Yes another Korean War film about, yes, the Korean War and why not because they do make them so well. This one is about the last battle or properly battles that took place in the dyeing embers of that sad conflict (that is still officially not ended). All hills were strategic and Aerok Hill is one such command and has been taken and lost at least thirty times by Alligator Company of the South Korean Army.
Then their captain winds up dead and it is found that he has been killed by a South Korean bullet, yet he was reported K.I.A (killed in action), so a keen young Lieutenant of the Defence Security Command Kang Eun-Pyo is sent to the Front Line to investigate. On his arrival he finds the place in disarray and the man who has been in leading the men is an old friend Kim Soo-Hyeok (also supposedly K.I.A.) There is also a replacement Commander who from his corpulent appearance, has not spent much of the war on `exercises' unless that was to the kebab shop.
Kang Eun-Pyo starts investigating and starts to uncover small things but is generally met with a wall of silence. At the same time the truce negotiations rumble on but hostilities are not allowed to end - rather like World War I. So the killing continues and boy do we get a lot of that. Not only in battle but in the caves and the activities of some very cruel snipers. Korean films have garnered a reputation for making excellent war films, `Brotherhood', '71, Into The Fire' and `Assembly' and this is another to add to that list of quality if emotional films.
The action is frequent and top notch, it can be fairly bloody too and sometime quite personal. There is as ever a plethora of characters, with the seventeen year old green recruit to the gnarled veteran from the War of Liberation of WW II. We also have characters that are less than black and white which is always welcoming and a past event from 1950 in the failed landings at Pohang that still haunts the company. The weapons and uniforms are pretty much spot on and the CGi is so good you accept it as authentic.
There are a lot of emotional rants, but that goes with the territory and there is a bucket of not so subtle politicising. That is about reunification, a thread that runs from the start and through out the film, which some may find a bit of a stretch, to say why would be a plot spoiler. That all said this runs for just over two hours and held my attention from the very start and yes I was rooting for almost everyone, even the less heroic of the bunch. Director Hun Jang has done a great job with a great cast. The DVD has a whole disc of extras which has so much on it that it is like an extra film with a `making of' and loads more. In Korean with English sub titles this is a must for all serious fans of world cinema especially the ones with ruddy good battles in.