14 January 2012

Brotherhood of War review

As I somehow managed to catch a cold earlier this week, during the only damn day I left the house (had to visit the library to borrow a book for an exam I was writing), all plans for playing miniature wargames this weekend had to be cancelled....

So as I was writing my exam the first half of the week, and have been knocked out with this goddamn cold since Wednesday I kinda burned through most of my already written material. Checking my "to do" list I saw that I still had not posted a review for the excellent South Korean war film "Brotherhood of War" which is among my top 5 favorite war movies.

Brotherhood of War is a movie about the Korean war, from the perspective of the Koreans. The movie is about two brothers, Jin-Seok and Jin-Tae, Jin-Tae being the older and taking care of the family and looking after his younger brother. When the war between north and south Korea breaks out Jin-Seok is grabbed by some south Korean military men and drafted into the army. As Jin-Seok is sickly and hardly any soldier material the older brother first tries to bail him out but then ends up in the army as well with the goal to protect his younger brother by asking to serve in the same unit.

The war is going badly for the South, lack of supplies, lack of food and decent weapons lowers morale. The older brother comes up with an idea by talking to one of the officers about earning a medal of honor and thus being able to free his brother from active duty. Jin-Tae puts his life on the line and presses his luck doing various dangerous tasks and fighting like a crazy person for the sake of his brother.

The movie nicely shows both sides of the conflict, even though the north Koreans are depicted as somewhat more savage and evil looking on the battlefield. The movie also shows not only battlefield brutality but how the civilian population on both sides suffered war crimes for political ideologies. It also shows the uncompromising side of a civil war where you can run into someone from your old neighborhood fighting for the other side and having to kill them. Perhaps this is what makes the movie much more engaging and thoughtful. Not least because the characters are likeable and have strong motivations. The effects and combat scenes are really great, you can trace bits of Saving Private Ryan in the way the movie is shot, battles being fought both in the countryside and in urban areas - the violence and fighting has a gritty edge to it and conveys a feeling of  realism and connection to what's going on. This is not a warmovie with heroes and happy endings that leaves you pumped up or with the urge to instantly jump straight to your computer and fire up some online shooter. It's a bit more thought provoking than that.

Highly recommended!


  1. I had forgotten about this movie. I watched a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks for writing these reviews.


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