Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (태극기 휘날리며)
Synopsis: “Tae Guk Gi” is a fictional story of two brothers, Jin Tae and Jin Seok, who are unwillingly drafted into the South Korean army following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. The stronger of the two brothers, shoeshine boy Jin Tae, makes it his life’s mission to keep his weaker younger brother Jin Seok safe from any danger. The only way to do that was to win a medal of honor. Motivated by the promise of a superior officer that if he wins the medal, his brother will be sent home, Jin Tae fights fearlessly and becomes a great warrior.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Action, drama, war, tragedy
Director: Kang Je-gyu
Casting: Won Bin, Jang Dong Gun, Lee Eun Joo, Ahn Kil Kang, Jo Yoo Hee etc….
Wow what a movie! This was definitely not for the faint of heart! (yes wars are bloody: how comes I forgot such important point? *puke*). I don’t know if it was because I had not watched a war movie for a long time but Tae Guk Ki: Brotherhood of War literally shook me. That’s simple: he got me all teary after only 25 minutes of movie (with the scene of forced enlistment).
The movie depicts with accuracy the horrors of war: hunger, thirst, vermin, the constant fear of being attacked at the most unexpected moment, the comradeship, the desire of surviving no matter what (even if that implies betraying your own camp), the struggle of the soldier’s families etc…To sum up it’s a classic war movie. Yes but filmed with such realism that you tremble -as much as you would for your own skin- for the soldiers’ live. You put yourself in their shoes and wonder how YOU would behave. You become attached to the few character you are introduced to and pray for them to survive or at least to have a clean and quick death. In other word you live the war with them.
If Jin Seok (Won Bin) was an amazing character it was nothing compared to his brother in my opinion. Through Jin Tae (Jang Dong Gun) we witnessed the tough reality: war destroys men both physically AND mentally.
In a context of war where it’s more or less every man for himself, Jin Tae did all he could (such as accepting the most dangerous missions) to save his brother’s life. My heart literally jumped out of my chest everytime he charged into the enemy (especially when I knew from the start that at some point he would die -that’s not a spoiler don’t worry! you’re told so as soon as the movie starts). I didn’t approve all his actions (especially when that cost the life of his comrades) yet I couldn’t stop myself from admiring his guts…to some point. Eaten up by hatred and probably guilt (even if it wasn’t for his own skin, he knew his action were somewhat selfish and cost other’s live), Jin Tae did no longer perceive the right from the wrong. He became as much an animals as the commies (the North Korean) and showed no mercy contrary to Jin Seok, who was always horrified by such massacre and reluctant to kill the enemy- because after all they were also men like him.
Jin Seok actually appeared as the voice of reason “We’re not better than the commies killing civilians! If we kill them we are animals, too. We are the same. No better, no worse”. He had harsh words toward his brother. Sometime a bit too harsh in my opinion. I didn’t like to see him rub salt in Jin Tae’s wounds, when we could clearly see in this latter’s eyes how shitty he felt about being the cause of other’s death. I hated seeing him turn his back against Jin Tae, almost disowning him. Yet I also fully understood his position: who would bear to be the cause of his brother’s constant sacrifice? who would not get angry after this latter killed their mutual acquaintances because of a lack of distrust? Plus Jin Tae’s motive were sometimes hard to read. Of course he did all that to safely send back Jin seok to their family, but sometimes -just sometimes- he actually seemed to “enjoy” himself, be in his element. War destroyed Jin Tae and almost caused the end of their brotherhood. The last part of the movie was a total twist for all that matter. I was far from expecting such reversal in Jin Tae’s character even though it wasn’t in the least an irrational end. Beautiful!
Won Bin’s performance was perfect from A to Z and Jang Dong Gun moves me to tears. I had forgotten how talented he was (doesn’t surprise me to see that he won a price for this role! he fully deserved it)
Tae Guk Ki: Brotherhood of War was 140 minutes of intense spectacle (you’ve been warned). For those who love war movies you’ll definitely give a 10/10 to that work. For me it’ll only be an 8.5 because even though it totally hooked me, I can’t deny that I’m really not into war movies and always feel sick after watching such genre. Last piece of advise: grab your handkerchief my friends!
Note de Dushbadou: 8.5/10
Note finale: 8.5/10
(This trailer is in poor quality and poorly made. It doesn’t do justice to the movie. I’m putting it nonetheless cause we’ve always done that in our critic but my advise: skip it)