Writer: Lai Swee WeiWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Flags Of Our Fathers”, “Brotherhood”
Inspired by a letter found in the pocket of student-soldier Lee Woo-heun who died in action, the film takes on a very true battle between hundreds of North Korean soldiers and 71 South Korean teenage soldiers who were left on their own to defend a support line along Nakdong River during the Korean War in the 1950s. Released in Korea mid-June 2010, the timing couldn't have come at a better time as the year marks as the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, paying homage to the students who bravely sacrificed themselves for their nation.
Fetching big bucks at the Korean box office, "71 Into the Fire" undoubtedly worked its magic by casting top Korean idols - Kwon Sang-woo, Choi Seung-hyun (famously known as T.O.P from K-pop group Big Bang), Cha Seung-won and Kim Seung-woo. Although Seung-won and Seung-woo have very limited onscreen presence, moviegoers would be glad to have an eyeful of the two dashing leads: T.O.P, who tackles an initially timid soldier that gradually develops the courage of a commander and Sang-woo, who plays a stubborn, revengeful youth that eventually learns to cooperate as a team. The casts have all given an exceptional performance, however Sang-woo's character needed to be toned down as his bad boy character is overly stereotypical.
"71 Into The Fire" showcases epic war battles that are very raw and believable, adequately taking up two thirds of the movie, while the rest focuses on the emotional development of the main lead. It also sends out a vital message that the North-South Koreans aren't any different from each other as one scene depicts a North Korean soldier softly crying out for his mother at the brink of death, while T.O.P's character relates to his cries. Audiences will undoubtedly experience the emotional rollercoaster of these teenagers who are vying for survival in an adult war. Moreover, the ending truly delivers an emotional mix as it ends with a big bang (excuse the pun) and the closing titles give a description as what was an 11-hour standoff during that fateful day. To the film's credibility, the director also included brief testimonials from two real-life student soldiers at the end credits.
"71 Into The Fire" features an honest yet dramatic war flick that effectively questions the meaning of war. But sadly, it's a situation that still holds till this day across the inter-Korean border.Cinema Online, 25 October 2010