Starring: Lee Jung-jae as Jang Hak-soo, Lee Beom-su as Lim Gye-jin,
Liam Neeson as General Douglas MacArthur, and Sean Dulake as Lt. Col. Edward L. Rowny
Rating: PG-13, subject matter and some violence
Running Time: 116 min
Twinkies: 4 3/4 Military stars
Synopsis: American General Douglas MacArthur (Liam Neeson) sends eight members of the Korean Liaison Office, led by a South Korean Navy Lieutenant (Lee Jung-Jae) on a secret mission far behind North Korean lines to carry out Operation “X-ray”. This covert operation must succeed so that MacArthur can launch the daring Incheon Landing Operation. The movie is a fictionalized version of the historical CIA/military intelligence operation code named “Trudy Jackson” described in the Operation Chromite article.
Musings: What a brilliant piece of history that was portrayed even if it was fictionalized. One thing that cannot be untrue is the fact that so few men infiltrated into the area that had been overrun by the North Koreans. It was these men a lone that went in and literally turned the tides of the Korean War and are responsible for South Korea being where it is today. The level of national pride and determination of these few men is what’s unprecedented to me.
In the beginning when we see the scene where MacArthur is talking about why he wanted to do this operation; not for personal glory; not for a future run for President but simply thinking back to when he first landed in Korea and encountered a young boy who was the only survivor in a trench along the shore. MacArthur asked the boy “Why are you still here when everyone else is dead?” and the boy’s response is simply “Because no one told me I could leave”. That one sentence resonated with me as I sat in the movie theater. I don’t know if I could ever have such patriotism and love for my country at the level of that young boy; yes, I cried.
I also liked the fact that this movie once again gave me insight into the Korean War that I’d never known. A lot of us may know that the war happened but the shocking realization that before the “Battle of Incheon” as this operation is also known as, North Korea had almost totally overrun the entire peninsula! To see the map of the country being almost totally in red shows you just how close we came to never knowing KPop! Korean Dramas! Or even the movies and other entertainment that we Non-Asian viewers love so much. It is a stark reality to see the picture and realize just how close it was!
So why Incheon? It was a military strategy to effectively cut off all supplies to North Korean troops that had already advanced way south of there. It was also a point where U.S Intelligence figured that the Chinese Army wouldn’t become involved. Funny, as we saw the rolling credits and the words came on the screen about how MacArthur tried to advance even further north to Pyongyang but was summarily stopped by the Chinese; I guess for once Intelligence gathered was correct.
But let’s take a moment to discuss the brilliant acting of first Lee Jung-jae and Lee Beom-su. Such two great powerhouses in one movie! I cannot begin to tell you just how well these two men acted together. Maybe I just love military movies way too much “Thanks Dad!”. I thought the acting of both was simply stellar! I would be surprise if one wins an award without the other. This is one time that two men MUST share the accolades because they well deserve it. Lee Jung-jae as Jang Hak-soo showed a man that not only loved his country but his mother that he had left behind in Incheon. As a once North Korean officer who had abandoned the north, Hak-soo felt that his actions were unfilial to his mother.
There were just so many wonder quotes from this character that I’d spend half this review writing them but being unfilial for your country is probably one of the best ways to be filial to your parents that a son can ever be. As the mother said at the end; even if he doesn’t come back, he will always be with me! Lee Beom-su as the North Korean Commander was amazing in his portrayal of the evil but loyal NK officer Lim Gye-jin. In performing his duties and this character, the level of brutality was very clear as you watched his character perform his duties. If the point was to scare you into thinking how much a wrong in the eyes of the NK military a soldier could be subjected to, this movie and Lim Gye-jin made you a believer. Awesome job!
As far as Liam Neeson,I read one reviewer describing his performance as wooden. My only comment is to that person “How many 5 star Generals have you met in your lifetime?” In mine, a couple and I must say they are all pretty wooden. As MacArthur, I was less concerned with his woodeness and more concerned on whether he accurately portrayed the legend. MacArthur was an ultra Military man who was known to balk against other generals that didn’t see his way. I really believe the success and the endeavor into Incheon never would have happened without the man’s insistence; such a great General he was and Liam did a good job in showing that.
As always, “War is HELL” and its depiction can be very brutal; however, any piece of history is well worth watching, studying and knowing. It is the knowing that we hope will prevent future conflict. I think from now on, the date September 15th will be remembered in my head forever and the men as well as women who sacrificed their lives to make it happen will also be remembered. Great job! Great movie!
Trailer is available on on YouTube Website only. Stay tune as the movie is still at theaters listed above.
I’m available on Twitter. Thanks to all of you Twinkles out here who are taking the time to read! If you have a suggestion for a future review, just leave me a comment! I’m always happy to have movie suggestions.