71: Into the Fire review

Cast
Choi Seung Hyeon (T.O.P.) – Oh Jang Boem
Kwon Sang Woo – Koo Kap Jo
Cha Seung Won – Park Moo Rang
Kim Seung Woo – Kang Seok Dae

MV
Official site, Festive Films

This review is a little late. Sorry. Actually, I did start on it before I left but just simply had no time to finish it as I absolutely had to rush to the airport already.

Anyway, as I mentioned to the very nice lady at Festive Films, I’m not really keen on war movies. I’m also not too keen on horror movies but that’s another story. But I was curious about TOP’s performance in the movie. Because, well, let’s face it, he is a very big reason why some people may be watching the movie.

TOP
Gist
It is the Korean War- the North is fighting against the South for control. Lots of lives were lost and many of them young children. Based on a true story, this movie is about how 71 students fought a North Korean army at the Pohang Girls’ Middle School on 25 June 1950. Oh Jang Boem, a very young soilder has just been through a battle where he witnessed the death of his friend. He is traumatised. But it was because of this experience that he was left in charge of a group of young student soliders to defend the school (which is supposed to be a stratgic site but I forgot why). Naturally, the rest, who are much older than him, thought he was not good enough to lead. Amongst them is Kap Jo.

Kwon Sang Woo
Kap Jo is actually a criminal but who has volunteered to join the army to escape the prison cells (would they have any rooms for prison cells during war?). Anyway, he is obviously a gang leader and he is certainly not going to listen to a young pretty boy, who probably can’t even fight. But then, they shouldn’t have to fight coz that place is fairly safe.

And then along comes the big, bad North Koreans, led by the very confident Commander Park Moo Rang. He gave them a chance to live by giving them till the next day noon to give up and surrender.

Cha Seung Won
Of course the 71 students didn’t and what ensued was one big bloody battle. It was a heoric story because if I remember the story correctly, the 71 students managed to hold off the North Korean army long enough to make a difference to the outcome of the war in some way.

Overview:
Did I enjoy the movie? I guess as far as war movies go, I did enjoy it. I had expected to be bored about all the silly fightings. But it wasn’t violent for the sake of being violent. The battle scenes were there not to make a statement and act as the centrepiece. They were not over-the-top. The story was just simply about this group of students who tried very hard to fight a war that they were thrown into. There were no heroic acts because they were not trying to be heroes.

Some scenes stood out in my mind as I recalled the movie (which I watched more than 3 weeks ago. One was Kap Jo killing a very, very, very young Korean soldier as they were armbushed in the forest. His reason- any North Korean who holds a weapon is an enemy. The other scene was one of the student holding on to his young injured brother, as he laid dying in his arms. His young brother kept telling him that he felt like shitting (his guts were coming out) and he wanted to die. Now, that was one heart wrenching scene.

Some parts of the story were a little cliché like the clashes between Kwon Sang Woo and TOP and the ‘apparent’ desertion of Kwon Sang Woo’s character, only to see him and his buddies back to help TOP again (I kept thinking of Harrison Ford in Star Wars). It was that sort of character. And the ending scene on top of the roof was just plain silly. It was a just a little too long (I know it’s the climax) but hor, it was beginning to look like the villain who cannot die.

Which comes to my view of the various actors in the movie. What did I think of them?

I did not know what to expect out of TOP (I did not watch Iris). I only know him as part of Big Bang, a boy band. So I was surprised by his performance, in a good way. Ít was not great, standing ovation acting but I think this boy got potential…. namely because of his eyes. This guy’s eyes speaks volume and what he didn’t say, he did it through those eyes. Hopefully his next acting role will allow him to ‘speak’ more because he cannot keep acting as the strong, silent type if he wants to be taken seriously as an actor.

As for Kwon Sang Woo, I’m afraid at the risk of incurring the wrath of his many fans, I didn’t see any real breakthrough. He reminded me of ‘Cinderella Man’ and ‘Almost Love’. Maybe he has been too much typecasted in this sort of roles.

Kim Seung Woo as the senior, caring commander was good, but not enough of screen presence to make his role memorable enough. Although you can still tell that he is a veteran in those few scenes.

Kim Seung Woo
The star of the show, in my opinion and certainly the one with the juicy role was Cha Seung Won. He may be a big, bad guy. He may be the villain. He may be the enemy but gosh, he is truely charasmatic. He is good at being bad. You couldn’t really tell what he was thinking from his lack of emotions on his face, (except of course that he was very confident and arrogant). Many of my friends have told me what a great actor he was in the drama, ‘City Hall’ with Kim Sun Ah. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the new drama, ‘Athena’. ^^

’71:Into the Fire’ is still showing at the Golden Village cinemas this weekend. But I think it may be the last weekend as there are lots of movies coming along the way. So do go watch it if you can this long weekend. It’s a shame that TOP didn’t get a chance to promote his own movie in Singapore. I heard they tried very hard but the schedule just didn’t click.

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