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Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Cast: Jang Dong-keon, Jang Dong-keon, Weon Bin, more...
Director: Kang Je Gyu, Kang Je Gyu
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Studio: Columbia TriStar
Genre: Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Korea, War
Languages: English, Korean
Subtitles: English, French
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Korea's leading filmmaker, Kang Je-gyu, directed this epic-scale drama focusing on two brothers caught up in the madness of the war that tore their nation apart in the early '50s. Jin-seok Lee (Weon Bin) is a bright and well-educated young man whose older and more physically imposing brother Jin-tae Lee (Jang Dong-gun) believes he represents the best hope for his family's future. When both Jin-seok and Jin-tae are called up to fight in the South Korean army following the advance of Communist forces, a wary Jin-tae cuts a deal with his commanding officer -- if he racks up an impressive enough record on the battlefield, the army will give Jin-seok an early release. Jin-tae proves to be a fearless soldier, and is soon recognized as a war hero, but as the conflict wears on, he develops an unhealthy enthusiasm for the violence of the battlefield, and Jin-seok finds himself questioning his big brother's actions, both as a soldier and as a member of his family. The title Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War refers to the Korean name for the South Korean flag, originally designed in 1876 but outlawed during Japanese rule of the nation, and restored to use in 1948. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)
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7.37 (65 votes)
Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (Bonus Disc) (2004)
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7.33 (12 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

The brother theme by JKelly July 15, 2006 - 1:57 AM PDT
Another comparison to Saving Private Ryan is that the older brother's putative motivation (his eventual bloodthirst and then outright insanity aside) is to send his brother home. So he goes on an odyssey through various types of battle zones--open fields, ruined cities--like the Rangers in SPR. It's the motivation behind the title of SPR to do the same thing, to send a young man home to carry on the family name. I also wanted to note that I was impressed by the amount of even handedness, given that this is obviously a movie from the South Korean perspective. We are not always so willing to point the camera at ourselves in our "historical" films. The film shows the brutality that the south inflicts on its own citizens. The same kind of thing that can happen in any postwar, post conflict, post occupation. People start to wonder how you got by as a civilian under the occupation. Did you collaborate, were you literally sleeping with the enemy, etc. The southern anti-communists savage their own people for "signing up" as communists during the occupation, which they had to do to get food. Keep the remote handy for the FF button during some of the extended, I should say gratuitous, carnage, as well as the older brother's unlikely craze at the end. But it's an okay film.

Exploration of different ways to die in wartime by brakhage September 3, 2005 - 8:29 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
I second Popnfresh; this is one of the least subtle war films ever made, but the combat scenes are fantastic, and it's nice to get a (South) Korean view of the Korean War. Joint Security Area is the better film overall, but the production values of this movie are amazing.

hammer time by Popnfresh August 6, 2005 - 7:12 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Read "epic-scale" in the first sentence. You get all of that - the good and the bad - of what you've come to expect from "epic-scale." Comparison to Spielberg's work in "Private Ryan" should include further comparison to the ham-fisted approach to the use of historical backdrop of a Michael Bay film.

The movie is perfect popcorn fare for a lazy summer got your action, you got your romance, and if you don't feel like figurin' out subtext cause it's too hot outside and yur brain's fried, don't worry. The plot makes its point like an ice pick to the brain. Guess what? War is pointless, and both sides act like animals. We'll demonstrate that by having one of the main characters create moral conflict. Should we brutalize the enemy as they brutalize us? Lets test that theory. Oh, and in case the audience can't make the link between reciprocal action, we'll have both sides explicitly reason that the other is subhuman. Throw in a coupla "south korean pigs" and "commie dogs" for good measure. Hey! To really demonstrate our point about the blurring of the lines, we'll use one of the good guys, and have him pop up as a bad guy. Are the bad guys really bad? Something to think about. Thank God the main character gives us our moral center, and opines on all the major themes at just the right time.

Other than the hackneyed plot, the movie is very good, and very professional. The cinematography is really, really impressive, and the combat sequences truly amaze (except for the lame CG American fighter jets).

Historically speaking...i don't know if it's accurate or not...but it is fascinating to see the vacillation between the two sides. The Korean War has gotten far less attention in hollywood and classroom history in this country then it probably deserves.

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