Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)
Also titled: Brotherhood: Taegukgi
Directed by Je-kyu Kang
Written by Ji-hoon Han, Je-kyu Kang, Sang-don Kim
Starring: Dong-gun Jang, Bin Won, Eun-ju Lee
Jin-tae (Jang) and Jin-seok Lee (Won) have drafted by the South Korean government to fight during the Korean War. Leaving behind their family in the care of Jin-tae’s fiancee, Young-shin (Lee), the two brothers head to the front. Once on the front, Jin-tae and Jin-seok begin to witness the true brutality of war. As Jin-tae works to get his brother discharged and home safely, he begins to take risks. His risks and Jin-seok’s experiences gradually begin to affect each of them and their relationship. As the hardships continue, the brothers will see if their bonds are stronger than the war raging around them.
This movie was written by Ji-hoon Han (Running Wild), Sang-don Kim (The Tower) and Je-kyu Kang (My Way). Kang also went on to direct this one. He had a great cast of talented actors to work with including Dong-gun Jang (The Warrior’s Way), Bin Won (The Man from Nowhere), and Eun-ju Lee (Garden of Heaven).
This story is powerful and intense from beginning to end. The writing does a good job of not separating the emotional and physical damages of war. The bond between the two brothers is powerful and written in a way that reflects the changes in each of them throughout their experiences. I think this might be one of the better written war films in a long time. The material is rich and largely untouched by American filmmakers, making it wonderful to see from the perspective of Korean writers.
If any fault can be found with the story, it might be the level of intensity throughout most of the film. The movie focuses on the hardships, pain, and death throughout the movie, without taking a breath as often as expected. This worked for the story, but it might be a bit rough for some viewers.
The acting throughout this movie is great from the entire cast. The roles are all emotional and intense and the stars rose to the occasion. Specifically, Dong-gun Jang and Bin Won did incredible work with their parts. The chemistry is there from the beginning and their relationship feels genuine and powerful. The rest of the cast is also great, including wonderful work from Eun-ju Lee. Overall, the cast really seemed to bring the story to life.
I should also mention that this film has an incredible score. It’s haunting theme follows the story nicely, really accentuating the emotional beats of the story.
This movie is a great expression of the horrors of war and how they can affect the core of who people are. If you’re a fan of war films or foreign films this is one you should see. I would also suggest this to fans of emotional dramas since it really focuses on the personal side of war. This is an intense film and might not be for everyone since it’s a very graphic look at war. I give this one 4.7 out of 5 stars.