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Film

Time Out says

Kwang-Hyun Park’s engaging, competently directed debut, a provocatively pacifist Cold War drama set after the 1950 UN amphibious invasion at Inchon, near the border of North and South Korea, was a surprise and massive domestic hit. Its sentimental story sees two separate trios of cut-off troops from opposing sides (the UN platoon includes a downed US Navy pilot) adopting an uncertain truce as they stumble upon a Shangri-La-like rural village innocent of martial corruption. Park is clearly mindful of the increased levels of unease caused by the recent belligerent stance of Pyongyang as well as deep-seated historical notions of sundered ‘brotherhood’ in his divided country. He adopts, nevertheless, a broadly farcical, sometimes pantomimic approach – including bizarre sequences of baseball, karate and hill-sledding or singing boogie-woogie – often reminiscent of the initial humanist comedy of Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’, before tragic ironies come exploding in. Some aspects of the film’s parable – along with its Arcadian rural romanticism and winsome magical elements – may be lost on Western audiences, but its gently affecting characterisations and pleas on the waste of war are universal enough. The film shares its rhetoric with one of the soldiers: ‘How in the world did this get so mixed up?’.

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