* Please note that the review discs I was sent were comprised of the Rental version of the film itself, along with the second disc found on the Platinum Edition.
Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking - HONG KONG DVD Heaven…but to be fair, I knew little about Brotherhood, and even less of where it originated from, after it landed upon my doormat a few weeks ago
Two brothers, Jin-Tae (Jang Dong-Gun) and Jin-Seok (Won Bin), are forced to join the South Korean army in an attempt to fight off the invading North.
Upon hearing that a congressional medal will guarantee Jin-Seok’s discharge from the Army, Jin-Tae takes it upon himself to risk life and limb to obtain one. As Jin-Tae’s desire to see Jin-Seok safe escalates (putting their friends in their Unit at risk) the brothers grow further apart, until one horrific incident splits them for good….
War films are never “brilliant” in my opinion.
Almost from the opening scene, the film hooks you in and never lets go throughout its 2 hour-plus running time. A lot of ground is covered in both dramatic and geographical terms, but it rarely feels like a moment of screen-time is wasted.
The two leads each handle their characters magnificently, with the supporting cast also impressing. The changing relationship between the brothers is explored with great aplomb by director Kang Je-Gyu, and the motives of Jin-Tae are believably explored.
The quite horrific battle sequences are reminiscent of Black Hawk Down in cinematic style, and Saving Private Ryan in their ability to shock, creating a tangible sense of fear and death throughout.
If I’m being ultra-critical, then I have to mention that the film does briefly slip into melodrama near its end. This is fleeting, but does seem at odds with the general feel of the screenplay.
Possibly the most impressive thing about the film, and the most surprising, is its conclusion. At the film's close I was struck by how relatively low-key the final scenes were – maybe I’ve been brainwashed by too many Hollywood epics which end with a "message" of some sort – but I appreciated the way in which you were left to focus on the characters, rather than a cheap political dig at either North or South Korea.
This is a truly epic film – not just due to its scope or direction, but because of its reliance on character rather than set-pieces to drive its story.
By this film immediately.
Quite simply superb.
There really is little left to say, other than this is one of the best looking transfers I've seen from Premier Asia/HKL for a long, long time.
Although sadly lacking the DTS track on the disc I was supplied with (which would no doubt be immense), the 5.1 soundtrack is very good indeed. Directional effects are dynamic and dialogue is clear, while the cracking musical score is reproduced excellently.
As I neither speak, nor understand, Korean I can only go with my gut instincts:
Brilliant menus which utilise the look of the film.
THE WAR ROOM
" Battle Plans”
“Honoured in Dispatches”
MINISTRY OF PROGANDA
“Don’t Look Back In Anger”
“History Through the Lens”
“Tears of Fire”
Trailers and info for The Grudge, Champion, Bang-Rajan, Volcano High, Ong-Bak and The Warrior
An impressive number of features, which contain a depth of information rarely seen on Premier Asia/Hong Kong Legends releases. My only disappointment comes from the subtitles which appear for the crew’s names. They flash up so quickly they’re almost impossible to spot and are then not translated again for the rest of the feature. This makes it rather difficult to remember who the interviewee is, and what part they played in the films conception.
Aside from that, the extras certainly do the film justice.
There's really not much more to say, other than you MUST own this film.