My Way (2011)
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Where do I begin...Gone With the Wind meets Chariots of Fire with an overlay of shifting loyalties which purify and forge the pure gold humanity of the spirit through changing tides of war a la Outlaw Josie Wales.
I've heard talk of Oscars...yes...give all of them to this film and everyone involved. This is the most astonishing portrayal of actual battle that I have seen in any film. Anyone who thinks war is something cute to watch for entertainment on CNN is going to think again. Anyone with a vague idea of what soldiers and civilians went through in WWll is going to have a far deeper appreciation for what war really means and has meant.
Taking the high road under the most torturous conditions possible to human endurance is polished, burnished and weighed in the balance of the validity of the human soul where it tips the scale forever into cinematic mastery.
In this sweeping epic featuring little known as well as better known history (at least to a contemporary Western audience), some helpful historical background might be that the Japanese invaded and ruled Korea preceding WWll, ethnically Korean soldiers, hence served in the Japanese Imperial Army. That's all you need to get started.
Prepare to be riveted....
What I really wanna say Is that over and over again now it seems that every time i watch a 'good' foreign film, its REALLY good and leaves me wondering when I felt motivated enough about a big Hollywood production to start a post about it.
Hollywood seems to have a habit of bashing me over the head with some agenda or specific train of thought and I appreciate how this movie and many foreign movies I've seen similar to it in value and production either hid its agenda from me nicely, was some 'thought' I didn't understand due to historical understanding, or simply tried to provide a visual story to the best of their ability.
Whatever the case, this movie rocked and I was glued to the very end. I will be searching for more from this director.
So in a way, that makes it three films in a row that he's dabbled with men in uniform, exploring themes like brotherhood and friendship in blockbusters starring some of the biggest names in the industry. And in My Way, he teams up with Korea's Jang Dong-Gun, and Japan's Joe Odagiri who play rivals in Cain and Abel style, the former being a young boy working in the latter's family during the Japanese occupation of Korea, only for a terrorist incident to forever scar their potential friendship into deep hatred between the men, especially for Joe's Tatsuo against Jang's Joon-Sik. And their rivalry extends to their love for running long distance, almost always on par in countless of marathons they participate in.
The story written by Kang, Na Hyun and Kim Byung-In then centers the narrative against the run up to the Second World War, with the premise having to build up and culminate in Normandy during D-Day. So that takes the men, now in army fatigues with Joon-Sik being one of many Koreans forced to conscript in the Japanese Imperial Army, and under the arrogant, merciless leadership of Tatsuo in what would be convenience to further the two men's rivalry, especially when one is put in a lowly position, and the other having life and death powers over the man he loved to hate. The trio of writers managed to pack this film with enough incidents befitting any war movie, from POW imprisonment, disobedience of orders, torture and the likes, and playing on the theme of Karma, having what went around coming around to perpetrators. Not a very subtle approach though.
With a war setting, expect plenty of theatres of battles across different territories and under various banners and allegiances, such as the Japanese, Soviets, and Germans even, and you can tell where the money went into recreating their realism from uniforms, weapons and vehicles, together with the recreation of the Normandy invasion. Don't expect too much accuracy though if you think that D-Day and other battles, were won/lost in a few minutes, but one does get impressed by the effort to ensure that each battle got portrayed on as large a canvas possible, making it feel that the series of events the characters find themselves into, are far larger than their individual. There are times though that the editing and leaving of material on the cutting room floor had led to episodes being spliced together rather haphazardly, so that's a bit of a pity.
It's steeped in testosterone, if not for China's Fan Bingbing playing a bit role here as a sniper with vengeance against the Japanese at the top of her mind, and of course with her potential of opening up this film to the Mainland market. Other supporting acts include the good friends of Joon-Sik, such as Jong-Dae (Kim In-Kwon) who probably was the only supporting character given enough time for character development, and being somewhat of an in- between of the two men, offering a view of what each of them had, or could have, become. And this character alone demonstrates how adaptable Man can be when faced with circumstances that calls for that fine balance between morals, ideals and the basic need for survival. Recommended!
the battle scenes are the most realistic and intense that I've ever seen of any war film. i even rank "my way" above "tae guk gi", although the latter still comes in a very close second.
saying this movie is an epic masterpiece is like saying the sun is hot. "my way" beats out any war drama that I've ever seen hands down. 10/10 stars from me.
