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Taegugki: The Brotherhood of War R3 DVD review

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Sigismund, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. Sigismund

    Sigismund
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Taegukgi/TaegukgiBrotherhoodOfWarR3.jpg' ALT='TAEGUGKI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>TAEGUGKI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR</FONT><br>Reviewed January 2005 by <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?dvdid=Matt Brown' target='_blank'>Matt Brown</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 8</B></P><P>Until recently I’d never heard of this movie, however it was good word-of-mouth that prompted me to request this DVD to review. Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo – or as it’s known internationally “Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War”, is a stirring movie of family bonds, set against the horrors of the Korean war.</p><P>Telling the story of two brothers – Jin-tae (Dong-Kun Jang) and Jin-seok (Bin Won), the story opens with the two of them as the young, carefree men that they are. Jin-tae is the more placid of the two, academic and studious by nature, while Jin-seok is a “shoeshiner”, aspiring only to become a shoe-maker and to marry his fiancé, Young-shin (Eun-ju Lee). All is good in the world, until the Korean war breaks out, and as the military muster conscripts, Jin-tae is herded onto a train and faces being split from his brother. Jin-seok is having none of it, though, and muscles onto the train to rescue his brother, only to be beaten by the soldiers on-board and then forced also into conscription.</p><P>So begins Taegukgi, and thereupon the viewer is thrown headlong into the maelstrom of bloody war, alongside the two brothers as they fight for survival against the northern Communists. It’s here that the differences in character of both brothers comes to the fore; Jin-tae, the passive younger brother, struggling to cope with the shells and the bullets, with Jin-seok by contrast, almost seeming to revel in the experience, taking on the most dangerous missions and making the bravest of rushes into the jaws of the enemy.</p><P>Relationships strain under this pressure, and though it becomes clear that Jin-seok is simply trying to win a medal and negotiate with his officers for his brother to be taken off the frontline, other, more dangerous fallout of the experience of war threatens to tear them apart, as friends from the old life become enemies and the experience of war changes all it touches…</p><P>There is much more to say on Taegukgi, but I will go no further for fear of spoilers. Suffice to say though, if you are a war movie fan then this piece of Korean cinema should not be missed. Comparisons with Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan are inevitable, but the stories are very different. If anything, Taegukgi offers a much more layered affair; the story is more three dimensional (even if it does stretch the envelope of plausibility a little too much in places), and the relationships and character building are much more solid. The action, too, is in a similar vein, with many shots in the staccato style that Spielberg perfected, though I would suggest that in this respect Private Ryan is a little more accomplished.</p><P>Viewers should be warned though, Taegukgi is not for the faint hearted. Featuring some of the most brutal combat scenes I’ve experienced – in fact this surpasses anything I’ve seen for the utter brutality of hand to hand combat – this movie will have you squirming. Intestines bubble from gaping wounds, pieces of skull and other body parts rain down, maggots squirm over the injured, and there’s frequent gouts of scarlet splashing about the place. It’s unflinching, it’s graphic – perhaps too much for some – and if this doesn’t turn your stomach, then surely the cries of battle will, which permeate the soundtrack with gruelling regularity.</p><P>
    Make no mistake, Taegukgi is a challenge to watch. It’s tough going, but each viewer has to decide for themselves if the end result is worth it. Me? I was crying like a baby by the time the end credits roll, but even then I wasn’t sure if I liked the movie or not. It’s accomplished, and you’d have to have a heart of stone for the ending to fail to bring tears to your eyes.</p><P>In summary, if you have a strong stomach, a penchant for war movies and you don’t mind crying at a movie, then seek this out – otherwise, best stick to Disney eh?</p>
    <P><B>Picture : 9</B></P><P>The image presented here in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is an anamorphic transfer. Surprisingly, given that the movie runs for 140 minutes, it’s been split across 2 discs, with the final 40 minutes or so being on the second disc. Frustrating for those who hate the idea of their movie being interrupted, but equally this does ensure that the image presented is second to none (though I must confess this also smacks of an excuse to sell this as an unnecessary 3-disc, “more expensive” edition).</p><P>There is a great level of detail on offer here, from the dirty, pocked faces of soldiers, to the blood soaked battlefields, to the ashen skies and ruined cityscapes of Korea. Colour balance is good, with natural looking palettes which swings from the lush greenery of of the Korean countryside, to the brown, blood spattered murky tones of a ravaged ground.</p><P>Black levels are consistently good, coming across with depth but without killing the detail, and edge enhancement is pleasingly absent. There’s also little in the way of compression artefacts that I could detect – a couple of scenes containing smoke betray a few gremlins (which DVD is notorious for), but this is a largely excellent video transfer.</p><P>The subtitles themselves are obviously DVD-player generated, and aside from the occasional spelling or grammatical error in the translation, are as unobtrusive and easy to follow as subtitles can be.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Taegukgi/TaegukgiBrotherhoodOfWar_1.jpg' ALT='TAEGUGKI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR'></P><P><B>Sound : 8</B></P><P>Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps), I was expecting Taegukgi to offer up a sound-mix as visceral as the movie itself is, and surprisingly it’s actually a mixed bag to be honest, though it always hovers in the “above average” category.