Directed by Kwan Kyung-Tae, The Battle of Jangsari is a gruelling war thriller showcasing a horrific battle of the Korean war in the 1950’s. At a crucial point in the war, a small group of South Korean soldiers must fight for a tactical strip of land on Incheon, called Jangsari Beach. The inexperienced group of underdogs consists mostly of recruits with (at most) 10 days of training and are severely underprepared in ammunition, rations, and overall supplies yet they must try to fight against the odds and the brutality of war.
The beauty of The Battle of Jangsari is that really portrays the different perspectives that these young soldiers experience when going through the pitifulness of war. Focusing on the recruits, each character has their own individual story but there seem to be two common motivations that unite them: they either want revenge on the North Koreans for attacking them or they want to be seen as heroes for protecting their own people, the South Koreans. In Jangsari, Kwan does a great job showing how the propaganda of South Korea has influenced the young soldiers to fight against their enemies. In reality, a lot of North Korea’s soldiers were people forced to fight for their country or face execution. Another thing the film takes note of is that Korea had only split in 1945. So, only 5 years before the war, they had considered themselves one country and one people. As a result, the war ultimately became brother fighting against brother as both sides were Koreans fighting for freedom from one another and killing each other senselessly.
Personally, I loved how beautiful the sets were and how each scene captured the intensity of war. Through the large set pieces, the viewer feels like they’re actually there joining the South Koreans and fighting in the name of freedom. Featuring an enormous cast, the film brings to life the scale of war and the devasting onslaught of bullets and artillery firing constantly. In doing so, Jangsari proves that, no matter beautiful or blessed your life was before, once you reach the battlefield of war nothing changes the devastation of what hot lead and shrapnel can do to human flesh.
Overall, The Battle of Jangsari is a great war film that showcases an intense battle at a crucial point in the Korean war. In the end, I recommend the film as it beautifully portrays the futility of war and the senselessness of violence.
The Battle of Jangsari is available on BluRay and On Demand now.