North commies and Southern allied forces stumble upon an isolated mountain village- Dongmakgul, a place forgotten by modern time.
I can’t remember ever watching a movie (or any other thing or person) open with all its potential flaws ready for the picky in the opening minutes, and then go on to completely redeem itself. What there was to dislike is simply the crease on a very well-woven shirt. Crisp cinematography drives the film, matching the tight dialogue ( i later realised it was based on a play by Jang Jin) and the actors were very convincing embodying the people who must have walked their country’s recent bloody history. Joe Hisaishi’s score gently leads.
Right smack in the middle is a stupendous slow-mo of a boar attack which will sear your brain for filmic eternity while your abs ache.
I cried when the soldiers had to leave Dongmakgul, when i had to leave Dongmakgul. One would probably walk away depressed for a long while, if not for the absurd mix of comedy and symbolism.
Like the soldiers who exchanged their clothes for the villagers’, Dongmakgul dared a philosophical alleviation that other anti-war movies never reached or only preached at, perhaps fearing it would compromise their gravitas.
It gave hope to one’s mind and spirit, lest one simmers trapped in the bleeding heart.
After movies like Oldboy and directors like Kim Ki-duk, i’ve been thinking the South Koreans are immensely talented at tapping its throbbing heart. They dare to be raw if it must mean being coarse, whilst retaining the quality of respect for the intangible Asian cinema usually have. But that is another topic..
A directorial debut by Park Ji-Hyeon and the fourth-highest grossing South Korean movie of all time, South Korean’s entry for the 2005 Oscars: The painful heart beneath it all- I can only imagine and appreciate how special a film this must be to the Koreans.