|BACK TO REVIEWS||BACK HOME|
'Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo' (Aka in America: 'Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War') **** (042505)
The Work = ****
'Swiri' had a lot of talent but I just couldn't get into it. The opening grabbed me but after that I really couldn't stay that into it. 'Taeguki', however, I enjoyed all the way through. Well, I enjoyed as much as one can enjoy a painfully dark war picture.
It seems that 'Saving Private Ryan' has to be one of the most influential movies in recent cinema. The brutal war footage, the washed out colors, the handheld cameras, and the high contrast pallet making the whites onscreen pop have become commonplace in war movies and hell, even in movies and television shows that have nothing to do with war.
Sure that look was around before but 'Saving Private Ryan' used it to the extreme and Steven Spielberg directed knock out action sequences. I thought the film's opening and closing did not work and some of the story elements were not so hot. It seemed almost disingenuous next to the film's action elements.
What Je-gyu Kang and his crew get from 'Saving Private Ryan' is the look, the book-ended opening and closing story structure and the brutality. That is about where the similarity ends. 'Taegukgi' tells the story of two brothers caught up in the Korean War in 1950. The movie follows the brothers who are forced by the South Korean government to enlist and fight against the communist North.
Over the course of a year or so the two brothers will go from young men to hardened soldiers. The older brother Jin-tae (played by Dong-Kun Jang) works on the street cleaning and repairing shoes so that he can help pay for his younger brother Jin-seok (played by Bin Won) go to school. When Jin-seok is picked up by the military in a draft raid Jin-tae goes to get him out and is drafted as well despite there being a law that only one brother may be drafted.
I remember reading that the Korean War had some of the bloodiest fighting in recent history and this film shows why that may be true. The country was ripping apart in a civil war with foreign support from different countries aligning either for or against communism. The trouble is, many of the civilians were drafted against their will. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time and woosh, here's your gun, go for communism, or woosh, go fight against it.
That is not to say that the soldiers didn’t believe in their cause. It is one thing to believe and support a cause and quite another to be told to face certain death and kill as many as you can for it. Actually, the film does a tremendous job of giving a window into just how blurred the line could be. For instance before the war the communist party used to hand out for in the South to help promote their cause.
Many were poor and needed to feed their families. They took the food as the communist party was giving it away. All the people had to do was put their names down. Flash forward to the ending months of the war. Those who put their names down are now rounded up and executed as communist traitors. Brutal stuff.
'Taegukgi', I think, goes on a little too long. There are twists towards the end that seem a little out of place in the film. Still as a whole it is a strong movie and parts of it were incredibly moving. I’m surprised that this movie didn’t at least get an Oscar nod. If you feel you can sit through a lot of graphic violence than I recommend Taegukgi, it is an often moving film.
DVD = ****
All together = ****
Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.