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The Forgotten War?
February 16, 2006 1:03 PM   Subscribe

"The Korean Saving Private Ryan," or Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004). Reviews. Plot synopsis (spoilers). Box Office: Over 20% of South Korea saw this film.
posted by bardic (34 comments total)

 
This movie certainly had its share of cheesy moments - as perhaps do all nationalistic war movies - but the battle scenes in "Tae Guk Gi" are some of the best I've ever seen, and I liked the present-day tie-in which was handled nicely, I thought. Also, I can't think of a film in which flying dirt looked quite so cool...
posted by stinkycheese at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2006


Good movie. This is popular among Korean-Americans as well. Very much by word of mouth.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2006


Old.
posted by iamck at 1:13 PM on February 16, 2006


I saw it last night and was mostly impressed. "Cheesy" ("stinkycheesy?") is a good word for some of it, but I'd be happy to hear from those more familiar with Korean pop culture how heroism "plays" on the peninsula. IIRC, there's a lot of anti-American, anti-militaristic sentiment in South Korea--but this movie, esthetically, is highly similar to SPR, which I liked but for the idiotic framing events at the beginning and end.

The fact that the SK soldiers had M-1's and other GI gear helped cement the impression of the "Korean SPR," but that doesn't seem entirey fair to the makers of the film.
posted by bardic at 1:16 PM on February 16, 2006


I saw it a couple of weeks ago and it was a really good film, good story, action, etc. I give it two thumbs up. Joe Bob says 'Check it out'.
posted by mk1gti at 1:17 PM on February 16, 2006


Yup, good flick, if a bit melodramatic at times.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:25 PM on February 16, 2006


Probably not a great comparison, but how does it fare alongside Oldboy?
posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on February 16, 2006


WORST.MOVIE.EVAR.

Horrible. Just plain horrible. Went back to Netflix the same day.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:48 PM on February 16, 2006


Jsavimbi, are you secretly Harry Knowles?
posted by Mikey-San at 1:57 PM on February 16, 2006


Good Korean films I've enjoyed recently - A Bittersweet Life and 2009: Lost Memories.

The Asian Invasion TV series is worth seeking out. (it's on the usual torrent sites).
posted by the cuban at 2:02 PM on February 16, 2006


I saw it, it's long, but good. But then, 9 of my top 10 movies that I saw in 2005 were Asian, so maybe I'm biased.
posted by slatternus at 2:11 PM on February 16, 2006


Tried to watch it on cable. The dub killed me. I'll watch it again on DVD someday with the subtitles.
posted by Atreides at 2:18 PM on February 16, 2006


I thought it was a good film. It's not quite Saving Private Ryan, but there is a lot of influence there. It's strange in that the film looks very good, and is shot in a realistic, shaky-cam manner, with great looking scenery, but has a ridiculously melodramatic plot. In many ways it reminded me of Enemy at the Gates, looks great, silly story.

Probably not a great comparison, but how does it fare alongside Oldboy?

It's quite different, A Bittersweet Life and Sympathy for Lady Vengence (an Oldboy sequel of sorts) are recent films in the Oldboy vein and are both very good. Tae Guk Gi is a great example of Korean "mainstream", "crowd-pleasing" cinema, which is interesing in that I think people often get a distorted view of foreign films thinking that it's nothing but art films.
posted by bobo123 at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2006


There's tons of crap Korean films - see "Save the Green Planet." /actually, don't
posted by iamck at 2:39 PM on February 16, 2006


Of the four people I personally know who saw Taegukgi, I'm the only one who thought it not terrible. Of course, I couldn't stand Private Ryan, so go figure.

*also liked Save the Green Planet*
posted by Ndwright at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2006


Jsavimbi, are you secretly Harry Knowles?

I don't think it's possibly to secretly be Harry Knowles. Much in the same way it's impossible to secretly be an elephant.
posted by cellphone at 2:58 PM on February 16, 2006


Yeah, Save the Green Planet is much, much more interesting and fun than Saving Private Ryan.
posted by Zetetics at 3:30 PM on February 16, 2006


It's strange in that the film looks very good, and is shot in a realistic, shaky-cam manner, with great looking scenery, but has a ridiculously melodramatic plot.

Pretty much my summary of A Very Long Engagement.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:38 PM on February 16, 2006


I also recommend JSA which concentrates more on the after effects of the war.
posted by like_neon at 4:01 PM on February 16, 2006


I don't think it's possibly to secretly be Harry Knowles. Much in the same way it's impossible to secretly be an elephant.

HA HA THING IS FUNNY. THAT YOU SAID
posted by jimmy at 4:16 PM on February 16, 2006


The basis of the movie IS the story. No story = crappy picture.

Take a look at a "war" classic: Casablanca. They didn't even have to put the "war" in the movie because the story was so good.

I don't care what shaky technorama you use, you still have to write a good story. Sorry, but this one was a waste of time.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:16 PM on February 16, 2006


I saw this over a year ago. Like many, many Korean films, it is over melodramatic (it rains in nearly every "modern" scene for example), but most K films don't bother me with that. FWIW, I thought Private Ryan's plot was even less believable than Tae Guk Gi. One must remember that a lot of Korean movies deal with the concept of loss and brotherhood and Koreans use cinema as a means of questioning and dealing with the split of Korea. JSA is one example, but so is Shiri, Phantom the Submarine (Korean Hunto for Red October) to a lesser extent, 2009: Lost Memories and others.

