"A drama about the fate of brothers forced to fight in the Korean War."
South Korea does their version of a war film and it is basically one of the greatest war films ever made. This one and Letters From Iwo Jima will go down in the history books as being some of the best of their genre.
The only true flaw this film has is that you can't help but compare it to Saving Private Ryan. It's a damn shame because Tae Guk Gi runs circles around Ryan, I'm not saying that Ryan is a bad film. I don't hate it but I don't think it's the masterpiece a lot of people make it out to be. The main problem I have always had about Saving Private Ryan is it's constant feel that the film is trying to manipulate you. The overuse of sad music over a "sad" scene is too much for me in Saving Private Ryan. It's doesn't bother me too much but I feel that it fails to evoke the emotions it sets out to. I blame this on the films broad depth. Once again the only depth I have really felt about Saving Private Ryan is "war is bad" It's enough depth to make it a good war film but not enough to truly blow me away. Sure, we feel for the characters, because they are in way, but c'mon does anyone actually feel like crying at the end?
Tae Guk Gi however manages to avoid these flaws. There is a lot of overblown melodramatic scenes but it works in the film because we actually really care for the characters. There is also a very harsh intense reality running through the film that makes these scenes also work. There are tons of differences between this and Saving Private Ryan, but this is the main one. Sad music doesn't make sad scenes. Sad music over a sad reality makes sad scenes.
Tae Guk Gi is really just an amazing heartbreaking film. The direction is great, The performances are amazing. The war scenes are realistic and brutal, but the main thing I can not praise enough is the pacing of the film. When the film is done you feel like you really went on an epic journey with these two brothers. There is no way you can not feel like you have just experienced something when the credits roll.
I really can't praise this film enough. It's one of those films that you feel ashamed of not watching sooner once it's done. I loved every minute of it and I can't wait to show it to everyone who thinks that Saving Private Ryan is the greatest modern day war film.
An amazing film for sure.