 Anti-tank mine, which was the mine they were using, requires a force of 350 to 750 lbs to detonate. See more »

Quotes

Jin-tae: [pulls out Jin-seok's pen that he lost] I found this in the fire. I've been holding onto this for you.
Jin-seok: Give it to me... when I see you again.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also released in a directors cut running 148min.8min longer than the US and original version See more »

Connections

References Saving Private Ryan (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Oppaneun punggakjaengi
Written by Kim Song Kyu and Park Yeong Ho
Sung by Park Hyang Rim.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A 'Brotherhood' For The Ages
26 November 2004 | by ncc1205See all my reviews

Nations do not fight wars. Citizens fight them, and these citizens are honorable men and women who serve their country willingly or, as history shows, by decree of a desperate government.

As a result, patriotism has become the unlikeliest casualty. Once welcomed in the trenches of battle, patriotism has lost its limbs, fought back from life support, and suffered shell shock. Once easily recognized, patriotism has become a bit of a chimera, an ideal more easily attached to definable characteristics than it is any single soldier. However, in the bitter end, patriotism is defined by the actions of these individuals who serve; it is rewarded by the nations who sponsor this service; and, more often than not, it is measured in hardships endured.

Such is the complex, ever-changing battleground of writer/director Kang Je-Gyu's 'Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War.'

In 1950's Seoul, Jin-Seok (Won Bin) and his older brother Jin-Tae (Jang Dong-gun) are enjoying a strong family life of perfect happiness. Suddenly, they find their lives turned upside down as soldiers of the South Korean government seize them – all men aged 18 to 30 are taken – and they are forced to take up arms – despite their lack of training – against the approaching North Koreans. On one brutal battlefield after another, the bonds of family are put to increasingly demanding tests as Jin-Tae – originally driven by his responsibility to protect his younger brother – continues to further exhaust his physical and emotional prowess despite the protests of Jin-Seok. He learns that he is a good soldier, one with a talent for inspiring others as well as an unanticipated thirst for killing the enemy. Eventually, these two brothers – once bound by a love for family – find themselves at odds within this new brotherhood of war, and the pressures to prove one another continue to exact heavier and heavier tolls as the war escalates. As circumstances evolve, the brothers inevitably find themselves on opposite sides of a losing conflict … but can either find a path to redemption or reconciliation that can save both of them?

There are many elements of 'Taegukgi' that elevate the film from the status of standard war film to a message of hope set against the backdrop of war. The film's scope is grand, dealing with the far more intimate themes of family, brotherhood, and personal responsibility when Director Kang Je-Gyu could have easily opted for banging the drum of nationalism. At its core, 'Taegukgi' is the story of two brothers, a strikingly poignant analogy for the entire North Korea / South Korea dilemma. While the battlefield choreography is as frenetic as it is harrowing, it never takes the film's center: this picture is founded on relationships – the human perspective to the world outside – and it never falters. Instead of focusing on history, Kang Je-Gyu crafts every scene to highlight the thoughts, actions, and emotions of the participants of history, and, for that, 'Taegukgi' deserves countless accolades.

Much like exploring the heart of darkness as depicted in American classics as Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now' and Oliver Stone's 'Platoon,' Kang Je-Gyu forces Jin-tae to explore his own budding evil, and this journey is not without its own relative scars. Once a man has crossed over and embraced wartime madness, can he ever truly find a way out? Arguably, if 'Taegukgi' suffers from any setback, it is that perhaps Jin-tae goes too far for an audience to accept his madness: believing his brother to have been killed by North Koreans, Jin-tae turns traitor once he is captured and seeks to wipe out every soldier serving South Korea. While the story offers the motivation for so drastic a change, it's hard to believe that the man who once fought so valiantly against the spread of Communism would suddenly choose to embrace it.

Still, it's a small diversion … but it's necessary to bring the aspect of brotherhood full circle, to have these two unique men face their darkest hour, and to make one final statement on the role that family inevitably plays in every man's life.

Recently, thanks to the worldwide success of 'Taegukgi' and 1999's blockbuster 'Shiri,' Director Kang Je-Gyu has signed an agreement with Hollywood's own powerhouse, CAA, to produce his next film in America. Only time will tell whether or not this agreement will afford some of the 'Korean sensibility' to American films, but certainly having one of South Korea's premier directors breaking into the Hollywood film system is a tremendous advantage for fans of international film.

Only the passage of time will earn 'Taegukgi' its rightful spot alongside the other great films dealing with the consequences of war.


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