Inspired by a true story My Way is about two young boys, one Korean and one Japanese, who meet each other as ones family relocates. Both have Dreams of running The marathon in the Olympics and are in rivalry from the start. But when a certain event happens when they are older it becomes much more and they become enemies. Then WW2 is declared and both are forced into the Japanese army (two different ways though). Not to give to much away but after many twists and turns in the film they end up on an Infamous Day in history.
This film has it all, action, well developed characters, an Incredible story that makes you feel pretty much every emotion there is.
But if the fact this has war in it puts you off, DON'T let it as this is no war film! This is a film about two people, rivalries, friendships, and their stories. War is just in the background of it all.
My Way has not only created a brilliant war film, it takes you on a journey of redemption and emotional pain. There are so many levels to this film that it's nearly impossible to touch on them all. If you are a fan of this genre then you have to give this movie a shot. It is not just a movie; it's an experience of cleverly written and executed filmmaking that will entertain on numerous levels.
My Way tells a tale of two rivals: Korean Kim Jun-Shik and Japanese Hasegawa Tatsuo. Jun-Shik's father works as a servant of Tatsuo's grandfather in Japanese-occupied Korea. They first met when Tatsuo arrived there with his parents in 1928. Though they differ in nationality and social standings, they have one thing in common: to be the greatest marathon runner. Every year they compete in races, though Jun-Shik wins the most. One day, Tatsuo's grandfather is assassinated by a Korean terrorist, which only deepens the resentment of Tatsuo towards Koreans.
Due to an incident after a marathon race, Jun-Shik and several other Korean friends are drafted into the Japanese Imperial army. Little did Jun-Shik know that he would be serving under Tatsuo, much much later. That's it for the plot. I won't spoil anymore than that. ;-)
I find that this film is unique, not like any other war-like films, because of these two things: 1) There are at least 5 different languages spoken: Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and German. 2) If you are a Kim, initially you are forced to fight under the banner of the Sun Emperor, and then for the Red Army, and then for the Krauts. Whoopsie.
Blend of cinematography, theme and cast are top-notched! From oriental Seoul to desert Mongolia to icy Steppes of Russia to bloody Hedosk and to calm sandy beaches of Normandy France. Tatsuo is played by Japanese "Johnny Depp" Jo Odagiri (Shinobi, Azumi), while Jun-Shik is played by Korean heartthrob Jang Dong-Gun (Tae Guk Gi). Though it's a two-hour film, rest assured that you won't be left with boredom or too much drama. Fighting and battle scenes will make yourself glued to the screen. One bomb-scene where both Tatsuo and Jun-Shik flew to the air in slow-motion is really breathtaking!
Bottom line is, if you're the one who really values FRIENDSHIP, this IS a must-see film for you. =D
I'll give it 9/10. Hell no, make it a 10/10, that other point just because Kim In-kwon was in the cast and he was fantastic as usual. (I hope the South Koreans appreciate what a highly gifted actor he is. I grew up loving the likes of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford etc. I know what I'm talking about, i.e. screen charisma AND great acting skills).
Taro Yamamoto as Noda was another character played very well. For some reason he reminded me of Doug Hutchison's character Percy from The Green Mile. (It annoyed me I'd seen him before but couldn't recall where so I had to look him up. He was the card cheater in Kaiji and one of the older kids on Battle Royale.)
Back to the point. My Way = Epic movie. I loved it.
The real Kim's name was Yang Kyun-jong. He was no Olympic runner, just a regular 19 year old Korean guy who got drafted into the Japanese army. Not because the Japs were so cruel but that was the custom of the time. Sure, serving in the Imperial Japanese Army wasn't a walk in the park. He was taken prisoner by Soviet forces in the Battle of Khalkin-Gol in 1938 and lived in a Siberian POW camp for years, just like in the movie. There he volunteered into the Soviet army. He fell into German captivity during - most likely - the Battle of Kharkov in 1943. After having joined the SS Eastern Legion - and not the Wehrmacht, as in the movie - with several more Russian POWs he was transferred to Normandy just before D-Day. He survived the invasion and surrendered to the Americans. He was released from a POW camp in Britain in 1946, moved to America and actually never talked about his story, not even to his family. He died in 1992. His exodus was only uncovered in 2002 when a South Korean journalist found photos in an US war archive about SS soldiers of Korean nationality being registered as POWs in Normandy.
