Starring: Kyung‑gu Sol as Kang In‑chan, Ahn Sung‑ki as Commandant, Jung Jae‑young as Han Sang‑Pil, Heo Joon‑ho as Sergeant Jo, and Im Won‑hee as Won‑hui
Rating: PG-13, language and some violence
Running Time: 135 min
Twinkies: 3 1/2 stars
Synopsis: January 1968, 31 members of North Korean Special Unit 124 infiltrated South Korea with the ultimate mission of attacking the Blue House (Presidential Palace in Korea) and assassinating President PARK Chung-hee. When Kim Shin-jo, the only member who was captured alive, was asked “What was the purpose of infiltration?” on a live TV program, he shouted “I came to slit the throat of President PARK Chung-hee!” and made the whole country’s blood run cold.
At the same time, In-chan escapes the death penalty for being an accessory to a crime when he accepts an unexpected proposal from Jae-hyun, a general at Silmido H.I.D. Project and is transported to Silmido Special Unit. Silmido Special Unit is a unit composed of dysfunctional social outcasts and criminals under the death or life sentences. Sang-pil and Won-hee are also among the members of this unit. When they arrive at the island, Jae-hyun gives them the classified national duty, which is to explode the North Korean presidential palace and behead KIM Il-sung, the North Korean president. It is a retaliatory project.
Musings: I was happy to find this 2003 movie. It is not very often that you find them. As I was watching the movie, I came to the realization of where the basis or background story for Lee Min Ho’s City Hunter came from. As you can expect, their training was brutal. Kind of makes you wonder if this is still the practice but I doubt it. Another movie came to mind as I watched this. If some of you are old enough, I’m sure you’ve heard of the U.S. movie from 1970 called Kelly’s Heroes where again miscreants and condemned men are picked for a suicide mission and trained vigorously. Is this the case of the egg before the chicken? I swear I felt like I was initially watching the Korean version of the movie; however, as this is based on an actual true event, nothing could be further from the truth than reality and what happened.
I guess the sad commentary about this movie was the fact that neither did it have a happy ending nor was the mission successful. The movie did feature the camaraderie of the men as they were trained for their mission especially with men who initially were destined to die. Acting by all was great as would expect. From Sol Kyung Gu (when IS this man bad in a movie) to Jung Jae Young. Talk about a movie ladened with powerhouses! Even a super young Uhm Tae-Woong was there and I cannot forget the sensational Ahn Sung Ki as the Commandant!
As you can expect, Silmido won several film awards in several categories: 2004 Baeksang Arts Awards (Grand Prize for Film); 2004 Grand Bell Awards (various categories); 2004 Blue Dragon Film Awards (various categories to include Best Film). Once again, this is not a movie for everyone. But again, to love a country, you have to know its history. I highly recommend this.
Trailer is available on on YouTube Website only. The movie is available on various streaming websites.
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