It is amazing during every crisis or time of stress, humans seem to without real thought to the consequences, make a hierarchy. A hierarchy from least to most expendable. We don’t really talk about it out loud and yet it is done. Each and every time. For instance, now, during the pandemic, it seems like we have put the elderly, poor and those of colour at the bottom of the pile. Those we are willing to sacrifice. Callous. Something we seem to do over and over.
Battle of Jangsari, directed by Kwak Kyung-taek Kim Tae-hun, is a story of similiar callousness. It is the story of a battallion of young soldiers during the Korean War with hardly any training who were sent out on what was essentially a suicide mission. Deemed expendable by those in power making the decisions.
The year is 1950 and the Korean War has started. Communist forces from the North are battling those in the South. There is an important location at Incheon the South must hold. They have decided to send in a landing operation but need the room for such an undertaking. It has been decided that 772 very young (the average age was 17) student soldiers with only two weeks of basic training under their belts will be sent forth with the hope of opening a path for the ensuing landing operation.
With precious little food, supplies and ammunition these young men are sent forward. It is expected that most will die. Not aware of their fate, the inexperienced soldiers begin a march to Jangsari Beach. Everything seems stacked against them. They are overmatched, under equipped, not well trained and some friction exists between them. Yet they will end up demonstrating to themselves, their country and the world what true heroism is.
Based on a true story, it is an example of true heroism and the corrupt upper levels of the army. How in times of conflict, human lives are not valued very much.
The battle scenes are quite well done. They are the prime reason to watch this film. Vivid. Frightening. Even horrifying, at times. They do tend to not rely on gore, however. There are some moments in the film which will harken you back to the Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan. Fierce battle. Young men dying. A beach.
These young men were heroes and largely forgotten. A film is deserved. Not sure that this one is enough. The good intentions are there to be seen and felt, but as a film it does suffer from some failings like an at times confusing story and the infusion of some English scenes being rather clumsy.