JSA: Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA) (2000)
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Critic Reviews for JSA: Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA)
I can't be as enthusiastic.
Park Chan-Wook's Joint Security Area is a fairly straightforward whodunit with a pointedly political theme and an unapologetically humanist message.
Park's film reveals its double agency by swinging between emotion-charged flashbacks of weepie male bonding and the investigative longueurs of the icy, half-Korean, half-Swedish female officer in charge of mopping up the brotherly bloodbath.
Audience Reviews for JSA: Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA)
When two North Korean soldiers are killed in a shooting incident in the demilitarized zone of the border between the North and South, an independent investigator is called in to prevent it from becoming a full-blown international incident. Without wanting to give too much away, Chan Wook Park's story of unofficial detente is a classy "hands across the border" tale which shows how it is lot harder to make enemies of people than just drawing a line on a map. The politics of the situation almost come in for some ridicule in this warm-hearted but tragic tale that shows how mutual distrust and hate-breeding propaganda can lead to nothing but death and misery for all involved. The investigation itself is actually the least interesting part of the film, coming across as a little dry and contrived and the performances by the English speaking cast are easily the least engaging, but the flashbacks that show the truth behind the events that unfolded are handled brilliantly. Park hasn't quite perfected his trademark style yet, but all the night time scenes are really nicely shot and there is a lot of humour and pathos in the relationship between these soldiers who find they have far more in common than the politicians would have them believe. Not perfect, but it's lacking in the kind of saccharine and flag waving you'd expect from Hollywood and makes for a compelling thriller with a very human message.
A heartbreaking, poignant anti-war film that works best if you don't look into the plot too much, as to avoid the sometimes awkward plotting.
Kind of hard to believe that this is Park Chan-Wook. While an engaging film, it is a bit overly sentimental in parts. I understand that subject matter dealing with the reunification of a country torn in two would be replete with emotion, but some scenes felt like they were created for a TV movie on Korea's own Lifetime network. None the less, it is still an engaging who done it and an interesting glimpse into the psyche of a nation divided.
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