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The Front Line(고지전)

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Korea · 2011
2h 13m
Director Jang Hoon
Starring Shin Ha-kyun, Go Soo, Lee Je-hoon, Ryu Seung-su
Genre Action, Drama, War

Toward the end of the Korean War, an uneasy ceasefire is ordered, but fierce fighting continues out on the Eastern front line of the Aerok Hills, in an expanse of land called the Aero-K. The ultimate prize is a race to capture a strategic point to determine a new border between the two Koreas.

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What are critics saying?


Time Out by David Fear

A huge hit in its native country, Hun Jang's epic doesn't lack for spectacle or incident: In addition to its war-what-is-it-good-for? moralizing, it also piles on bloody battle scenes, subplots involving a sniper and a supply chest, and a nihilistic last-minute twist. What you don't get is the sense that this pumped-up combat-fatigue chronicle is pandering-or, for that matter, particularly original.


Village Voice by Ernest Hardy

Tightly directed and well acted (even though many characters are cut-outs from every war movie you've ever seen), The Front Line shoehorns little known history into a familiar format, and it works.


Los Angeles Times by Glenn Whipp

Jang and screenwriter Park Sang-yeon recognize the situation's senselessness but can't resist ramping up the melodrama and celebrating the heroism of the battle-fatigued soldiers. These contradictory impulses, combined with the film's undercooked characters, make The Front Line a war movie not quite worth engaging.


New York Daily News by Joe Neumaier

While its tone and humanity offset the futility of each side's need for one crucial hill, much of this intense, honorable film is too drawn-out.


Entertainment Weekly by Lisa Schwarzbaum

This strong, assured Band of Brothers-style drama from director Jang Hun makes universal points about bonding, misery, loyalty, and the senselessness of war through a portfolio of soldiers.


Movieline by Michelle Orange

What ultimately makes the film compelling is the extent to which it uses the shared language of cinema to telegraph the caustic feelings of a people toward their own history.


The A.V. Club by Noel Murray

The action in The Front Line is bloody and tense, but the movie also reduces war to its simplest terms, defining it in terms of the reluctant soldiers who know that only accidents of birth and location determined which side of the battlefield they inhabit.


The New York Times by Stephen Holden

A movie that reserves its final sickening wallop for a grueling half-hour that leaves you as emotionally battered as the soldiers are forced to return to hell for one last senseless round.


New York Post by V.A. Musetto

As North Korea undergoes a highly publicized change of leadership, The Front Line proves timely. In fact, one of the movie's army commanders looks like the north's new baby dictator, Kim Jong-un.

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