Friday, December 30, 2005

War and Formulas

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (written & directed by Je-gyu Kang): Rating 6.5/10

Running at 140 minutes, this one is an epic. Unfortunately, the length also ruins what could have been a really good movie. The movie starts off in the present when the remains of soldiers killed in the Korean War are uncovered. A case of mistaken identity leads into the flashback story of two brothers who fought in the Korean War. When the war broke out, the brothers tried to leave the village with their family. As the two brothers are temporarily separated in the confusion, the younger brother, Jin-Seok, is forcefully drafted. And when the elder brother, Jin-Tae, tries to get him back, he finds himself drafted against his wishes as well. Even though there was a rule that only one male per family would be drafted, both brothers find themselves in the trenches. Jin-Tae wants to protect his innocent younger brother (Jin-Seok) and tries to make a deal with his superiors – if he volunteers for the most dangerous missions, he wants the superiors to send Jin-Seok home. But as it turns out, Jin-Tae is a real strong character and becomes a decorated hero. Jin-Seok can’t recognize his brother anymore; he sees a peace loving person transformed into a greedy bloody thirsty man. Jin-Seok is unsure of Jin-Tae’s motives on taking on the risky missions – is it personal glory or brotherly concern? And just when it seems the war will be over, the brothers find themselves in another complicated mess where they have to make some difficult choices again. This last drawn out hour really takes the movie off its rails. If the entire question of switching loyalties with North /South was not introduced, the movie might have been much more compelling.

Formula 17 (directed by Yin-jung Chen): Rating 6/10

Boy 1 sees hot Boy 2. Boy 1 is told by his friends that Boy 2 is out of his league. But amazingly, stud Boy 2 develops a liking for innocent Boy 1. So Boy 1 and Boy 2 hook up. But Boy 2 has commitment issues and breaks if off. Boy 1 is heart broken. And after a lot of sugar and syrup ooze through this colorfully shot movie, Boy 1 and Boy 2 end up together after Boy 1’s friends do some work. The movie is cute and funny in parts but it is essentially a predictable lovey-dovey movie with only boys (as opposed to the usual boy-girl flicks).

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