Operation Chromite Review

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Against terrible odds, the fate of Operation Chromite rests with a small team sent behind enemy lines into North Korea

by Sharuna Warner Dec 25, 2016 at 7:21 AM

  • Movies review

    Operation Chromite Review

    UN Supreme Commander, General MacArthur, relies on the efforts of a small team to infiltrate a North Korean HQ and provide vital intelligence for Operation Chromite.

    As U.S battleships approach the Incheon Harbour in North Korea, Genreal Douglas MacArthur (Liam Neeson) peers through his binoculars in preparation for what will be the greatest amphibious landing since D Day. In order to successfully pull off this operation General MacArthur has enlisted the help of eight special covert officers to go undercover as a North Korean inspection unit tasked with infiltrating a North Korean army HQ and gathering intelligence. Leading this small group is Jang Hak-soo (Jung-jae Lee) who, having left his communist beliefs behind him a long time ago, is willing to stop at nothing to help the UN and MacArthur finally end the war.
    The film is split between Jang Hak-soo and MacArthur but it is really the former that steals the limelight and keeps the plot moving forward. After successfully infiltrated the HQ headed up by North Korean Defence Commander Lim Gye-jin (Lee Bum-soo) Jang Hak-soo and his team are on a deadline to discover the positioning of deadly mines in the Incheon harbour. But as the Commander beings to grow suspicious of his this new inspector, his relentless questioning of Jang Hak-soo's ruthless dedication to communism starts to reveal cracks. This results in some very intense scenes where Jang Hak-soo is pushed to prove himself or else risk jeopardising the entire mission.

    Operation Chromite
    For the most part the film focuses on Jang and his team and how their focus on family is what’s driving them to ensure the mission is a success. It’s these moments that save the film and give it a human quality creating empathy for these brave characters. Unfortunately however, the scenes with General MacArthur are what let the film down in my opinion, lacking sincerity and coming across as stiff, wooden and almost cartoonish. Neeson does have that all American quality you would expect from such a character and with a pipe to hand does sort of physically resemble the man he’s playing, but it just doesn’t seem convincing.

    On the other hand Jung-jae is brilliant as Jang with a stone wall exterior hiding any emotion as he plays his undercover character excellently and it’s only when he’s with his team safe from prying eyes that you get an insight into his internal, true character, someone who ultimately wants to save his family. Lee Bum-soo’s performance as the Defence Commander is similarly brilliant, he’s ruthless, cold and calculating, making him the perfect opposite for Jang.

    Despite being a bit clunky, the film delivers its 'men on a mission' story reasonably well

    Operation Chromite begins with the title card ‘inspired by true events’ - how much of the film is based on truth I don’t know but there is a lot of text to explain and help set the film up. Directed by John H. Lee, a graduate of the New York Film University, with a screenplay by Man-Hee Lee it does feel very typical of a Hollywood action film. The editing is fast paced and choppy in places which I found did get a bit confusing. But for the most part the cinematography is very straightforward and conventionally shot. The use of CGI in some places did look a bit ropey which affected the flow of the film. The music was the most perturbing aspect for me, it didn’t seem appropriate for this type of film and left some scenes feeling like something from a Bourne or Mission: Impossible film. For a film that’s under two hours in duration it did feel a lot longer and was definitely slow in places but this was compensated by the sheer amount of incident packed into this film.

    Operation Chromite is a decent enough film and one that delivers a vivid behind the scenes account of a seemingly impossible mission. It’s got plenty of action and enough human emotion to give it some depth, aided by the fact it’s inspired by true events. Although it’s a bit slow in places it does well in giving insight into the determination and resilience faced by those who were part of the Korean War.

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