</p><P>Steering and imaging are excellent, with a really solid front soundstage, backed up by good use of the surrounds during the combat sequences. Bullets tear around the room, shells explode over your shoulder with a shower of earth or flesh, screams will harry your ears and goes a long way to reinforce the terrible act of war as it unfolds onscreen.</p><P>Dialogue is reasonably intelligible, though no doubt a grasp of the language would help! – it can become a little muffled during the action (or maybe it’s just that much of what’s said sounds the same, even though different subtitles accompany the words), but it generally holds up well despite the maelstrom that’s often assaulting you.</p><P>Where I was surprised was the amount of bass present. Or rather, the lack of it. On a calibrated system, the bass seems decidedly light in places. There are several moments when the LFE channel pounds out some low bass waves, but compared to something like Saving Private Ryan in DTS, this mix sounds on the light side. Bass can really add menace to any scene, and though being overcooked is often as bad as being underdone, I couldn’t help but wish that the bass was a little more thunderous. Still, that’s coming from someone who’s a bass freak, so perhaps I’m being a little picky. A competent mix regardless.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Taegukgi/TaegukgiBrotherhoodOfWar_2.jpg' ALT='TAEGUGKI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR'></P><P><B>Extras : 3</B></P><P>Extras here are rather difficult to navigate as everything’s in Korean language, with no useful English present and no subtitles. From the audio commentary on the main movie discs to the extras on disc 3, everything is in Korean and only the most patient will bother to spend any time here. That said, however, there are a couple of interesting extras; storyboards are easy to follow as the images tell the story themselves, with a couple of key scenes played out in storyboard form accompanied by sound from the actual film.</p><P>Of more interest, however, is a timeline/location tour, whereby if you move the cursor to a particular part of Korea on an interactive map, the DVD will play snippets/stills of the part of the movie where the events took place; for those who are interested in the history (or if you were a little confused by the timeline and events within the film), this is quite an interesting watch. But finding it amongst the menus is an effort in itself…</p><P>As I say, awarding a score for extras is difficult and as far as English viewers are concerned, this scores poorly; but don’t let that put you off, this should be seen for the film alone.</p><P>Special mention must also go to the packaging of this Special Edition; the gatefold style pack is contained in a rugged metal and canvas tin, with a monochrome image of each of the brothers printed on the back and front, along with the film title in silver. Contained inside in addition to the DVDs themselves is a full colour booklet of stills from the movie, and also a set of postcards. Unnecessary? Undoubtedly. Nice to have? Collectors will love it.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Taegukgi/TaegukgiBrotherhoodOfWar_3.jpg' ALT='TAEGUGKI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR'></P><P><B>Verdict : 7</B></P><P>This is a punishing movie of war, but with an emotional story of brotherhood, loss and unquestioning love at its core. Unrelenting, brutal and with some graphic violence, this DVD package should be considered essential for any war movie fans.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review disc provided by <A HREF="http://www.discemporium.com"><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/DiscEmporium.jpg" ALIGN="ABSMIDDLE"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>TAEGUKGI HWINALRIMYEO (2004)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=WAR' target='_blank'>WAR</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ACTION' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=DRAMA' target='_blank'>DRAMA</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=JE-GYU KANG' target='_blank'>JE-GYU KANG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=DONG-KUN JANG' target='_blank'>DONG-KUN JANG</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=BIN WON' target='_blank'>BIN WON</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=EUN-JU LEE' target='_blank'>EUN-JU LEE</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=HYEONG-JIN KONG' target='_blank'>HYEONG-JIN KONG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(KOREA)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Kd Media. Released Monday 10th May 2004</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>26.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>3</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>140 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>26</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Korean Dolby Digital 5.1</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Korean</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Box Set</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD><b>Disc 1</b> The Movie - Part One<BR>Audio commentary by director/writer Je-gyu Kang, and actors Dong-Kun Jang and Bin Won<BR><b>Disc 2</b> The Movie - Part Two<BR>Audio commentary by director/writer Je-gyu Kang, and actors Dong-Kun Jang and Bin Won<BR>After commentary interviews with director/writer Je-gyu Kang and actor Dong-Kun Jang<BR><b>Disc 3 - Page One</b> Historical featurette (with interviews by the veterans and cast and crew<BR>Korean war - Interactive map with info, and scenes from the film<BR>Interviews with cast & crew<BR>Storyboard & final scene comparison<BR>Making of trailer<BR>Making of featurette<BR><b>Page Two</b> Korean war - 13 featurettes plus an Interactive map<BR>Interviews<BR><b>Page Three</b> Theatrical trailer<BR>Teaser<BR>Poster gallery<BR>10 postcards<BR>40-page book</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     
  2. Adrenochrome

