Starring: Ko Soo as Kim Soo-Hyuk, Shin Ha-Kyun as Kang Eun-Pyo, Kim Ok-Vin as Cha Tae-Kyung, Ryoo Seung-Ryong as Hyun Jung-Yoon, Lee Je-Hoon as Shin Il-Young, Ko Chang-Seok as Yang Hyo-Sam, Ryu Seung-Soo as Oh Ki-Young, and David Lee as Nam Sung-Sik
Rating: PG, subject matter and some violence
Running Time: 133 min
Twinkies: 5 stars easily
Synopsis: Towards the end of the Korean War an uneasy ceasefire is ordered, but out on the Eastern front line of the Aerok Hills fierce fighting continues. A race to capture a strategic point to determine a new border between the two Koreas is the ultimate prize.
A bullet is then found in the body of dead company commander of the South Korean army. The bullet that killed the company commander belongs to the South Korean army. Lieutenant of the Defense Security Command Kang Eun-Pyo (Shin Ha-Kyun) is ordered to go out into the Eastern front line and investigate the murder. When Kang Eun-Pyo arrives in the Aerok Hills he is surprised to find his old friend Kim Soo-Hyuk (Ko Soo) commanding troops in the Aerok Hills. Kang Eun-Pyo believed Kim Soo-Hyuk was dead.
In their younger years, Kim Soo-Hyuk was a meek student, but he eventually became the leader of Aerok company as a lieutenant. The situation in the Aerok company raises many flags in the eyes of Kang Eun-Pyo. Soldiers wear North Korean uniforms inside due to the cold weather, a 20-year-old leads troops as a captain and the reappearance of his old friend Kim Soo-Hyuk. The countdown to the ceasefire begins as the lives of countless soldiers fall to the wayside
Musings: Rated one of the best films for 2011. This title has well earned this distinction just by all of the awards that it won from the 2011 Daejong to Blue Dragon Film Awards. It also won several Film Festival awards from Vancouver to Australia; a total of 6. This movie is really important to watch as it explains the biggest reason that the Korean War continued during the ceasefire; to determine the line of demarcation or what is now called the 38th Parallel. In the movie, you see that the argument over who controlled one hill, Aerok is fierce; so are the battles that ensue. The possession of that hill goes back and front and you definitely see war in its full brutality. As you can expect, there are many scenes of fighting but you also see what happens as a war ends. The line, “War is HELL” will resonant in your head. Make no mistake, this is about the Korean War. Even though it is at its end, the end does come.
I also found it very interesting that the men were helping North Korean soldiers keep in touch with their family in the South. I also thought it was interesting that soldiers from the South, when captured were enlisted in the Northern military; very interesting indeed.
There is no question that all the actors were outstanding but I have to admit that it was Lee Je-Hoon who stood out for me. As the Acting Commander for the Camp Cayman soldiers, he displayed great sense of direction and projected a man in a leadership role. But what is very interesting is how he ended up where he is..watch and learn.
Contrast that with Shin Ha-Kyun as Kang Eun-Pyo, a CIC officer (kind of like Counter Intelligence), was a man on a mission to discover who had killed the Commanding Officer. His latest post at Camp Cayman was a punishment for being outspoken. As usual, you can expect a good performance from him.
Ryu Seung-Soo as Oh Ki-Young lent some comedic moments to this film which generally wouldn’t be. You can also expect quite a bit of colorful language from him too. So be forewarned.
Ko Soo as Kim Soo-Hyuk was wonderful. At the beginning, you see the change that the war made in his character. From mild manner and weak to military war machine. Imagine his surprise when he meets one of the snipers; someone he saw in one of the pictures being sent to the South. It wasn’t as big a mistake as Kang Eun Pyo made and you will see why. I understand he wanted the war to be over; however, to endanger all the men in the unit, I didn’t appreciate it. But Kim Soo-Hyuk’s devil in him was that he was in the mist of the war for too long. His humanity definitely was leaving him the longer he was out there in the field. People die and minutes later, the war is over. Even I cried!
Overall, it was great acting from all. The movie shows all the effects of war that is not only physical but also mental. It is a stark depiction, I can imagine that there wasn’t a dry eye while watching especially by those who may still have family in the North. War is nasty and this movie doesn’t sugar coat it.
A fact I learned while watching this: Korean Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 but took effect 12 hours later!
Trailer is available on on YouTube Website only. The movie is available on various streaming websites.
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