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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 10.81%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 2.7%
Total Crap: 4.05%

3 reviews, 56 user ratings

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Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
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by Elaine Perrone

"History repeats itself. When will we ever learn?"
5 stars

I can think of few anti-war statements more articulate, or images more powerful, than those conveyed by writer-director Kang Je-gyu in his epic Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War. Set in the years between 1950 and 1953, the film centers around two devoted brothers whose lives and loyalties are torn asunder by a civil conflict that remains unresolved to this day.

The elder brother, Lee Jin-tae (Jang Dong-kun), supports his family by shining shoes but dreams of perfecting his craft as a fine shoemaker. The younger, Lee Jin-seok (Won Bin), is a bright student who is looking forward to starting college. Times are tight, but still Jin-tae takes great joy in presenting Jin-seok with a beautiful writing pen that he knows his brother has admired. Left with only enough money for a single ice cream treat, Jin-tae buys it and proffers it to the younger boy. Arriving home at their mother's house, Jin-seok playfully dips into a pot of noodles with his hand and feeds a mouthful to his older brother.

When the North Koreans invade the South, all the young men between the ages of 18 and 30 are ordered to join the army to fight the communists, and a frightened Jin-seok is quickly conscripted and herded onto a train with a number of others. The horrified Jin-tae boards the train, intending to rescue his brother, but failing that, he vows to stay with Jin-seok, making it his personal mission to keep his beloved younger sibling safe from harm.

When the two are sent onto the battlefield, Jin-tae becomes a relentless fighting machine, determined to become a hero so that he can negotiate with his superiors to have his brother sent home. Although his intentions are good, Jin-seok, who doesn't understand Jin-tae's motivation, is horrified by his beloved brother's transformation into what he sees as a communist-hating monster. As time goes on, the viewer, too, is left to wonder whether Jin-tae's motivation remains entirely altruistic, or if he simply comes to enjoy the killing.

Likewise, just as Kang has painted Jin-tae as a complex man with conflicting characteristics of good and evil, he has avoided the stereotypical war-movie device of creating heroes, on the one side, and demons, on the other. The people who choose to fight for North Korea, and those who change sides, whether of their own accord or forced to do so, are portrayed as the same frightened and confused human beings as their South Korean counterparts, for the most part good people just trying to do what is right and make their way through circumstances over which they have no control.

When will those to whom we bestow control -- and therefore we -- ever learn?

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originally posted: 09/05/04 17:56:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/13/15 jokerass lol 1 stars
3/31/14 Rob, J,A,A greatest war movie since saving orivate ryan, made me cry at the end 5 stars
10/28/12 fartvenugen Horribly cliched with an atrocious score 2 stars
10/15/09 Alex "Amazing, the most brilliant Korean War movie." 5 stars
4/18/09 Samuel Kim (Kim-Hangul) I loved this movie; one of the best war epics i had ever seen. 5 stars
10/03/08 nilo s. manib jr. gravEeeeeEEEhhhhh.......sobrang ganda..,,,mapapaluha ka tlagah!!!! 5 stars
8/27/07 gene awesome movie, awesome acting and war scenes, it was awesome in every way, and it was sad 5 stars
8/24/07 Hairuddin The best war movie i've ever seen since spr and make me sad too..... 5 stars
7/01/07 Martyn Macmillan Exelent very dramatic and good acting recomended to anyone 5 stars
6/24/07 Neil O. Very good movie. Very realistic. Intelligent actors. Have to watch it again. 5 stars
5/12/07 Umenaki it was hard to understand... 1 stars
4/05/07 johhny depp best war film ive seen so far 5 stars
3/25/07 Quigley This is easily one of the greatest war films ever made: Everyone needs to see it 5 stars
11/10/06 Mark Radburn Better than Saving Private Ryan, it bought a tear to my eye 5 stars
10/11/06 mike Loved this movie. everyone who likes war movies should watch this one. 5 stars
10/10/06 Benji It was amazing. 5 stars
9/19/06 wnana know? it's very sad movie i know 5 stars
8/20/06 nur safina no other words except great and GREAT.the best film i've ever seen.i swear!! 5 stars
7/31/06 janessa best fucking movie i have ever seen, blew me away, you will not be disapponted 5 stars
6/21/06 ragpala great movie!!! very realsitic from the performances to the effects!!! 5 stars
2/13/06 nilo manib jr. very beautiful movie in the whole world 5 stars
12/16/05 Matto Oru I'm not a fan of war movies in general, but this one blew me away! 5 stars
9/13/05 katryn fantastic! much better than other war movies 5 stars
8/22/05 wc touching movie,one of the greatest asia movie 5 stars
8/16/05 Richie Cataulin It really is like a Korean SPR. Anyone can relate despite the cultural difference. 5 stars
7/22/05 R amazing, great movie. emotional and dramatic yet visually exciting 5 stars
7/08/05 kalv really good movie 5 stars
7/03/05 Todd Becker One of the best historical war pictures Ive ever seen. A must own film! 5 stars
6/18/05 aldo REALLY REALLY GOOOOOOOD!!! One of the best war films ever 5 stars
3/24/05 Toes better than band of brothers....but its still trying to be.... 2 stars
3/15/05 Caiphn Impressive, powerful and at times disgusting movie about the Korean War. 5 stars
3/11/05 JB The best anti-war movie ever! 5 stars
3/09/05 Los Daddy Powerful...More intense the SPR...The Korean War is note explored enough...Thank you TGG 5 stars
11/15/04 Susan Impressive 5 stars
10/27/04 Karen Lee AweSome! 5 stars
10/18/04 Jeny this movie is the BEST 5 stars
10/15/04 Jim Ew 1 stars
10/15/04 Ric A touching story of brotherly love, best war film since Saving Private Ryan 5 stars
10/01/04 Vicky AMAZING! unbelievable acting 5 stars
9/30/04 Young This is not a typical hollywoord war movie. Watch it! 5 stars
9/29/04 Cathline Bernard I really enjoyed the movie. It was produced very well. 4 stars
9/28/04 Austen Best movie I've seen in the longest time! 5 stars
9/26/04 Doug A significant film that should not be missed. 5 stars
9/25/04 Vivi Very Powerful! Best movie ever!!! Must see!! 5 stars
9/24/04 kriss harvey stunning, real and long overdue about this war 5 stars
9/21/04 Tatiana Poignant, reminds me of "Stalingrand", another great war movie 5 stars
9/19/04 Tom Hanks A lot better than Saving Private Ryan 5 stars
9/19/04 Inkook Park one of the best movies of the life time 5 stars
9/17/04 J Better than any other hollywood war movies 5 stars
9/13/04 James Mcpeak It's the best foreign movie ever~! 5 stars
9/08/04 Eugene Excellent!!!!! 5 stars
9/05/04 jennifer AWESOME MOVIE BUT ALSO DEPRESSING 5 stars
9/05/04 Torasan "Deeply moving, but a bit melodramatic. Power war scenes" 4 stars
9/04/04 LEE, H.B Wonderful, Very Great 5 stars
9/04/04 hangel This is a must-see movie..Do not miss it if you can.. 5 stars
8/31/04 Jason Lee good plot, very realistic war scenes and very touching, highly recommended! 5 stars
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  03-Sep-2004 (R)
  DVD: 15-Feb-2005



Directed by
  Kang Je-gyu

Written by
  Kang Je-gyu

  Jang Dong-Kun
  Won Bin
  Lee Eun-Ju
  Kong Hyeong-jin
  Lee Yeong-ran
  Jo Yun-hie

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