In the powerful tradition of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers comes this box-office hit from Korea.From the director of Shiri comes the epic tale of two brothers. Jin-tae, a shoemaker, has worked tirelessly to provide money for the younger Jin-seok to go to college. But each of their hopes and dreams are shattered when both are forced to join the army against their will. Torn away from home and family, Jin-tae vows to protect Jin-seok despite the dangers and the cost. In the searing crucible of battle, fate intervenes, forcing their bonds of faith, love and trust to be tested time and again in this suspense-filled, action-packed war drama.
A big, bruising epic of the Korean War, Tae Guk Gi
smashed box-office records when it played in South Korea in 2004, almost as though the country needed to re-live the trauma at a 50-year distance. For the rest of the world, this movie looks like a ground-level reckoning in a melodramatic key, with an authentic feel for battle lines as well as home front. Tae Guk Gi
follows two brothers--one uneducated and forceful, the other intellectual and reserved--as they are united and then divided by the conflict. The broadly emotional story has some of the power of tales of the American Civil War, when family members found themselves on opposite sides of a battle. Director Kang Je-gyu , who made the lively female-assassin hit Shiri
, takes a blunt approach to the material (including a Saving Private Ryan
-style framing device). And at 150 minutes, he has plenty of time for head-splitting, blood-spraying combat. This movie is meant as a punch in the stomach, and it connects. --Robert Horton