Hoon Jang / South Korea / 2011 / 133 min / Korean with English subtitles / Color
During the final, harrowing months of the Korean War (1950-1953), soldiers from the North and South wage a back-and-forth, bloody battle for Aerok Hill, a small but strategic area on the eastern front. When reports surface of suspicious incidents occurring in the South Korean unit (nicknamed “alligator” company), Lieutenant Kang (Shin Ha-kyun) is sent to investigate. At Aerok, he discovers, nothing is as it first appears, and the “morals of warfare” seem to have no bearing; an old friend, the once-timid soldier Kim Su-hyeok (Ko Soo), has now become a ruthless killer, while the young captain of the company (Lee Je-hoon) is a morphine addict. As his investigation continues, the battle rages on, with the lines between enemies and friends becoming blurred, and death sparing no one.
Winner of Best Picture at the Korean Grand Bell Awards and Korea’s entry to the 2012 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, The Front Line is neither a flag-waving nor over-sentimentalized epic, but a more subdued, haunting narrative of how soldiers on one ravaged hill face the realities of a hellish and dehumanizing war. Its sense of anarchy and impending social collapse borrows from such works as Apocalypse Now, yet its use of melodrama is entirely Korean. Standout performances and a suspenseful plotline combine to make this third feature of filmmaker Jang Hoon (Rough Cut; Secret Reunion) a powerful commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
Co-presenter: Asia Society Northern California (3/11, 3/18)
- Director: Hoon Jang
- Executive Producer: Jeong-Hoon You
- Producer: Woo-Jung Lee, Hyun-Cheol Kim
- Cinematographer: Woo-Hyung Kim
- Writer: Sang-Yeon Park
- Editor: Sang-Beom Kim, Jae-Beom Kim
- Cast: Ha-Kyun Shin, Soo Ko, Je-Hoon Lee, Ok-Vin Kim