The Front Line (2011 film)
|The Front Line|
South Korean Poster
|Directed by||Jang Hoon|
|Produced by||Lee Woo-jeong
|Written by||Park Sang-yeon|
|Music by||Jang Young-gyoo
|Editing by||Kim Sang-beom
|Running time||133 minutes|
The Front Line (Hangul: 고지전; RR: Gojijeon; MR: Kojijŏn; also known as Battle of Highlands) is a 2011 South Korean war film directed by Jang Hoon, set during the 1953 ceasefire of the Korean War. This is the third film by director Jang Hoon, after completing Secret Reunion and Rough Cut. It was selected as South Korea's submission to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, but did not make the final shortlist. It also won four Grand Bell Awards, including Best Film.
Early in the Korean War, as the North is rolling through South Korea, Eun-pyo and Soo-hyeok are captured during a battle and brought to North Korean captain Jung-yoon. Jung-yoon declaims to the prisoners that the war will be over in a week and that he knows exactly why they are fighting this devastating war, brother against brother. Afterwards he lets the prisoners go free, so that they can help reconstruct the nation after the war.
Two years later, despite ceasefire negotiations, the fighting continues around the Aerok Hills on the eastern front, as that would help determine the future dividing line between the North and the South. The hills continue to change hands, so that even the ceasefire negotiators don't always know who controls them.
Amidst the fighting, the South Korean officer commanding Alligator Company, who are fighting for Aerok Hill, is found dead by a Southern bullet. First Lieutenant Kang Eun-pyo of the Defense Security Command is sent to investigate the murder and also an apparent mole who had mailed a letter from a Northern soldier to his family in the South.
Eun-pyo arrives at the front lines accompanied with Captain Jae-oh, the new commanding officer of Alligator Company, and a raw recruit. Eun-pyo's perceptions change quickly upon arriving at the eastern front. The acting commander, Captain Young-il, is addicted to morphine, some of the men are wearing Northern uniforms to keep warm and refer to their fallen friends as "comrades", war orphans live among the soldiers, and Eun-pyo's old friend Kim Soo-hyeok is not only alive but has moved up in rank. He has also transformed from a scared and useless soldier to a ruthless killer and tactician. Also, the entire unit seems to be attempting to suppress their memories about something unspoken that happened in Pohang, earlier in the war.
It turns out that Jeong-yoon is commanding the North Korean forces against them, and after the North has again retaken the hill, the South take it back and Eun-pyo joins them in battle. When the fighting is finished he sees that the new recruit is drunk. As alcohol was not distributed to troops, his suspicion leads him to discover Soo-hyeok, Young-il, and a few other soldiers enjoying the contents of a secret communication box buried within the hills in a cave that acts as a mail system and gift exchange from one side to the other. It had originally been used to trade insults between the sides, but evolved into exchanging letters and presents. The North would leave rice wine, and the South would leave American made cigarettes and chocolate.
Winter turns to summer and the land continues to change sides. Secrets are held not only by Soo-hyeok but among the seasoned fighters on both sides. Near the end of the war, Chinese troops are deployed in human wave tactics to attack the hill, and the North Koreans are positioned to cut off the retreat route of the South Koreans. During the battle, Jae-oh errs by committing his men to the front line despite the pleas of his lieutenants to fall back to a more defensible position. Eventually, the hill is overrun, and Jae-oh is murdered by Soo-hyeok after refusing to retreat. Soo-hyeok in turn is killed by a North Korean sniper nicknamed 'Two Seconds'.
After the battle, news of an armistice agreement reaches both sides, and celebrations start. A group of North and South Korean soldiers encounter each other washing up in a mountain valley stream, but after a tense early moment, send each other off with goodbyes. However, the armistice is not yet in effect for another 12 hours. Both sides are told by their superiors to fight for the most strategically important pieces of land. As a result, there is a final climactic battle in which Eun-pyo kills 'Two Seconds', who turns out to be a woman. Captain Young-il's arm and leg are blown off by an explosion and then is shot and killed by Jung-yoon. Eventually, everyone on both sides is killed except for the North Korean commander Jung-yoon and Eun-pyo.
Eun-pyo finds Jung-yoon in the cave with the gift box. He asks him why exactly they are fighting. Jung-yoon replies that he knew once, but has now forgotten. They hear on the radio that the armistice has come into effect and all fighting is to stop, to which they burst out laughing. They share a smoke, and Jung-yoon dies shortly after.
The movie ends with a shot of Eun-pyo walking down the hill among the corpses of all the fallen soldiers, leaving the fate of Aerok Hill unknown.
- Shin Ha-kyun as First Lieutenant Kang Eun-pyo
- Go Soo as First Lieutenant Kim Soo-hyeok
- Lee Je-hoon as Captain Shin Il-young, the young squad leader
- Ryu Seung-soo as Oh Gi-yeong
- Ko Chang-seok as Master-Sergeant Yang Hyo-sam
- Kim Ok-bin as Cha Tae-gyeong, the sniper
- Ryu Seung-ryong as Hyeon Jeong-yoon, the North Korean commander
- Lee David as Nam Seong-shik, the young private
- Seo Joon-yeol as tobacco soldier
- Choi Min as anti-aircraft army officer
- Jo Min-ho as 2P radio soldier
- Kim Rok-gyeong as reservist soldier
- Han Seong-yong as squad leader
- Ha Su-ho as Third Platoon member
- Yoon Min-soo as Alligator Company staff sergeant
- Jo Jin-woong as Yoo Jae-ho
- Park Yeong-seo as Hwang Seon-cheol
- Jeong In-gi
- Woo Seung-min
- Jang In-ho
- Ha Seong-cheol
|Best Cinematography||Kim Woo-hyeong|
|Best Lighting||Kim Jae-min|
|Best Planning||Lee Woo-jeong|
|Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Film|
|Best Director||Jang Hun|
|Best Screenplay||Park Sang-yeon|
|Best New Actor||Lee Je-hoon|
- "Gojijeon (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Lee, Maggie (9 August 2011). "The Frontline: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Lee, Hyo-won (11 July 2011). "'Front' brings harrowing views of war". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Elley, Derek (27 July 2011). "The Front Line". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Kuipers, Richard (23 October 2011). "The Front Line". Variety. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Paquet, Darcy. "The Front Line". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
- Park, Sung-hee (16 June 2011). "The Front Line spotlights the Forgotten War". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Ki, Sun-min (22 July 2011). "Battlefield film begins at war’s end". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Noh, Jean (2011-08-24). "South Korea submits The Front Line for Oscar race". Screen International. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- "63 Countries Vie for 2011 Foreign Language Film Oscar". Oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- "9 Foreign Language Films Vie for Oscar". Oscars.org. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- "The Front Line top winner at Korea’s Grand Bell Awards". Korean Film Council. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Official website (Korean)
- Official website (Japanese)
- The Front Line at the Internet Movie Database
- The Front Line at the Korean Movie Database
- The Front Line at HanCinema
|Grand Bell Award for Best Film