J.S.A. - Joint Security Area
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[[NOTE: This is an unedited reproduction of my original Amazon review of the "Import" edition of this DVD, post dated June 15, 2002; hence some of the information presented herein may be in need of a few minor 'update' tweaks]]
Spotlighted as one of the most expensive & highest grossing domestic Korean films to date (ranking third in overall audience attendance in Korea for a domestic film, just behind "Chingu" ["Friend"] and "Shiri" [or "Swiri"], and just ahead of the quirky romantic comedy "Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo" [aka "My Sassy Girl"], "JOINT SECURITY AREA" -- (Korean title: "Gongdong Kyeongbi Kuyeok - JSA") -- is one of those stories which starts off confusingly, but by the end ties everything together neatly and beautifully with some of the most sincere and genuine raw emotion ever experienced in a feature film.
"JSA" begins with a couple of contradictory flashbacks of an assassination-type event which takes place in a guardshack North of the DMZ (demilitarized zone) in the Joint Security Area, each based on the 'official version' of the story as propogated by North and South. As the film progresses, we are pulled along by a third and equally contradictory flashback, this one apparently revealing the truth not only of that fateful night's event which nearly ignited a small war between the two Koreas, but also giving us insight as to what led up to that point, and does so very tenderly and emotionally.Read more ›
What unfolds is the story of a complex friendship between a pair of northern soldiers with a pair of southern soldiers. Chan Wook Park is gaining fame for his Revenge Trilogy as well as his part in Three... Extremes, but out of all his work it is JSA that stands out for me.
He handles the friendship between the soldiers masterfully; they form a strong bond, looking at each other as brothers, but at the same time there is a sense that the bond will be easily broken.
At the end, when we see that a throw away scene actually has a meaning, it is enough to bring a person to tears.
There is more to the deaths of the two North Korean soldiers, and the two South Korean soldiers being questioned by the neutral investigators that makes this film so different and outstanding. This is one of the better films to tackle a suspenseful subject matter that I have seen in a long, long time. The film moves between the present and the past. Each giving the viewer vignettes of what has transpired that has caused this tragedy. And although the film is tragic, there is also hope in the film: Hope for those who wish to see a better tomorow between this divided nation.
The storyline and cinematography is excellent, and as usual, Park Chan-wook weaves a magical tapestry of a film. He is truly one of the greatest directors in the business today. In fact, he is a directorial artist. [If there is such a term] He has a vision of directing that very few in the business have today: Every subject matter he seems to tackle comes off brilliantly. I look forward to more of his films. [Take notice Hollywood!] I recommend the film highly, you will not be disappointed. Highly, highly recommended. [Stars: 5+]
J.S.A. stands for “Joint Security Area”—a location along the DMZ (de-militarized, aka intensely militarized) zone between South and North Korea, at which international peace-keeping forces are stationed and representatives from the two sides can meet to negotiate their differences.
The basis for the story is a bizarre event involving front-line soldiers from the two sides. Something went terribly wrong. A bunch of (maybe 5) Northern soldiers were shot and killed, at least one South Korean soldier was also killed, while another, who limped away and was rescued, is being hailed as a hero by the South. The two sides have radically different versions of the events. South Korean media are announcing that the Northerners kidnapped a Southern soldier, or pressured him to defect, and the other members of his squad rescued him in a shoot-out. The North says nonsense—five of our guys are dead and only one Southerner—the South clearly started this, and is trying to blame it all on the North as usual.
A female Korean with Swiss citizenship, is assigned the conflicted task of “getting to the bottom of it all”—but only if that bottom doesn’t actually blame either side, because that could trigger a conflagration while tempers on both sides are running so high.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is actually a very well made whodunit with some very interesting political tie in's to the Korea's seriously strange relationship at their borders. It's worth the buy.Published 12 months ago by Alex
At times the movie just doesn't work, but when it does it really knocks it out of the park. The buildup to the end is tense and the acting is exceptional. Read morePublished 16 months ago by David E. Finger
A well produced very interesting movie on the North Korean-South Korean conflict.Published 16 months ago by Danny Kwabena
A Korean classic. Watch the Korean language version with subtitles. An excellent film.Published 19 months ago by Gregory W. Brown
four guys sitting around - and the North Korean ones suffer more than they deserve but with dignity and graciousness - that's the messagePublished on June 6, 2014 by vvv
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