Now for the movie. It's simply one of the most annoying war movies I've ever seen. The true story was seemingly not exciting enough for the filmmakers so they turned it into a cheesy romantic flick. The main hero has three traits: he loves to run, he can take an incredible amount of beating (and takes every opportunity to have his stupid face bashed) and for some reason he tries to save everyone from damnation. Probably God likes it and this is why he's always saved in the very last moment before being shot, stabbed, burnt or something similar.
The character itself is outright unrealistic. Nobody stayed an innocent angel in Soviet work camps. I met a lot of old people who spent years there. A misfit like Kim would've been fed to the crows in a week. Also, nobody risked their lives for others in the Gulag camps. People simply tried to keep a low profile and shut up. They were barely living. Yet Kim (and all others) somehow manage to keep themselves well-fed and healthy.
The battle scenes are simply ridiculous. Yes, they look nice with many swishy-swoshy special effects, a lot of fake blood and clichés diligently copied in every war movie since Saving Private Ryan. But come on... The battle of Khalkin-Gol was not fought in strictly tight formations. (No battles were.) The Soviets indeed used T-26 tanks like in the movie, but they weren't idiots to send them against the Japanese in a parade formation with no infantry. Fortunately the Japs in this movie are even bigger idiots and march in even tighter formations, with only rifles and swords. Their luck is that the Russians still try to top their idiocy and all their tankers stand in the turret under all circumstances, with the hatch open. Oh bull!
Then comes a very long dragging part about the Soviet POW camp with very predictable "twists", and suddenly our hero is a Russian soldier, finding himself the _exact copy_ of the opening scene of Enemy at the Gates! For some reason the Germans, after devastating an entire Russian city, have built a hedgehog position in the middle of it, decorating a building with neat parade flags just in case the Russians can't find them. Now say, why on earth would a German unit entrench itself in a Russian city in 1941? Particularly when facing only ragtag Soviet infantry with barely enough rifles while they have tanks and heavy weapons? Oh bull again!
But our heroes survive again without a scratch, and that's heroic indeed not only because the battering they receive but also the ever-repeating heroic music which gets quite annoying by the time. Probably they can't hear it over the battle noise - good for them. Yes, yes, we also know John Williams, but we don't care how some Korean band can mimic his style. Please stop. Or die. Whatever.
Would you believe that soon comes an exact copy of the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan? Well, actually the only merit to this movie is that it shows how it wasn't exactly a birthday party for the Germans either. Otherwise the entire scene is just as ridiculous as earlier ones. Vastly overdone CGI don't compensate for the lack of realism (just how many bullets can our hero dodge?) and neither for historic inaccuracy. (Paratroopers jumping during the Omaha Beach landing, really? Hasn't it happened a day before? And why do they land just about a hundred meters from the battle after it was already won? Why would they use paras for that?)
Spoiler warning! Here comes the worst. So our heroes somehow survive the entire ordeal (good thing the battleship Iowa is only pounding the beach with very small grenades and the bombs falling from the B-17s are also really undersized) and run away... until our Korean hero finally somehow gets mortally wounded. What happens next? He gives the dog tag to the Japanese guy and tells him to become him so he Americans won't kill him. SERIOUSLY?! So the filmmakers allege that Yang Kyung-jong, who actually survived D-Day, was an impostor and in fact a Japanese colonel (and war criminal)? My, I hope his family never watched this. This feels like they spat on his grave.
The movie starts off by showing us how the lives of two boys first intersect. Jun-shik Kim (by Dong-gun Jong) is a farmer's son whose dad works on the estate of Tatsuo Hasegawa's (Jo Odagiri) grandfather. A wide class difference separates the boys, but their love of running generates a severe feud ... a rivalry that won't die easily. All of this takes place in Japan-occupied Korea, and it's clear early on that the filmmaker sets out to defend all Korean actions.
Inspired by a real life 1944 photo that shows a Korean soldier being captured while wearing a Nazi uniform, the back-story here is as strange and complex as any you have seen ... unfortunately, it is handled with the manipulative touch of a sledge hammer. As their marathon-running rivalry reaches a crescendo, both boys are drawn into the Japanese Army, albeit via substantially different routes. Tatsuo is an officer, while Jun-shik is an enslaved line soldier. Their bitter rivalry does not stop for a little thing like WWII and it leads to many moments of near insanity.
