The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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Friday, October 11, 2019

The Battle of Jangsari

The Battle of Jangsari is based on a true story of a little known operation during the Korean War. Co-directed by Kwak Kyung-taek and Kim Tae-hoon and written by Lee Man-Hee and Jung Tae-Won it tells the story which was basically a suicide mission which took place over two days (September 14-15, 1950) at Jangsari in Yeongdeok, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. The battle was supposed to be a diversionary tactic to buy time for General Douglas MacArthur’s attack at Incheon in a couple of days.

Led by Captain Lee Myung-Joon (Kim Myung-Min) who did not have any battle experience but volunteered to lead his 772 student soldiers who only had a couple of weeks training. He chose his men, whose average age was 17, for their physique and strength of character. They travel during a typhoon with all the young soldiers puking into buckets on the ship traveling over a raging sea. They only have 4 rafts to get to shore so in order to get close enough to the beach, the ship is grounded. The teams have to secure ropes for the rest of the soldiers to lead them to the beach. They are besieged by bombs and bullets in their effort losing many of their battalion. The story centers on a few characters such as Choi Sung-Pil (Choi Minho of the K-pop band Shinee) who escaped with his family from North Korea, Ki Ha-Ryun (Kim Sung-Cheol) who has a tough attitude, Guk Man-Deuk (Jang Ji-Gun) a not so bright big guy who looks after Moon Jong-Nyeo (Lee Ho-Jung) who joined the army so her twin brother the only male in the family would not die in the war. We see the fear and heroism through their eyes as they experience the horror of war at their age.

Meanwhile American jounalist Marguerite Higgins (Meghan Fox) who represents the many female war correspondents on the front line, fights with Colonel Stephen (George Eads) to tell the world that these young men were being used as a sacrifice to distract the North Koreans into thinking the main attack force was hitting Jangsari and not Incheon on the other coast. The addition of the American characters doesn't seem all that necessary except to add some exposition.

The filmmakers bring the magnitude of the inexperienced young men thrust into a life and death situation is the main focus. The Battle of Jangsari was kept secrets for many decades. The filmmakers were able to convey the violence and the bonding of the survivors. They were teenagers fighting with the enemy of the same age. Yes, some of the situations were cliche and some of the scenes were awkward and obvious. But the story was interesting to see this war through the eyes of the Korean people.
(Review by reesa)

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