Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Battleship Island (군함도) - Movie Review

The Movie: The Battleship Island (군함도)

The Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

The Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Kim Su-an, Lee Jung-hyun, So Ji-seob, Song Joong-ki

The Story: During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people, who were forced onto Battleship Island ("Hashima Island") to mine for coal, attempt to escape.

The Review:
There have been countless stories told about World War II over the years although I don't believe I have ever seen one quite like this. Told from the perspective of how South Korean citizens were treated by the Japanese military during the war, this movie helps you to understand why there may still be a little bit of animosity and mistrust to this day. Basically, South Koreans were duped into slavery and sent to work manual labor for the Japanese war effort. Director Ryoo Seung-wan does a great job of showing the rebellious spirit of the people as they fight for freedom and for their lives.

The drama is heavy and the action is epic in scale but it's the performances from the ensemble cast that really sell this emotionally charged tale. Led by Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub, Song Joong-ki, Lee Jung-hyun, and Kim Su-an (Train to Busan), each performer in the cast gives it their all to show the struggles, triumphs, trials, tragedies, and heroism of this historic real life tale. There are so many levels of interaction between the characters and the director eaves everything together beautifully and seals it with an emotional ending that will leave you stunned and exhausted by the time the credits begin to roll.

The Verdict:
The Battleship Island is a big, action packed, and emotionally powerful movie that will have you on the edge of our seat from start to finish. Beautiful cinematography paired with some really powerful performances and what you get is one of the better films to come out of South Korea over the course of the year.

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