What really is impressive about the film is the three main battle scenes, especially the storming of Normandy Beach. If you have seen Saving Private Ryan, then you know the model ... however, this one takes it even further. It is intense, loud and brutal. The question of whether the rivalry can survive capture by Russians and then Nazi's, or whether survival instincts take over is really the heart of the story.
As terrific as the battle scenes are, it is impossible not to mention the hyper-editing that lasts most of the film's 142 minutes. It is hard on the senses and makes the action difficult to follow ... which is a shame for a film that offers so much realism in war scenes. Still, it's not an easy film to watch and we care enough about the two characters to put up with the eyeball attack we get in most scenes.
There are two reasons I don't give this flick a 10 out of 10. A few cheesy lines are scattered throughout the film. The dialogue in the movie isn't bad, but there are a few lines characters say that are just so dripping with patriotic moto-isms that it detracts from the movie's awesomeness.
Another thing is, I felt the director spent a lot of time on all the other battles, but the Normandy invasion wasn't given much effort to authenticity and more effort was put on effects. You see the entire invasion of the beach within a 10 minute span (not how it happened).
Other than that, phenomenal flick!!!
Great drama with lots of action story. This is one of the best war films that I have watched in a long time!
The two main actors Jang Dong-gun and Joe Odagiri, gave a strong and a magnificent performance!
The story is quite unique and it is based in the dramatic true story of a young Korean named Yang Kyoungjong, who was forced to fight with the Japanese imperial army, with the Soviet army and then with the German Army.
The film is an inspiring story about survival and the friendship among two young men of two very different backgrounds, culture and social status.
The story is very realistic, with some crude war scenes. The scenarios are also very real, and vivid.
"My way" is an exciting and unforgettable film!
I hope the actors and the director of the film win many awards.
The story of this movie spans such a vast geographical area and a huge scope of events, however never fails to show those little sides of man. The characters are not black and white and they evolve throughout the story.
You really get a feeling that war is basically people going through the same misery, making the same mistakes, just in a different setting. In fact, some people in this movie even learn from their mistakes, which is original.
An emotional roller-coaster around the world in which people actually speak different languages, rather than English accents.
I am so glad I did, and I dare say it gives those war movies a run for their money. Some other reviewer on here laid it all out, top to bottom - but I wanted to add just one more voice on here about this movie.. see it. see it. Stop reading this, and go watch this movie. Its an amazing movie, go see it right now.
Basically "My Way" is a very entertaining fantasy war movie from a Korean point of view. I definitely enjoyed watching it and it presents issues and themes quite different from the typical war movie. The characters are all complicated, as are their relationships, which change drastically as the movie progresses. It ends in an uplifting manor.
one of the things that made the movie good is that both of the main characters are incredible runners. This in the end seems what changes them from enemies, into allies.
If I had a problem with this movie, it is the extreme moral flexibility of the characters. They seemed like pawns who were willing to fight for whatever side gave them a gun. They didn't seem driven by any particular cause except short term survival. That could be for or against Korea,Japan,China,Russia,Germany and America. I know this was rationalized various ways along the way, but i just never was comfortable with it. I also did not find it credible that anyone would turn POW's into armed fighters nearly so easily, or that they could forgive heinous things done to them so easily. That part was hard to swallow.
Ultimately it was a war fantasy for people who like war movies.
WATCH THIS BRILLIANT FILM NOW
Who ever gave this movie more than 1 star is very much enjoying hating the Japanese, and/or enjoying being lied to, without thinking how physics or the military work, without informing themselves on the events or without asking themselves if that would really work 'in the real world'.
Shameful movie, even more shameful propaganda. I don't enjoy being lied to my face in such manner.
Good- detailed, interesting, good story, good acting, realistic, full of action, foreign languages are understandable if you speak them...ext..
Bad-sometimes shaky action or hard to ell who is who, watched with subtitles since not in English.
The bad of this movies can be ignored. I will watch it again. This movie is underrated mostly because it is foreign movie.
If you are a real fan of ww2 movies and would watch with subtitles (unless you find an English version) then this should be your first choice.--- this movies inspired me to look for movie Korean movies.
They could've taken it a little easy on the camera shake. That's really my only flaw with it. Everything else is on point or better. This movie gave me lots of new insights on world war 2 and I wasn't bored a single second of it. Go ahead and watch it now if you haven't. You're missing out.