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71: Into the Fire 2010

  • John H. Lee
  • June 16, 2010
  • 120 mins
  • English
  • War
A civil war broke out in the 1950's between North and South Korea which changed the country forever. 71: Into the Fire centres on the struggles of 71 student soldiers that fought through the Korean War. Using real people and events, the film exposes the personal and physical conflicts that these students faced when finding themselves on the last line of defence in Pohang girls’ middle school, needing to hold out until back up from other Korean troops and the Allies arrived.

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The first half of this movie is quite... peculiar.

There are just too many "stupidities", so to speak, that it shouldn't happen in a war. There are scenes where the student soldiers was ambushed by one North Korean and all of them chased the enemy to an exposed field and get massacred. Another scene: one of the student soldier walked in the forest randomly and get caught. Another one: a student soldier destroyed the supply stock because he played around with grenade.

Granted, they are kids. Maybe the directors wanted to portray, despite how amateur and unprofessional they are, all of them are still patriots of South Korea. But that doesn't explain how those amateur soldiers defeat dozens of trained North Korean soldiers (and I mean literally dozens - there are scenes where the North Koreans just ran into the line of fire).

Besides the "stupidities", the movie also lacks character development. In the end there are only two memorable characters: Jang-Beom the main character and Kap Jo the deviant. Others seem to be a mere canon fodder, with a few of them appears quite distinct because of physical features (like the fat kid, the four-eyed geek kid, but I can't remember the names). When someone get killed, there's hardly a reason for audience to symphatize. However, given the lack of development on the other characters, we are not presented with good character development on those two either. We never knew who Jang-Beom is, where did he come from, what relationship he had with the older mentor in the army, why the commander trusted him, etc. We don't even get how he managed to handle his fear (he trembled when he see a charging North Korean soldier in the first 15 minutes).

Putting those problem aside, this movie has good actors and good acting. The visual effect also looks great, comparable to today Hollywood movie. But again, seriously, the first half of the movie is filled with "stupidities". It got interesting only in the second half of the movie.

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