    Adrenochrome
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    Well Matt I Bought this movie on the strength of your review and can only say I am glad you requested it.

    The movie was fantastic viewing i didn't feel it was hard going but gripping from start to finish,although i also thought it was a little bass light.

    If it wasn't for these reviews i would have never even heard of this movie let alone seen it and to not see it would be missing out on what will undoubtedly be my movie of the year.

    Thanks

    Adrenochrome.
     
  3. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Cheers for your comments:) Not sure I'd watch it again though!
     
  4. CrossyX

    CrossyX
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    Got to agree. I had this a little while back as a friend had watched it at a festival and said it was good. This is in my top 10 film of all time and anyone who hasnt seen it needs to get it or at least view it.
     
  5. Roughneck1

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    Would have to say possibly the best movie i have seen so far this year.... but get the HK version amazing DTS sound.
     
  6. archfiendkain

    archfiendkain
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    Have just ordered the directors cut of this which runs at 205 minutes and am really looking forward to it.

    Also ordered Sympathy for Lady Vengence to complete the vengence trilogy
     
  7. figoagogo

    figoagogo
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    I have had this movie for several months now - I must say it is excellent the quality and presentation is A1, certainly challenges and in some places surpasses Saving Private Ryan.

    I found it gripping to watch but difficult viewing at the same time, there are some bits that I find too far fetched.

    If you like this I recommend you try J.S.A. (Joint Security Area).
     
  8. philoz

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    I've just finnished watching this film, all I can say is I'm stunned.
    If this was a film made in hollywood it would have swept the boards at the oscars.
    Simply a masterpiece, I cant praise it any higher.
    It makes you happy, sad, anxious and sick time and time again.
    If you have not seen this film then please beg borrow or steal it you wont be disappointed.
     
  9. figoagogo

    figoagogo
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    Have you seen J.S.A. (Joint Security Area). Although not a war film as such it is brilliant, and in the same class at Brotherhood!!!
     
  10. philoz

    philoz
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    Thanks for the heads up.
    I'll check it out:smashin:
     
  11. Deeez Nuuutz

    Deeez Nuuutz
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    Totally agree!

    I watched this a couple of weeks ago following a recommendation from someone in this thread ;)

    Thoroughly impressed and i particularly liked the grittiness of the film - so much better to watch a film without the hollywood gloss.

    :thumbsup: from me !!
     
  12. loyk

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    This is a quite nice film.
    It shows their own ironical history well while keep grapping good action and war scene.

    The heroin on last photo, had killed herself last year.

    J.S.A, mattrixdesign2 recommend, I also recommend strongly.
    It is not war film and can be sort of boring, but it is very sensitive and good film.
    I really moved.
     
  13. Zentron

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    I got the UK version last month and I was suitably impressed. Battle scenes on a larger scale than the Private Ryan one and almost all the way through.

    The CGi bit with the planes was the only thing I found quite wrong with the movie. Gut wrenching pleasantryness, excellent sound(might have been cleaned up a bit) and a story that really brought you along with it. I just enjoyed it so much I watched it again, unlike Private Ryan, which I just found myself skipping through just to get to any fighting, but after the first battle, seemed half baked.

    If the special edition comes out here in the UK, I will most certainly be buying it!
     
  14. ariecol

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    great movie highly recommended. unfortunately mine is not the dts version. i rented it :(

    the CG for the plane is a bit amusing.

    love the korean movies.
     

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