Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: My Way (2011)

My Way (Review)
Kang Je-gyu/Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri/2011
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...the best war film since Taegukgi."

Rival sprinters Kim Jun-shik (Jang Dong-gun) and Tatsuo Hasegawa (Joe Odagiri) attempt to survive World War 2...

My Way starts off a bit like a Rocky film. Kim Jun-shik is the underdog runner who trains with his rickshaw, while Tatsuo Hasegawa is the professional sprinter who trains with science. Anyway, after an outrageous injustice during a marathon, Kim Jun-shik is forced to join the Imperial Army. At this point, Jun-shik crosses paths with Tatsuo once again. The Imperial Army isn't their last stop, though, as the war forces the pair to fight for the Soviets, and even the Germans shortly afterward. The climax is magnificent, the ending finishing the film with pure power.

My Way is a very interesting story. Apparently, this story is based on real events. I hadn't read about these events prior to the film, so it was a new, refreshing experience. Much like Taegukgi, My Way has a strong focus on characters and their respective character arcs. This, in turn, makes for a much more effective war film. The rivalry between Jun-shik and Tatsuo is lively and realistic, although a bit cliché. Also, thanks to the focus on character, the film doesn't focus on villainizing any particular group, despite being occasionally heavy-handed.

The war sequences are epic -- the scale is marvelous, and the action is pumped full of adrenaline and suspense. And, there at plenty of war sequences spread throughout the film; this also helps in balancing and pacing. The violence in these war sequences are shockingly graphic -- people on fire, being steamrolled by tanks, blown to bits by explosions, and so on. This magnificent blend of honest character and gritty war makes My Way the best war film since Taegukgi.

The acting is superb. Jang Dong-gun is a sure bet; as usual, his performance is full of genuine emotion. Joe Odagiri was very impressive with his superb acting, as well. The music is epic during its war sequences, and honestly sentimental during its emotional punches. The cinematography is perfect; despite such an atrocious subject, My Way towers as a visual powerhouse with its stunning beauty and amazing camerawork. Director Kang Je-gyu crafts a shocking war film; the film is beautiful, and its focus on character make this an original and appreciate entry in the war genre.

Overall, My Way is a masterpiece. The story is emotionally powerful and its one that hasn't been milked dry. The war sequences are breathtakingly elegant, despite the subject, and stupendously suspenseful. And, most importantly, it's a story that avoids pointing fingers, and instead focuses on its honest characters. Don't miss this contemporary classic.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Graphic violence and gore.

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