Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War

"Very Good"

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War Review


To call Tae Guk Gi the Saving Private Ryan of Korea (as many critics have) is both accurate and off the mark. Accurate because the battle scenes in this Korean War epic are as grisly as anything you've ever seen, and off the mark because the story is much more personal and family-centric than Spielberg's grand symphony of patriotism.

In the pre-war Seoul of 1950, older brother Jin Tae (Jang Dong Gun) is a happy-go-lucky shoeshine boy and amateur cobbler who works hard all day so that younger brother Jin Seok (Won Bin), a star student, can finish high school, go on to college, and become the savior who will lift his entire extended family into the middle class. Jin Tae's devotion to his younger brother is absolute.

But then comes the war, in the form of Army trucks rumbling down the streets and soldiers snatching all the young men they spot and herding them off the train station for a quick ride straight to the front. Jin Seok is grabbed, and Jin Tae races right onto the train to snatch him back, only to be snatched himself. Both brothers are off to war.

And what a war. Nothing you've seen before, not even Ryan, prepares you for the carnage that writer/director Kan Je-guy choreographs. Shot in the same frantic handheld style that Spielberg used so effectively, the battles, which come relentlessly, one after the other, are sheer chaos. Jin Tae soon realizes that the best way to protect his fragile brother will be to volunteer for the kinds of insane missions that will make him a hero and give him the clout to request a favor from the top brass: send my brother home. As it turns out, Jin Tae is an excellent soldier, dispatching Commies by the dozen and dodging the mines, grenades, flamethrowers, and napalm that turn many of his comrades into dust before our horrified eyes.

Because the battlefront moved up and down the Korean peninsula many times in the course of the war, civilians were always caught in the crossfire, and Tae Guk Gi is especially forceful in its depiction of civilian atrocities. Neither side is innocent. The Communists slaughter entire villages as they retreat (but not before stringing up women and children from the tallest tree), but back in Seoul, anti-Communist factions are rounding up suspected collaborators, including anyone who was ever lured to a Red rally in order to get some of the food they were handing out. They're typically executed within minutes.

One of those victims turns out to be Jin Tae's fiancé, and he just happens to be home on leave to witness her execution. The incident pushes him somewhere close to complete insanity, and upon his return to the front he switches sides to fight for the north, becoming a Braveheart-like steamroller on the battlefield, cracking skulls and disemboweling his foes like a maniac. Jin Seok is horrified; now it's brother against brother, and Jin Tae's original intentions to protect his brother seem to have been totally forgotten.

Tae Guk Gi is reported to be the most successful film in Korean history, and one wonders what young and prosperous South Koreans think when they see the horrors their grandparents had to live through before they were able to build a viable industrial country. Kan Je-guy tells this story on both a grand and a very personal scale. It's the story of a nation, but it's also the story of a family, and of the importance of loyalty to one's family. That message, and the images that go with it, will stay with you.

Aka Brotherhood, Taegukgi, Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo.

Brothers in arms.



Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War

Facts and Figures

Run time: 140 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th February 2004

Box Office USA: $0.9M

Distributed by: IDP

Production compaines: Showbox Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Kan Je-guy

Producer:

Starring: Jang Dong-gun as 이진태 (Jintae Lee), as 이진석 (Jinseok Lee), Lee Eun-ju as 영신 (Yeongsin), Gong Hyung-jin as 영만 (Yeongman)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.