Battlefield Heroes (2011) Review

Director: Lee Joon Ik
Casts: Jung Jin Young, Lee Mun Shik, Ryoo Seung Ryong, Sun Woo Shin, Yoon Je Moon, Lee Kwang Soo, Kang Ha Neul
Genre: Drama, Action, Comedy
Running Time: 117 minutes
Certi: 12 (South Korea)

“Battlefield Heroes”, which is a sequel to “Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield), presents a battle between the Korean kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo and the Chinese Tang dynasty with comedic elements. Silla and Chinese Tang Dynasty cooperate as allies to attack their rival Goguryeo. Strategist Kim Yu Shin (Jung Jin Young) wants to unify Korea. However, the Chinese Tang dynasty desires to control the Korean peninsula. Thus, Kim secretly joins forces with Goguryeo to stop Tang dynasty’s evil plan.

Director Lee Joon Ik has done a good job in making Korean historical period film, like this, much more interesting by putting up some spices aka comedic elements in this film. He tries to emphasis on the characters that even though they are serious in politics, they even have the funny sides of them. My favourite parts of comedic scenes are the rice dance and the married couple (Thingy and Ga Dum). These scenes make me laughed until my stomach hurts. For example, in the rice dance, Silla tries to get Goguryeo’s attention by providing them rice. Then, Silla men start to sing and dance with the ‘rice’ song. That is hilarious in a battlefield. As for the married couple, it is nice to see that even though Thingy does what he can to proof his love for Ga Dum, Ga Dum just shows her cold attitude. In the end, they lived happily ever after at a nice house where there is no war (the ending is funny).

Besides the comedic elements, there is also some seriousness in this film. This is mostly on the battlefield. First, the Nam brothers: two older brothers fight among each other while the youngest try to stop them from killing each other. In the end, the eldest one is killed by one of the Tang men. This leaves both brothers crying for their loss. The second one when Thingy is longing for home when he is in the battlefield. He cries for his mother whom he misses so much. To me, it is a metaphor that like other men they miss their home so much. You could say that they struggle to fight till the very end but they also have families whom they miss them. Finally, it is Kim Yoo Shin’s strategy which I find it interesting. He tries whatever he can to unify Korea and stop the evil Tang army to take the whole Korea. Even though he is the one who make me laugh, but he comes up with plans that the Silla men will listen (eg. negotiations with Silla men to be the commando unit).

Overall, this film has the balance of both comedic and serious elements which make this film interesting. At the same time, for me, I am able to understand the Korean history better this way. Why? Because if this storyline is monotone (minus the entertaining and comedic elements), then I don’t think that it will be interesting. I can see that Director Lee Joon Ik has taken Korean history to the audiences through films which he has made like this, ‘King and The Clown’, ‘Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield’, and ‘Sunny’ with some entertaining elements to spice up these films. For ‘Battlefield Heroes’, he points out that he feels the film characters who have gone through a lot. I really enjoy this film and I am looking forward to more of his works in Korean historical films. Since I started to be interested in Korean history, looks like I am going to watch ‘Once Upon a Time in A Battlefield’. I hope that Korean historical films are known in the international markets so that they learn more about the Korean history. To me, in order to make Korean historical films interesting, two elements are needed: storyline (with ‘spicy’ elements and seriousness) and characters. Without them, it will be boring. In the interview, I asked him what he will be doing within five years. Apparently, he is writing up a script about Korean mythology which is based at Jeju Island. Hmmm…Interesting. This is my first time learning that there are Korean myths. It draws my attention into understanding both Korean history and mythology even more. I will be looking forward to that and so do you.

Rating: 9/10

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