Starring: Kim Sang-Kyung as Min-Woo, Lee Jun-Ki as Jin-Woo, Lee Yo-Won as Shin-Ae, Ahn Sung-Ki as Heung-Soo
Rating: PG-13, depicts an actual event with violence
Running Time: 126 min
Twinkies: 4 tissue boxes
Background from wikipedia: President Park Chung-hee, after ruling for 18 years, was assassinated on October 26, 1979. This abrupt ending of an authoritarian regime left Korean politics in a state of instability. New President Choi Kyu-hah and his Cabinet had little control over the growing power of ROK Army General Chun Doo-hwan, who took control of the government through the Coup d’état of December Twelfth.
The nation’s democratization movements, which had been suppressed during Park’s tenure, were again awakening. With the beginning of a new semester in March 1980, professors and students expelled for pro-democracy activities returned to their universities, and student unions were formed. These unions led nationwide demonstrations for an array of reforms, including an end to martial law (declared after Park’s assassination), democratization, minimum wage demands, and freedom of press. These activities culminated in the anti-martial law demonstration at Seoul Station on May 15, 1980 in which about 100,000 students and citizens participated.
This movie centers around the events that took place from May 18-27, 1980: On May 18, 1980 students in Gwangju, South Korea gather in front of Chungnam National University to protest the closing of their university. The army that is stationed around the university move in quickly and uses lethal force on the students.
Taxi driver Min-Woo lives in Gwangju and watches over his younger brother Jin-Woo like a father. Min-Woo is also in love with a nurse named Shin-Ae who attends the same church as younger brother Jin-Woo. Shina-Ae’s father is retired military commander Heung-Soo. When Min-Woo drives near Chungnam National University he witnesses first hand the chaos and violence that is erupting in Gwangju. He quickly drives home and instructs his younger brother Jin-Woo to not take part in the student uprising. When one of the Jin-Woo’s classmates is killed by the military, Jin-Woo leads his classmates out into the streets to protest. Enraged citizens begin to take arms from nearby armories and police stations.
A few days later, things seem to settle down when the soldiers retreat from the city. The citizens in Gwangju soon realize that the military retreated in a strategic maneuver while awaiting reinforcements.
Musings: WOW! Mind…Blown! In watching this movie, I started thinking about the period during the Civil Rights movement here in the US during the 60′s. I remember the vivid pictures of the dogs, water hoses and tear gas; however, nothing could prepare me for this movie! Nothing! I was trying to wrap my brain around why the military felt the need to use such excessive violence against the initially unharmed civilians! I just could not understand it nor see the justification for it. The protests as they were depicted sure did not warrant being mowed down by automatic weaponry, that’s for sure.
Enough about that; overall, this was not just a good movie but a GREAT movie! I felt as I watched it, totally enthralled, glued to my seat. The acting by Kim Sang-Kyung (who I had never seen before) and Lee Yo Won was spectacular! Lee Jun Ki fans (myself included), be prepared and forewarned about the scene below (yes, I cried) between Min Woo and Jin Woo! Sad! Very Sad!
The siege against the University building at the end was extremely sad! Those moments between Min Woo and Shin-Ae as well as Min Woo and her father, will be scenes requiring you to whip out one of your tissue boxes. The previous two will have been used up by the time you get to these scenes. Of course, I will admit that even though this is a graphically violent movie; however, because it represents a historical event, there is no way I can rate this as an R-movie. War and violent events that are true should be shown and not hidden. I believe this has to be one of the darkest, modern events in South Korean history that I had ever seen. I thought the depiction of Nanking event was bad. This has definitely replaced those horrible memories in my mind.
Statistics at the end of the movie: The incident resulted in 207 deaths, 2,392 injured, and 987 missing people. But the exact number of casualty has been subjected to considerable dispute. Members of the military government were indicted with rebellion but the culprit ordering the open fire against the citizen has yet to be identified (may he rot in HELL! I apologize for that statement!)
Trailer is available on Youtube Website only. The movie is available on several sites. Ask me if your interested.
I’m available on Twitter. Thanks to all of you Twinkles out here who are taking the time to read! If you have a suggestion for a future review, just leave me a comment! I’m always happy to have movie suggestions.
As this is the last Lee Jun Ki movie to review, I have a special treat for next week! Stay tuned!!