With a death toll of more than three million North and South Korean soldiers and civilians, it is hard to comprehend how the Korean War could ever be referred to as “The Forgotten War”. The Korean War finished nearly exactly where it began at the 38th Parallel. Brotherhood is certainly one of the most intense war films I have seen since Steven Spielberg’s Saving Privet Ryan. Je-kyu Kang takes us on a sprawling bloody journey of chaos, bitter conflict and intense violence.
With the communist North Korea invading the South, two South Korean brothers, Jin-Seok (Won Bin) and Jin-Tae (Jang Dong-Gun) are drafted into the military and without any basic training are forced to the front line. With Jin-Seok’s heart ailment condition it’s not long before the strains trench warfare, constant enemy artillery fire begins to take hold of the young draftee. Knowing that his younger would die, Jin-Tae decides to volunteer on daring suicidal missions in a hope he would earn the Medal of Honour and discharge his sick younger brother.
Battles are won, hills are taken and ruined cities are occupied. Jin-Seok proves to be a superb warrior in a once feeble platoon. But as the Jin-Tae popularity begins to grow beyond the ranks of his platoon to a war hero. Jin-Seok begins to resent his older brother. As the war rages on, we begin to see the once respected caring older brother turn to a blood thirsty murderer. The two brothers slowly become disaffected from each other and we see that the war has not only changed their perception of life, but has killed the innocence previously within them.
Brotherhood is an emotional narrative of two brothers, who were forced to fight in a horrific war, truly showing the savage ordeal of the Korean War and the loss of brotherly love. The powerful and horrific battle scenes in Brotherhood are just as, if not more, gripping as Spielberg’s beach landing in Saving Private Ryan. Just like the Korean War, Brotherhood is definitely a film that didn’t get the attention it deserved from the Western audience. Not surprisingly if Brotherhood was an American production, filmed for a Western audience and had a premier at London Lester Square, I’m pretty certain that it would have made an Academy Award, Golden Globe or BAFTA nomination.