The Front Line Reviews
A really well done war flick with some terrific battle scenes. The story pretty formulaic with war is hell, leaders suck, why are we doing this, etc. but still an intense movie that seems shorter than its 2:13 run time.
It does a good job of showing why war is such a waste and how it is so dehumanizing.
This is a modern "epic" war movie about the Korean war, a war that somehow feels "forgotten" in many ways. Due to ideological manipulation by the Soviet Union and Chinese communists, a whole nation on the peninsula turned into a purgatory during the early 1950s and thousands of people lost their lives despite the fact that it was people of the same origin and the same ancestors in the foxholes. "The Frontline" shows the atrocity of killing, hope, loss, survival instinct, sacrifices and the aftermath of war. It´s well made, but my personal problem with "The Frontline" is the feeling of some sort of of "comic" structure specifically during the first 30 minutes that sort of lowered the bar for me. The movie picks up after that, but it never fully recovers from that opening in my eyes. However, the movie does communicate several important messages you need to process and take with you. The stupidity of war, the helplessness of being a soldier, the result of blind politics and the manipulation of ideologies.
But the generals cannot leave it alone.
Well worth seeing
Some times it may seem like there have already been too many war is futile movies but then with the latest warmongering, it becomes perfectly clear again we can never have too many. One of the more recent, "The Front Line," which as uneven and episodic as it is, still has quite a few neat touches like the box and a massive dose of irony in its final act. Set in the final days of the Korean War, the movie is also about the last chances for any kind of reconciliation for the country, as the final barriers are about to go up.(Since this is told from a Korean point of view, I wanted to see what they called this war there but according to Wikipedia, it depends on who you ask. Oh well.) Even though the South are the protagonists, the movie does not denigrate the North as villains, either.
Incredibly well-shot battle sequences. There's room for emotion and humanity in among all that though, and this propels the movie forward.
Solid acting all round.
The Front Line (or Go-ji-jeon in Korean) is a drama centered on the Korean War's final battle that will determine the border between north and south. The film plot main issue is finding its footing in what story to tell. It takes a while (around 1/3 of the running time to be more specific) for it get to the standstill battle over Aerok Hill and finally explore the soldiers mentality on the war and personal feeling knowing they could kill the enemy they're communicating with. It is exactly here at Aerok Hill when the film becomes formulaic almost crossing the line of being repetitive. At Aerok Hill we get an attack to obtain the hill, chat between the soldiers, looking in a secret box and sending supplies to whoever opens it. What makes the repetition worth enduring is what I said earlier is the human exploration of war. Like if soldiers should keep fighting even in a non advancing standstill? Will the enemy be more sympathetic taking your life if they know you better? The other welcome addition is a subplot involving a sniper. The sniper subplot won't provide as much action as one might expect instead providing more the dramatic content than anything else.
Director Hun Jang and writer Park Sand-Yeon do a decent job telling a story. They won't be applauded by their storytelling abilities, but will be respected for presenting both sides of the conflict without demonising or undermining the other. The acting is solid as a whole with no standout of any kind. The battle scenes were badly staged. Mostly the troops run up or down a hill, shooting as they go. To get some idea of the unreality of it all: at one point the SK troops lose the hill and retreat in disorder...but when we meet them next (only minutes later)they are all sitting around without their weapons chatting in a camp.
The Front Line is held back from its own formula from being great, but is a film that put the soldiers first over spectacles. It won't be the film one might expect as first glance though they might just find something they liked just as much.