Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: The Front Line (2011)

The Front Line (Review)
Jang Hoon/Shin Ha-kyun/2011
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...this isn't 'just another war film.'"

During the Korean War ceasefire, First Lieutenant Eun-pyo (Shin Ha-kyun) is sent to the front lines to investigate the death of a commanding officer by a South Korean bullet and the possibility of a mole in the Alligator Company...

The Front Line is a blend of mystery and war film. The story starts off a little slow and fails to land its hooks, but it quickly irons out for a smooth and consistent ride. The story follows Eun-pyo as he visits Alligator Company, who are fighting a seesaw battle for Aerok Hills, to investigate the death and the mole. At the same time, he follows his duty and participates in the missions of his crew, which includes all-out warfare and hunting a notorious sniper. There are a few unexpected twist and turns and some tense showdowns between comrades, and it leads to an incredible climax. The ending is chilling -- a contemplative and haunting ending.

The Front Line is an effective war film. The story is unique as the mystery takes the forefront and the war serves as an effective backdrop; not to say one outweighs the other since they're both masterfully crafted, it's just one's more subtle than the other. For example, the film has a subtle emphasis on the atrocities of war -- you know exactly how to feel, but the film doesn't have to directly tell you -- you just know. Aside from its interesting story and contemplative themes, The Front Line becomes all-around effective through its tense showdowns and suspenseful action sequences; there aren't as many war sequences as My Way or Taegukgi, but they're equally impressive.

Shin Ha-kyun is great as the lead; a charismatic leading man with great variety in his emotions and genuine delivery. The rest of the cast is equally impressive. The film is shot beautifully; ironically, films based on one of the most difficult and horrendous subjects (war) tend to have the most breathtaking cinematography, like My Way and Taegukgi. The music plays a smaller role in this film, but, when it does play, it's incredibly effective and moving. I noticed some spelling and grammar mistakes in the English subtitles, but none were detrimental. Director Jang Hoon is great; the film is thought-provoking and powerful thanks to his sublime and subtle style.

Overall, The Front Line is a fantastic war film. The investigation and war elements help amplify the war sequences, and they also help this film develop a very distinct style -- this isn't "just another war film." I only had some issues with the slow introduction pacing, but that's quickly ironed out.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, including gore during the war sequences.

No comments:

Post a Comment