Plot-Inspired by a true story, two kids one Korean Jun Shik and one Japanese Tatsuo meet as kids, and they start a rivalry about who can out run who. Jun Shik has a dream to be an Olympic runner, but so does Tatsuo. When Tatsuoâ€™s grandfather is killed by a bomb inside a box that was delivered from an unknown sender, Tatsuo develops a hate inside of him that makes him despise Jun Shik even more. But, this is 1938 and war is breaking out and Jun Shik and the Koreans are forced to be suicide mercenaries for Japan. Well, Tatsuo leads the brigade and Jun Shik is forced to fight in a war him and his people wanted no part of. Well, when Russia takes over and captures the Japanese, now the Koreans and Japanese are in the same peril and can our two once bitter enemies now become friends and fight together to get out of Russia and back home to run in the Olympics?
Review-This is the 3rd film in the last 4 months I have seen from Well Go USA and wondering why this got no Oscar love last year as I did the other two films? This film starts off like Chariots of Fire, with some really great and brilliantly shot running scenes of the two boys who are out to be better than the other. The script was amazing, and the visuals trying to capture the 1930â€™s were phenomenal. You just felt like you were in that race each time with those boys. The film takes a violent turn as you know it would, around the half hour mark when Jun Shik is forced to fight in a war because he and his Korean friends were arrested for a riot they started when Jun Shik beat Tetsuo in a race, and the judges disqualified him for some crap. The war scenes were both very graphic and very well shot, where we are so used to the American view of how the war was it was refreshing to see how it was for Japan and the defending of the emperor to try and stop the Russians.
This film is centered on the two boys as they grow to men, and what they go thru. The film shifts gears about how they feel about each other around the hour mark when Japan is forced to surrender to Russia, and now the two men are starting to develop a bond that you just get the sense even though that Tatsuo keeps fighting Jun that they will eventually find a common ground and co-exist and they do. This film had some of the best war scenes I have seen captured on film since Saving Private Ryan. This period piece had amazing characters, a story that made you want to follow and it gave you more than enough action, drama and moments you want to cry. This film is nothing short of a masterpiece. It showed you how uncertain war is when people kept changing sides and certain Koreans turned against their own to join the Russians and even kill some of their own guys. The film also served as a window into the heart of man, when Tatsuo sees later in the film the evils of his own ways when they are used against him, and he regrets it. The last half hour involves the guys in Normandy trying to find a way home, and then it develops a heart and really makes you feel the pain they went thru.
This film is powerful, emotional and so brilliantly done. From the look and feel, to the set designs to all the characters, this film is just remarkable and to think it got no Oscar love is beyond me. For historians who love war and an accurate retelling of history, this film is a must see. For people like me, who love to escape into film and just be taken away into plot, characters and a story that will make me want to invest my time in it, this film is perfect. I loved it, and think it is a must watch. Very bloody, graphic, touching and violent but very well done.
9 out of 10