Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War Reviews

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paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2012
The action is probably more intense than Saving Private Ryan and that means something! The story progresses from a slow beginning to an epic finale that might bring some to tears. Well worth watching!
Super Reviewer
September 7, 2011
Let's be real; Saving Private Ryan is a better movie then Tae Guk Gi. This is movie tries too hard to be exactly like Saving Private Ryan- the action, the cinematography, the camera work... But behind all the technicalities comes a very moving and powerful character-driven story that is more riveting then Saving Private Ryan. In comparison to the incredibly gritty "Saving Private Ryan", Tae Guk Gi is more of a blockbuster movie that has more stylized action and drama. Still, this is a must watch.
Super Reviewer
½ March 19, 2009
I'd never have taken notice of the movie had it not been from the Oldboy director. I've no intention to patronize him, but he's done an outstanding job. His execution of one of the scenes still amazes me. It matched my facial expressions exactly with that of the character for that scene. This has been a unique experience for me.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 26, 2007
Superb Korean war movie which focuses on two brothers who are drafted into the south Korean army after the communist north start to invade further south. The story is moving and powerful and the battle scenes echo those of Saving Private Ryan's with its gritty realism and bloody graphic violence. It's a must-see film that doesn't get embroiled in the political differences and portrays the ordinary people whose lives are turned upside down by the horrors of war.
Super Reviewer
½ November 23, 2010
"I wish this was all just a dream. I want to wake up in my bed, and over breakfast, I'd tell you that I had a strange dream. Then I would go to school, and you and mom would go to work."

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.
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2010
This was definitely a war movie. Yikes! If someone likes many, many graphic and disgusting war scenes, well this is their movie. Holy cow it was intense. The times that they stopped to have some intimate moments was worth the whole package, however. Well done story. Lots, and lots of action.
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2009
Shallow & simplistic to say the least & it's a pity because it had potential, The big brother's change of character & two brothers' interactions & confrontations could have saved the film but the whole thing fails to deliver anything special & memorable and goes for cheesy moments with super-cheesy music, The battle sequences are well-made though
Super Reviewer
½ May 29, 2007
Directed by: Je-gyu Kang.
Starring: Dong-Kun Jang, Bin Won.

<< "I wish this was all just a dream. I want to wake up in my bed, and over breakfast, I'd tell you that I had a strange dream. Then I would go to school, and you and mom would go to work." >>

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.


<< "Wills are for dying people. You've got to be strong." >>
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2008
A dramatic and emotional story thrown into the setting of your typical war movie. The only problem with these types of movies is you really need to be a fan of the genre to get the most out of it. At least we get a taste to see how Korea does it.The start of this movie is similar to Titanic. A few minutes in the present to set up the story of the past. While it is nice to use the time travel element like this, it does give away the ending. I guess the reason to continue watching a film like this is to see how the ending comes to be. Fortunately, for this film the how is quite good. The concept for this story deals with 2 brothers that end up in the war and although that may not sound original, the story is told nicely. You get to see how war can change a man.You have your typical flow of drama, fight, drama, fight, drama, etc. There are a ton of fights in this film, which is nice, but at the same time this film is just a little bit too long. Seeing people get shot, blown up, and killed can be entertainment, but seeing if for a good part of 2 and a half hours is a bit much. With that said this movie is bloody and gory, which it should be. Blood and gore are definitely appropriate in the telling of a war tale.The acting is good. The main actors express the right emotions at the right time and they make you feel the bond of brotherhood.If you want a nice emotional story and don't mind the war genre this should be on your must see list. Just make sure you can stand the violence.
Super Reviewer
October 15, 2007
Excellent Drama...Very Intense...Beautiful! ^_^
Super Reviewer
½ June 1, 2007
When two brothers are conscripted to fight in the Korean war, the elder makes a deal with his commanding officer to win the Medal Of Honour in exchange for his brother's freedom. This Korean war film is clearly heavily influenced by Spielberg; the gritty and brutally realistic battle scenes are very reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan and are similarly impressive, and the modern day prologue/epilogue is very much in the same vein as Schindler's list. The personal relationships and characterization lack the subtlety of those films however, and I felt the characters were a little too sketchy and melodramatic to create any real emotional resonance; the result can best be described as a "heroic bloodshed" version of Platoon. As a visual spectacle however, it is stunning and as this particular conflict is rarely tackled by western cinema, it makes refreshingly different subject matter.
Super Reviewer
½ December 6, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]In "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War", Jin-Tae is the elder brother to Jin-Seok in 1950 Seoul. Jin-Tae is a shoeshine with dreams of running his own shoestore one day while Jin-Seok is on his way to university. But their plans are interrupted by the invasion of North Korean troops. They flee south but at a railroad depot, Jin-Seok is drafted on the spot. In an effort to liberate him, Jin-Tae also ends up inducted. At the front, they stay together in the same unit. After a ruinous defeat, Jin-Seok is almost killed after his weak heart nearly gives out on him. Jin-Tae petitions his commanding officer to have his brother sent back home. He says there might be a way if Jin-Tae wins a medal of honor...so Jin-Tae throws himself into combat with a near suicidal bravado.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[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]
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2012
A fabulous tale of family divided by war...so often told but often poorly executed. Here it is a success. The best work is done in between words with an expression or glance.
Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 2007
Great look at the Korean war from a Korean perspective.
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2008
Despite rave reviews by friends and family members, I expected a mindless war movie filled with gore and buckets of blood...but was pleasantly surprised. And I am glad for it.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ July 26, 2009
This film by far one of the best I've seen this year. Dong-Kun Jang and Bin Won are brothers when the Korean War breaks out. In the tradition of Saving Private Ryan...this movie illustrates the horror of war and the gut-wrenching separation between soldier and family. Jang and Won have terrific brotherhood chemistry. I highly recommend this film!
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2009
Brotherhood of War was above my expectations.This film draw me so deeply, I forgot I was reading subtitles. This film had very realistic battle scenes, It was done in the style of "Saving Private Ryan", which was a very good film, but I found this better. The cinematography was of the highest quality for a foreign film of its type. Although there was plenty of war time action, this movie was about more than that.

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.
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2007
This is an updated review because I had to watch Saving Private Ryan again to compare. I have to say that I now feel this movie is better. The story is so much more deep. But a very moving story that shows that the casualties of war are the people that survive it.
½ December 26, 2012
I didn't write this review; however It is very well written: The battle scenes are amazing in their scope and vehemence. But in the breaks between fighting, the movie reminds us that the costs of war can exceed the loss of life and limb.
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