The Battle of Jangsari

Vampire Owl: I hope that it would be like the battle we had with the zombies.

Vampire Bat: We had a battle with the zombies last year?

Vampire Owl: Yes, the one which was fought near the meeting point of two rivers.

Vampire Bat: Wan’t that a battle with the werewolves?

Vampire Owl: Yes, they looked like wolves, but technically, they were zombies.

Vampire Bat: I do not understand the idea which you are talking about.

Vampire Owl: See, these werewolves were bitten by zombies. Therefore, the are former werewolves who are now zombies.

Vampire Bat: So, you are taking out the werewolf qualities out of them, and saying that the zombie characteristics will takeover.

Vampire Owl: Yes, if you are bitten by an undead, you are no longer alive. The werewolves will acquire the qualities of the undead which bit them.

Vampire Bat: Okay, I guess the only problem will be if a werewolf is bitten by a zombie and a vampire. One has to wonder which characteristics will be taken by the wolf.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie’s background about? :: As the Second World War ended, the Allies lead by the Soviet Union and the United States of America liberated Korea from Japanese control, days after the dropping of atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With two major powers set to on a Cold War for many years after the defeat of Germany and Italy as well as the weakening of Great Britain and France due to war, Korea was divided into two zones of occupation, as the Soviets were in control of the northern half while the Americans administered the southern half. As different governments having exactly opposite ideologies were established on both sides, there was continuous tension, and each group proclaimed ownership of the whole of Korean peninsula, but didn’t launch a full-scale attack until then. But on the 25th of June, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea, it had marked the beginning of the Korean War, fought completely in the Korean peninsula.

So, what happens with the events here? :: North Korea, had the support of the major Communist nations of China and the Soviet Union while South Korea, had the support of the United States of America and its allies. The United Nations Security Council itself had approved the sending troops in support of South Korea against what was a full scale military invasion without provocation. A total of twenty one nations are supposed to have provided support to the United Nations defence of South Korea, but United States of America was the leader with ninety percent of the troops provided for the purpose. After the first two months of war, South Korean Army and the United States forces Korea were almost defeated. But in September 1950, an sea-based United Nations counter-offensive was to be launched at Incheon, to cut off many North Korean troops in South Korea. A group of seven hundred and seventy two student soldiers has the task of staging a diversionary mission at Jangsari Beach in South Korea.

And, what is to follow here, as this is war, and a case of final defence for the South Koreans :: This particular attempt at landing would trick the the North Korean forces into thinking that the opposition forces would be soon launching a decisive invasion there would distract the North Koreans from Incheon. But the waves are very high and there is a shortage of landing boats. The student soldiers have no idea what they are doing, and the only thing they has done since getting into the ship, is vomitting. This seems to be a strange and impossible mission on the beach for the students who are trained at nothing except a little boot camp time, while highly trained North Korean defence await on the shores. Can they succeed in this, or will they at least dare to try, as North Korea is very close to making its dreams of one Korean peninsula under them? How long can the South’s resistance at the Nakdong River in the southernmost region stand, and how good is the United Nations in stopping this?

The defence of The Battle of Jangsari :: As you might have expected, there is war written on it right from the beginning, as far as The Battle of Jangsari is concerned. With a thunderstorm seemingly around, we know that there will be no smooth sailing in the movie for the troops, and it is certainly a kind of foreshadowing. The movie is full of some nicely worked out scenes of war, with battle tanks, guns and landmines never ceasing to come up on the screen, as one battle follows the other. There are also those emotional sequences, as some of the soldiers even have a tale to tell, and we also come to know that this is a hopeless situation, from where an escape seems to be too distant. The area where the battles are fought is perfect to provide those nice visuals too. The performances are all good, especially considering the fact that we have a young cast here. Lee Ho-Jung plays the only female among the soldiers, and she does a fine job too.

The claws of flaw :: With a premise and an idea like this, the movie could have achieved a lot more for sure. As it gets near the end, things begin to get more and more predictable, even though there is no certainty about who all will be the ones to survive. The battles could have been more, and we needed to see more of the battles happening in other parts of Korea, at least as a quick reminder. Megan Fox’s character is underused, and there is not much being done to create a change there. The movie also suffers from the absence of female characters, both on the battlefield, and also outside. With Megan around, there could have been more, maybe even with the help of a flashback that goes far behind before the North Korean invasion started. For someone who is coming from outside countries like Korea, Russia, United States of America, Japan, United Kingdom and China, maybe people could use a little bit more of information on this war which hasn’t been known much at this part of the world.

How it finishes :: As far as The Battle of Jangsari as a war movie is concerned, there was lot more to be taken, but it doesn’t do that. It is still a fine film with a forgotten episode of war, which will always be something of interest. As we are not that familiar with this particular war in comparison to the World Wars and the Cold War, this could a fine new experience for us, as the Korean perspective only becomes more interesting. The war with some extraordinary deeds of courage, and an emotional touch which keeps getting stronger towards the end, makes The Battle of Jangsari a movie which needs to be watched. As we take a look at a movie on Korean War which might be the first film most us around here watch based on a war from that side, this might be a war movie you will recommend to many others. After all, there is some history around here, and most of the war movies teach you that, mostly from one side of the battling nations. They have surely kept this one simple and enjoyable.

