After considering a number of buzz projects released in the past year, South Korea has decided on the blockbuster war thriller The Front Line by director Jang Hoon (Secret Reunion, Rough Cut) to be its pick for foreign language film at the 84th Academy Awards.
It beat out other films like Poongsan (aka Phungsan Dog) starring Yoon Kye-sang, the adorable-sounding ’80s girl-power-and-friendship movie Sunny, the Ha Jung-woo crime thriller The Yellow Sea, director Hwang Sang-soo’s The Day He Arrives, and director Im Kwon-taek’s Hanji (Scooping Up the Moonlight).
I haven’t seen The Front Line yet, but I’ve been intrigued ever since hearing about it, with its suspenseful plot about a South Korean unit during the Korean War that may possibly be fraternizing with the enemy, led by an enigmatic Go Soo. He comes into conflict with his old friend Shin Ha-kyun, a soldier sent from the capitol to investigate the suspicious death of an officer. While I’ve read some mixed reviews about the film, it seems to be a taut thriller that is entertaining but not quite as successful as another famous North-vs-South military-investigation film, JSA: Joint Security Area.
According to the Korean Film Council, Poongsan was lauded for its unusual story and intensity, but its storyline was deemed to be enough on the outside of realistic that there was concern not all viewers would appreciate it. The Front Line racked up a high score from its judges with its topic of the Korean War and the high quality of the ending. The Yellow Sea had an overall high score — it was neck in neck with The Front Line till the end — but its level of violence kept it from winning out.
This isn’t perhaps as high-profile a submission as some previous entries like Bong Joon-ho’s Mother or Cannes prize-winner Secret Sunshine or then-biggest-Korean-box-office-hit The King and the Clown, and I’m not sure how much reception it’ll get abroad, but I’m still eager to see the movie when I can get my grubby hands on it. Those brother-against-brother, horrors-of-war movies always get me right *there* in the heart.
RELATED POSTSawards, Go Soo, Shin Ha-kyun