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 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-Hyeok commanding troops in the Aerok Hills. Kang Eun-Pyo believed Kim Soo-Hyeok was dead. In their younger years, Kim Soo-Hyeok 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-Hyeok. The countdown to the ceasefire begins as the lives of countless soldiers fall to the wayside. –IMDb
Haunting tale of war on a hillside. The two Koreas battle to take, and retake, a lonely hilltop. There's a look and feel to this film that really caught my eye, and I've thought about it all year. Characters seemed to be intentional caricatures, but with an honesty that I found fresh. Definitely a memorable film to see.
This Korean war film features some visceral battle sequences and compelling performances. It's the last half hour that collapses from over-the-top audience manipulation. You know: strings in the background while characters weep at the heavens. No doubt meant to drive home the futility of war - but the film was already effectively getting that message across without having to resort to such didactic means.
Apparently korean cinema either goes all the way out in creativity and originality or prefers to stay on the ground of soap-opera like convoluted melodrama and this one inclines to the latter, none the less it has moments of raw emotional power and memorable performances and I found for the most part very touching how they present the futility of war.
Three years of brutal combat as North and South Korean troops trade possession of a single hill. A bit reliant on soldier stereotypes but the actors credibly fill out even the most stereotypical roles. The sense of adjustment to the ongoing horror and the odd type of camaraderie that develops between the opposing sides sets us up for the especially taxing exercise in wasted humanity that concludes the film.
Also: Free Korean films in New York, first reviews of Geoff Dyer’s Zona and more.