Release date: 25th September 2019
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Kwak Kyung-taek, Kim Tae-hoon
Starring: Kim Myung-min, Megan Fox, Choi Min-ho, Kim Sung-cheol, Kim In-kwon, Kwak Si-yang, Jang Ji-Gun, Lee Ho-Jung, Lee Jae-wook, Dong Bang-Woo, George Eads, Jeong Jong-Jun, Kim Min-Kyu

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<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bacurau

Vampire Owl: Now, we have time for Portuguese movies too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and this one is not really from Portugal. It is Brazilian.

Vampire Owl: Well, we have always loved most of the things which are Brazilian.

Vampire Bat: You are saying that mostly related to the football team.

Vampire Owl: It is something that one would say during the FIFA World Cup.

Vampire Bat: Well, in that case, Brazil is not the only team in the picture.

Vampire Owl: Actually, nothing matches the fan support of Argentina and Brazil even during these days when the European teams are gaining the fans.

Vampire Bat: Yes, even though Germany, France, Spain, Italy and England got quite a good number of fans, and increasing.

Vampire Owl: Let us now dedicate this movie watching adventure to the Brazilian football team then.

Vampire Bat: I am very much in support of such a thing, but it is to be noted that Movies of the Soul doesn’t get much of the views from Brazil or Portugal, even though the former is picking up these days of Corona Virus and lock-down.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: After the death of her grandmother Carmelita (Lia de Itamaraca), Teresa (Barbara Colen) comes home to her village in Brazil after a long time to find that something is not right, and it is not the same as she had left it then. Some of her old friends like Acacio (Thomas Aquino) are still there though, and there has not been much modern development out there. Bacurau, a small fictional settlement in Brazil’s remote backcountry doesn’t get much of an attention from anyone in the city, as nobody really comes that way. It doesn’t work even as a tourist destination with so many hills and forests around. Even those who are contesting for the mayor spot just comes there with some books and medicines, and after a few minutes, just leaves the place. It is so remote that if someone comes in an advanced car or bike, people would be feeling that there is something wrong, or something special is going to happen out there.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Even though there was a death recently, they have no time for mourning as the water supply has been cut off with water tankers coming that way having holes on it, animals from the forest are running through the streets, and their place has disappeared from all satellite maps completely. Soon, there is no network connection in their mobile phones either. Along with the same, some strangers are walking arouns with guns, and an Unidentified Flying Object has been located nearby. It had to do something with people who were not from around the settlement, and not even from further out in Sao Paulo, Brasilia or Rio de Janeiro. What could be happening around here? Can there be something sinister in play here? Will it be the work of something paranormal or that of influential people who have some evil plans?

The defence of Bacurau :: The visuals of a fictional, remote, Brazilian village makes an impact, and so does the people there, most of them being simple, likable people. The movie does get into the mood of a thriller in the later stages, and there is some nice shooting to go with it as the action begins. With danger getting closer, there are some stranger, but effective measures taken, and the whole situation changes. During the time of Corona Virus, this is more relevant, as people are quarantined into small towns and villages. There is the question about what one can do while facing an armed attack at the same time – with no defense against the human predators, what would the people who are locked in like animals do? The terror created colonialism and terrorism has a new face, as people are not considered to be humans, but things to be hunted and killed. When someone chooses your home as a shooting range with a racist ideology, there is nothing else to do, but to fight back, and the movie shows the underdogs coming up with the same, nicely.

The claws of flaw :: There is the chance of people having doubt about this movie in the beginning, wondering where the tale is heading, and only after establishing everything that we see a certain change beginning to happen. When a lady gets a lift with a truck driver and they are traveling in a road in the middle of nowhere, you feel that this is going to be a very slow, clueless, award movie in which nothing much happens, and you have to find meaning for everything after spending days thinking about it, but you have to get over that feeling to start enjoying this movie which is much more. It doesn’t follow the pattern of the usual action adventure thriller, and never does it try to explain everything which is happening around there, thus making it not a movie for everyone. Some sequences seem to be unwanted, and it surely drags in the beginning, taking time to get into its world. After avoiding some unnecessary sequences and shortening the run-time, this could have a better one to look out for.

Performers of the soul :: Berbara Colenmight seem like the main character in the beginning, but she is not – it is to be noted that she does come up with a simple and serene performance though. Then there is Sonia Braga, but she is not the leading lady either. Thomas Aquino also has a big role to play here, but he remains just one of the characters when we consider the film with its totality. Silvero Pereira as Lunga comes into the picture late, and has his own moments to steal some of the show. But one has to feel that this is a movie without one protagonist or an antagonist, as there are many characters spread throughout the movie – in the beginning, we think that one person is the star, and then we see the focus shifting from there, and other characters are thrown into the picture with chances of being the leader, but the same keeps changing all the time. There are moments when one feels that there is something here that people from other parts of the world might end up missing. Well, the approval rating of 90% based on 125 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes should mean something more.

How it finishes :: Bacurau is the first Portuguese movie that I have watched, and I have been wishing to watch one for a long time. The movie is Brazilian and not Portuguese in identity, and is thus closer to Latin America than Europe, providing a different experience. It is great to see a new world displayed in the movie, with all its simplicity, and the natural problems which come with the same. The action comes in the later stages, and the movie turns into a thrilling adventure without any warning. Bacurau might be a good choice to start watching as far as those different or rather strange movies are concerned. There are times when we think that Bacurau is not just a small town in the middle of nowhere that struggles to be displayed on the map, but a reflection of what can happen to people when facing the inherent cruelty from the rest of the human beings who consider themselves to be very much superior in race, technology, colour, strength or anything else.

Release date: 25th September 2019
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles
Starring: Sonia Braga, Udo Kier, Barbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Karine Teles, Julia Marie Peterson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.