Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Korean title: 태극기 휘날리며 (Tae-geug-ki Hwi-nal-ri-myeo)

What’s popping:

Gosh, so much. I’ve been putting off writing a review on this excellent movie because I don’t know where to begin. There are so many layers to the film, you’ve just got to watch it and let it speak to you. I guess the best way to go about this is to tell you what I took away from it.

  • Jang Dong-gun (장동건) and Won Bin (원빈) have my respect as actors. They portrayed their respective roles beautifully. Jin-tae (Jang) is a selfless yet ruthless soldier who goes to extreme measures to protect his younger brother during the Korean War (1950). Jin-seok (Won Bin) starts out as an innocent boy who quickly transforms into to a brave young man who (at the same time) is confused and terrified at his elder brother’s transformation. Talk about growing pains, huh?
  • The brothers’ different personalities. In the midst of the atrocities, one seems to have lost all compassion while the other still has a lot of heart.
  • How the devastating civil war affects the nation, families and individuals. Friends are forced to kill one another, families mercilessly torn apart, and as in all wars, human rights become a thing of the past. Heartbreaking.
    Happier times: Brothers Jin-tae (Jang, left) and Jin-seok (Won Bin)
    find their reflections in the window amusing.

  • How a pure thing such as brotherly love can be grotesquely tainted, causing blood brothers to doubt each another.
  • The line between good and evil blurs as doing evil actually produces good?! In the film, we see that selflessness drives the lust for ambition and power! Man, what a study into the human psyche, huh? In extreme conditions like this, there is no black or white, just gray.
  • Taking sides during the war is not necessarily a matter of choice; mostly luck. And the saddest part is, the deep wounds are still there as the nation is still dreaming of a reunification.
  • War sucks…big time.

The plot:

A stirring (and sterling) piece by director Kang Je-gyu (강제교). This Korean blockbuster is about two brothers who are forcibly enlisted in the army when the Korean War breaks out. Elder brother Jin-tae makes a special request to be in the same platoon as Jin-seok, who has an ailment.

Compassion: Jin-seok (Won Bin) shows that he’s a human first
before a soldier.

Jin-tae then takes on every suicidal mission in order to obtain the Medal of Honour, which will permit his brother an early release from the military. However, in his lust to achieve his goal, he alienates Jin-seok, who becomes jealous and confused with the stark changes in his brother. What will their fate be?

Screenplay by: Park Jeong-su (박정수) *Liz bows*

Watch it:

We bought a special 2-disc set. The movie is on DVD while the Making of documentary is on VCD. Well, I wouldn’t actually call it a documentary because it’s basically behind-the-scenes footage clumsily put together. There’s no narration or a systematic flow to the “documentary”, but among the things packed into the one-hour disc are:

  • Scouting of filming locations
  • The cast in costume and make-up
  • Filming of the battle scenes – it’s really tough
  • Brief interviews with the stars and filmmakers
  • TV spots – 30sec, 20sec & 15sec

Verdict on the Making of documentary: Amazing dedication, passion and hard work went into the film. I’m so happy I got K-popped I could cry. Hallyuwood rocks!

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