Old Boy was directed by the same person as Sympathy for Mr. Vengence and the more recent Sympathy for Lady Venegence. This violent vengence trilogy really stands out. Hard to believe that Chan Woo Park also directed JSA. Miike Takashi he is not!

Koreans have made several good comedies too, many of them being remade as Hollywood films to come. My Sassy Girl and My Wife is a Gangster will be recast and reshot as Hollywoood fare soon.

What concerns me most as an American who enjoys Asian films is the potential decrease in amount of Korean DVDs being made. Apparently DVD sales aren't very good in Korea as people download or do PPV thanks to the high bandwidth available throughout much of the country. With 95% of the mainland Chinese DVD market going to pirate product, there just isn't much incentive to make DVDs available.

FWIW, my last DVD purchases were Night Watch, Tom Yum Goong and SPL.
posted by infowar at 4:56 PM on February 16, 2006


One must remember that a lot of Korean movies deal with the concept of loss and brotherhood

Well, the Korean psyche is driven by the twin engines of jeong (which might be translated (these things can be difficult to translate) as brotherhood, or fellow-feeling, or friendlylove or something) and han (which is the seething resentment and sadness at the injustices the world has inflicted on you), so that makes sense.

and Koreans use cinema as a means of questioning and dealing with the split of Korea.

This is more a recent thing. Truth and reconciliation, South Africa style, and facing the past openly, damn the consequences, are relatively new things here, and only slowly gaining traction.

Korean movies are definitely getting better, but the melodrama and sentimentality won't change. It's baked-in to society here.

For what it's worth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:36 PM on February 16, 2006


Probably not a great comparison, but how does it fare alongside Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood?
posted by premiumpolar at 5:57 PM on February 16, 2006


I'm not a fan of melodrama either, but I wonder if there's a larger cultural difference going on. I had no idea about the twin mythology. Neat. What I've read about the film was that it was a huge phenomenon in SK--anyone know if that's the case?

Thanks to all for the recomendations for other flicks too.
posted by bardic at 6:23 PM on February 16, 2006


A Korean movies go, I preferred "My Wife Is A Gangster".

Hilarious.
posted by bwg at 6:38 PM on February 16, 2006


What I've read about the film was that it was a huge phenomenon in SK--anyone know if that's the case?

Yes, it was. It and Silmido (2003) were the first two Korean films to sell more than 10 million tickets domestically. You may be interested in this site.

I wonder if there's a larger cultural difference going on.

As I tried to suggest in my previous comment, there most assuredly is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:39 PM on February 16, 2006


Silmido was way better.
posted by taschenrechner at 7:18 PM on February 16, 2006


I liked My Wife is a Gangster until the end where they were beating on a pregant woman. I don't recall if the bad guys knew she was pregnant, but the audience did and it made me really ill at ease.
posted by infowar at 8:18 PM on February 16, 2006


(By the way, pronounce 'Silmido' (실미도) 'Sheelmeedoh' and easily impress your Korean friends.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:45 PM on February 16, 2006


Being described as 'The Korean Saving Private Ryan' doesn't really make me want to see it a whole lot. I've seen too many movies, which are far too blindly patriotic, like Saving Private Ryan. Would rather something with a more objective approach personally.
posted by pancreas at 12:23 AM on February 17, 2006


Ji-woon Kim is a Korean director to look out for. His 2003 movie "Janghwa, Hongryeon" (Tale of Two Sisters) is a pretty minimal & crazy spin on kind of horror films Japan has become so renowned for. I'm a little tired of all the flicks that've emerged in the wake of "Ju-on" or "Ring", but this one did it for me.

His latest, "Dalkomhan insaeng" (Bittersweet Life), a gangster/revenge-type film, is also supposed to be worth seeing. I have a copy but haven't gotten around to watching it yet.

Ki-duk Kim ("Nabbeun namja"/"Bad Guy" & "Samaria"/"Samaritan Girl") is another Korean director who's making some challenging & affecting cinema. Perhaps a bit of an acquired taste; a little more arty, this one.

And personally, I thought Chan-wook Park's "Oldboy" was one of the best films of the last ten years. I guess it's the sort of thing that either clicks with you or not, but the ending hit me like a 2x4 in the face.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:52 AM on February 17, 2006


Haven't seen Taegukgi yet (something about knowing that one of the stars killed herself that makes me slightly hesitant perhaps), but I've been pretty hooked on Korean cinema for a couple of years now.

My fave Korean films are those that either fall somewhat outside of the oh so popular action / melodrama / comedy genres, or give an original twist on it. In particular: "This Charming Girl", "Take Care Of My Cat", Kim Ki-Duk's "Bin-jip", "Oasis", "Happy End" (with Oldboy star Choi Min-sik), "Nabi" and "Someone Special", to name just a few.
posted by milov at 8:16 AM on February 17, 2006


pancreas, I thought Brotherhood was patriotic, but in a way both resonating with and completely different than SPR. It's worth watching for that--my sense is that nationalism is a far less black and white issue for them than for Americans, given recent history, DPRK, etc.
posted by bardic at 8:38 AM on February 17, 2006


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