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Tae Guk Gi (The Brotherhood of War)

Kang Je-gyu

Tae Guk Gi (The Brotherhood of War)
Tae Guk Gi is a Hollywood war movie made by Koreans for Koreans about a seminal event that still divides this nation. The Korean War of 1950 to '53 pit the Communist North against the capitalist South, which is embodied in this movie by two brothers. The older, stronger Jin-tae (Asian superstar Jang Dong-gun) fights recklessly yet bravely to guarantee passage home for his younger, smarter brother Jin-soek (Won Bin). The family's survival lies in securing Jin-soek's higher education. However, Jin-tae's bloodthirsty rise through the army ranks hardens his heart and ultimately divides the brothers, symbolising the ideological schism between North and South Korea. Tae Guk Gi (the name of the South Korean flag) is an impressive production that rivals Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan with its bloody battle sequences but also lapses into sentimentality. Despite its flaws, Tae Guk Gi is a powerful film. The film's portrayal of the horrors of war is universal and has touched audiences around the world, a feat unrivalled by any other Korean film. The double-DVD release is as lavish as the film itself. Disc one offers a sharp transfer, while disc two overflows with five documentaries chronicling the making of Tae Guk Gi, from concept to delivery. Wisely this package includes an homage to the Korean War veterans who today recount their war stories that inspired this film. The featurettes are sometimes self-serving but are more often informative. Director Kang Je-gyu and his writers describe how they wrestled with how to tell the three-year war within a 148-minute film. The unlikely title (think "Stars and Stripes" for an American Civil War picture) divided the crew until the 2002 World Cup (hosted by South Korea) awakened the country's latent patriotism. The only thing missing is a director's commentary. Almost perfect. Plus: storyboard vs. film sequence and production stills. (Columbia/Sony)

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