Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War Reviews
The movie depicts ups and downs between two brothers who are forced to draft in the 1950 Korean war. It shows how the priorities of one brother change momentarily as he gets to taste some fame, and its terrible outcome before he can snap out of it. While it's not yet-another-war-film IMO (of course, there are few familiar zones), it's certainly no masterpiece. The movie has its moments and is worth a watch if you can sit through scenes of guts falling out literally (on-screen). After all, although brotherhood is its heart and soul, it's also a war film to an extent.
A drama about the fate of brothers forced to fight in the Korean War.
I know very little about director Je-gyu Kang. He made three films overall and quite interestingly none after 'Taegukgi' from 2004. His creation is very different from the one coming from the other famous Korean director Ki-duk Kim, or from the Korean commercial cinema (horror or science fiction films) which is somehow known in the world.
'Taegukgi' can be considered to a large extent a replica to 'Saving Private Ryan' by Spielberg. It's a war story involving two brothers caught in the turmoil of the Korean war, with very different personalities and destinies. One of them is the strong character and his initial purpose is saving his younger and weaker brother, sparing him the rest of the war and sending him home. In time his destiny changes and his character seems to head towards the apparently inescapable brutality and insanity of the war. The film becomes at the same time a realistic rendition of a civil war in which the borders between good and evil slowly disappear, as well as a metaphor of the tearing apart of the Korean nation, with the two brothers ending by fighting on opposite camps. The final sacrifice reestablishes the balance but the reconciliation and the peace never come, only death puts end to the life long waiting and desire for getting back together.
Much of the screening time is filled with the war scenes, some of the best I have ever seen, and Spielberg's movie comes again in mind as the obvious reference. It is hard to say whether the story of the two brothers happens on the background of the war, or it is the war that catches the center of the attention and the story just flows with it. The effect is however strong, the story is moving and for the non-Korean viewer this is an opportunity to learn something about the history and feelings of a nation that is still divided.
Starring: Dong-Kun Jang, Bin Won.
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The story follows a family in 1950's South Korea. You have the mother who owns the noodle shop, working hard to feed her family, Jin-tae, the oldest brother is a shoe shiner and is the same as his mother, works hard to support the family, especially his 18 year old brother Jin-seok, who plans to go to university. When word of war breaks out, Jin-seok is in the age range to become a solider and is sent away without word. Jin-tae hears word of this and fights his way onto the train and goes along to do everything he can to send his brother home....but what follows will test the brothers human nature and sanity.
Je-gyu Kang is really a genius at what he does, being both writer/director on this film, he brings some amazing things to the plate. The concept around this war expertly created, many realistic themes such as sanity, friendship and family are tested by each beautifully formed character and the horror of war is put against them and we feel it. Although it really does aim for melodrama, you can't help but be swept away with it and you soon realize that there is an emotional core beneath Je-gyu pulling at your heart strings.
The battle sequences are intense and about as close to realism as we have seen since Saving Private Ryan. It isn't big flashy Hollywood style where you have over the top explosions shot from countless angles, the dirt flies, the gore feels real and the bullets hit hard...and this is all put against some beautiful and moody landscapes shot beautifully and tragically by the cinematographer.
The acting though I do feel two ways about, during moments of silence, the actors expressions are put to the test and its emotional, but there are times when the sound comes back and it all seems a bit too over-the-top, hence the melodramatic way they wanted to go with the performances.
Many compare this to Saving Private Ryan and there is nothing similar except for the concept of war. If I was to compare, than I would say that Saving Private Ryan is the American masterpiece on war, while Tae Guk Gi is the Korean masterpiece. Not only is it a horrifying and searing look at the Korean war, but it is also an emotional and powerful look at humanity, family and love.
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[font=Century Gothic]"Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War" is a graphic well-made war movie that is subtle as a grenade explosion. The movie never relents which just left me numb. Even the non-combat scenes were handled with a lack of nuance. A particularly egregious example is the farewell scene at the train station. All of which is a shame because the movie does touch on themes of dehumanization and rampant anticommunism.[/font]
The movie is laced with powerful emotions and unflinching illustrations of the Korean War, depicting both sides of the infamous war which split the nation into two along its 38th parallel. The film does not hesitate to show the brutality with which either side treated each other, and Won Bin and Dong-Gun Jang play their respective characters to their utmost and with compelling beauty.
I kept expecting Won Bin's character to fall to his doom with his inability to cope with the violence of war and bloodshed; but it was precisely his innocence of mind that lifted him from the mire that had ensnared his brother's soul.
The movie brings a better understanding to those who are unfamiliar with Korean history, with a personal touch, besides.
The backbone of the film was the brotherly love between the two brothers. The film was between intense action scenes and also scenes where they showed their inner feelings, and mental struggle. The brotherly love was deep, so much that it caused tension between themselves. It was shown with such chemistry.The performance by the actors and the directing was superb.